Today's Papers

A Dally With Sally

The New York Times leads with a sweeping two-days-to-elections article, while the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times both go with Iraq’s announcement Saturday that it refuses to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors (the NYT also fronts this story).

The LAT calls Iraq’s statement “the boldest move yet to evade international disarmament efforts.” In protesting Friday’s U.N. Security Council decision to keep sanctions on Iraq in place, Baghdad plans to end cooperation with the 100 plus international arms inspectors and shut down U.N. weapons monitoring operations immediately–though some surveillance equipment may remain in place. This latest Iraqi intransigence comes on top of Iraq’s August move to prevent U.N. spot checks. Iraq also wants to oust Richard Butler, the head of the U.N. weapons monitoring mission to Iraq. The U.N. Security Council immediately convened Saturday to denounce Iraq’s move but proposed no specific solutions to this latest crisis. (A separate NYT “Week in Review” piece describes the debilitating fissures within U.S. and international strategies for handling Iraq.)

The NYT lead concludes that despite the media blitz, “neither party appears to have strong momentum” going into Tuesday’s elections. The WP and LAT front their own election stories–an above-the-fold WP piece says that a shift in Congressional power is unlikely, though the Republicans may well gain several Senate seats. The LAT focuses on the new “cautiousness” of the parties as they struggle to redefine themselves. This caution is reflected in the candidates’ “modest agendas”: The Democrats tend to adhere to Social Security, HMO reform, and education, while the Republicans seek tax cuts, increased defense spending, and more state control of education initiatives.

Arguing that “justice can take the form of accountability,” Harvard Law professor Martha Minow (in “Outlook”) defends South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which has been bombarded with criticism since the release of its final report last week. Specifically, the author supports the “dignity” which the TRC accords to victims, and its refutation of the “amnesia and denial that so often follow periods of national atrocity.” With the experience and knowledge of the TRC, South Africa now must set about actively transforming its future. A separate WP op-ed by woman who participated in the TRC says that despite some flaws in the process–victims’ lives did not materially improve, and perpetrators may still lie about their full involvement–the TRC symbolizes an attempt to move forward, rather than sink into the “spiral of violence and revenge” that often engulfs the aftermath of 20th-century atrocities.

All papers front stories on new evidence that Thomas Jefferson had an affair and at least one child with one of his slaves. Carefully researched DNA evidence points “within the limits of scientific certainty” (LAT) to the fact that Jefferson has descendants through his slave Sally Hemings. Hemings, who was 29 years younger than Jefferson, was herself the mulatto half-sister of Jefferson’s wife. Many historians have long discredited the idea of a Jefferson-slave liaison and are stunned by this revelation (which will appear in full in this week’s Nature). Echoes of the current scandal abound; they are developed in an intriguing inside WP article. Apparently Scottish journalist Thomson Callender–who exposed Alexander Hamilton’s adultery–wrote a story about Jefferson’s affair in the Richmond Recorder (even after Jefferson had paid him $50!). Partisan reaction was severe: Republicans called Callender a “clot-hearted Scot,” and Jefferson himself wrote that “the federalists have opened all their sluices of calumny.”