Today's Papers

Win Summit, Lose Summit

The disintegration of Ehud Barak’s governing coalition–caused by the withdrawal of key right-wing and religious parties concerned about further territorial concessions to Yasser Arafat possibly arising in the U.S.-sponsored talks to convene at Camp David this week–leads at the Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times and also tops the Wall Street Journal front-page worldwide news box. USA Today stuffs Israel and goes instead with an exclusive: the feds’ shut-down of all government-sponsored clinical trials involving human subjects at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, prompted by a concern that a study there involving the injection of a vaccine into seriously ill cancer patients was endangering their safety. Every front runs the same picture of Pete Sampras exultant in his Wimbledon victory.

The papers report that not only did Barak lose the support of three parties, but also that of his foreign minister–until recently one of his closest confidants, says the WP. The papers note that after all the day’s political defections, Barak stated he was still resolved to reach a deal with Arafat, and he referred to his opponents as “prophets of doom.” The WP prophesies a bit of doom itself, saying the chance for the talks’ success now “appears slight.” The NYT report sows its own seed of doubt about the talks’ prospects in reporting that some Palestinian officials say they are suspicious that Barak “was engineering his own political difficulties so that he could hide behind them at the bargaining table.”

The coverage notes that Barak will face a no-confidence vote in the parliament today. The consensus is that he will survive it, by getting the votes of small splinter parties, including Arab and leftist factions, that are not part of the government. But, note the two Times, this wouldn’t give him the breadth of support he wants for his peace agenda.

Both the WP and the LAT front the convening in South Africa of an international AIDS conference, the first time such a major get-together has been held in a region where AIDS is an epidemic. The WP leads its coverage of the meeting with the walkout of hundreds of the 10,000-some attendees during the speech of South African President Thabo Mbeki, who emphasized poverty, malnutrition, and inequality as causes of AIDS but not HIV. The NYT, which runs the story inside, also tops its take with Mbeki. The LAT saves Mbeki’s speech and the walkout until the 11th paragraph. The Post quotes one South African doctor as saying, “People come into the clinic where I work and say: ‘The president says that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. So why are you telling me to wear a condom?’ “

The NYT fronts a disturbing new trend in occupational lawsuits: a rise in non-white employees complaining about the placement in their workspace of a hangman-style noose. The paper says that currently, out of a total of a few hundred lawsuits active at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, at least 20 are noose-related. And they are not, the paper emphasizes, confined to one region of the country.

The NYT and WP go inside with word that in his Sunday public message delivered from a balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square, the pope expressed “bitterness” about a gay pride festival currently being held in Rome and said it was an affront to the church and to Christian values. The pontiff did add that gays should be treated with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”

USAT goes inside with a study of Virginia’s convict DNA database showing that at least 40 percent of men ultimately arrested for rape begin their criminal careers with property crimes like burglary and petty theft. The piece explains how this finding could affect a current debate about DNA databases. Most states collect DNA samples only from violent criminals as a tool for catching repeat offenders, but law enforcement officials tend to also want to include samples from non-violent offenders, and the Virginia stat strengthens the reason for expanding the take in this way.

The WP’s “Hearsay” column checks in with its annual review of how law firms and lawyers did during the just-concluded Supreme Court term. And the winner is … Sidley & Austin, which not only won four cases, but is the home to Carter Phillips, who had three of those victories, and was, the paper reminds, just plucked by Microsoft to help the company get its antitrust case reviewed by the federal appeals court instead of being put on the fast track to the Supreme Court. The column adds that the firm of Covington & Burling has put up a 12-0 record at the Supremes since 1994.

The WP runs an AP dispatch reporting that after a youth hockey game in Massachusetts, one father of a player was charged with manslaughter in the beating death of another father. What made the man snap? He became outraged about the level of violence in what was supposed to be a non-contact game.