Today's Papers

Saddam Goes Solo

The intensifying showdown with Iraq leads at the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and USA Today. As the U.S. increased its bomber presence in the Persian Gulf, the total isolation of Saddam Hussein became apparent. Yesterday Egypt, Syria, and six other Gulf countries signed a declaration that blamed the crisis on Iraq’s intransigence. Even France and Russia–which traditionally have supported Iraq’s argument that sanctions should be lifted–have voiced no opposition to a possible U.S. attack.

U.S. rhetoric was sharp: Defense Secretary William Cohen warned that military strikes, if they occur, “will be significant.” Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said, “We have thought well beyond Hour One and Day One and Week One.” In Baghdad, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz reiterated Iraq’s stance that sanctions should be lifted before weapons inspectors are reinstated. Aziz did indicate, however, that Iraq would welcome U.N. intervention–but Kofi Annan, who has been burned too many times by Iraq’s broken promises, shows no inclination to head to Baghdad.

The LAT says that “an attack on Iraq, and possibly a massive one,” could come at “virtually any moment.” The WP is more cautious, citing U.S. officials who say that “military action is not likely for 10 days, although it could come sooner.” Possible reasons for delay include President Clinton’s upcoming swing through Asia and a last chance for diplomacy.

The Wall Street Journal fronts a story on how E.W. Scripps Co., owner of Home and Garden Television, broke into the “clubby” and expensive cable programming business–in which would-be programmers must even pay cable systems for channel space. Scripps essentially got lucky–after stumbling on the concept of using “retransmission rights” as a bargaining chip–and its boomer-friendly content took off, once aired. Nonetheless, Scripps had no free rise: It initially had to promise 25% of its ad revenue to cable operators.

A nerve-racking USATCover Story” says that airports nationwide, in an effort to accommodate more traffic and increase runway efficiency, are practicing “the simultaneous use of intersecting runways.” One jet could be taking off and another landing on intersecting runways; it is presumed that the landing jet will stop well before the intersection. Though a number of near-misses have been reported, the FAA wants to extend the practice to flights at night and in the rain.

The NYT and LAT front stories on the $433 million lawsuit against the gun industry filed yesterday by the city of Chicago. The suit charges that stores in Chicago’s suburbs knowingly overstocked guns, confident that they would be distributed to illegal outlets, and that the gun industry constitutes a “public nuisance”–that is, by enabling illegal gun sales, it increased the burden on Chicago’s civic services. The lawsuit, reminiscent of the fight against Big Tobacco, may serve as a model for upcoming suits in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

In a long NYT op-ed, Tony Blair writes deferentially of how “America is once again responding to the call of duty” in the Iraq crisis. Using the Iraq context as a springboard, Blair opines the U.S. shoulders too much responsibility for European and international affairs. Europe should be more organized, he says. “America’s trans-Atlantic commitment has made Europe a safer place. But Europe needs to do more to repay that debt.”

Biotechnology grows ever more bizarre: A human skin cell nestled in a gutted cow egg turned into an embryo and divided–or so claims a small biotechnology company in Worcester, Massachusetts, according to a WP story. This extraordinary revelation, made public yesterday, has spawned questions not only about the legitimacy of the results, but also about possible misuse of federal funds. If the experiment is true, its implications are so surreal that they bear repeating: The first human embryo may have been cloned–with the aid of a cow egg.