Today's Papers


USA Today, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times lead with the Bush administration’s decision (likely to be officially announced today) to offer for sale to Taiwan a number of weapons, including Kidd-class destroyers, diesel submarines and anti-submarine airplanes, but not the more modern Aegis anti-air warfare destroyer Taiwan had asked for and that China had strongly opposed. The Wall Street Journal puts the development atop its front-page worldwide news box. The New York Times fronts the Taiwan decision, but leads instead with Junichiro Koizumi’s election to the presidency of the party that has dominated Japan’s politics for more than 40 years, meaning that later this week he will almost surely become the country’s new prime minister. The paper says Koizumi has a rebel image (in the party vote, he defeated the front-runner) and is widely seen as ready to end Japan’s economic crisis, although he has been vague about how. The WP also fronts his election. The LAT, which surely has more Japanese-American readers than either of these papers, stuffs it.

Even though the Aegis ships were not included in the Taiwan arms package, the WP says the offering is “robust” and “almost certain to anger” China. But the LAT says it stakes out a “middle ground” between angering China and helping Taiwan and that although it is likely to elicit China’s strong public opposition, it will also produce a “private sense of relief” there. The NYT sees a “diplomatically cautious path.” The coverage says that the deal was a response to China’s military buildup and not to the recent brouhaha over the Navy surveillance plane. Regarding that buildup, the WP says that China’s been increasing its stock of Taiwan-targeting missiles at the rate of 50 a year, and the LAT runs a graphic high on its front showing China’s overwhelming advantage over Taiwan not just in missiles, but also in planes, ships, and subs.

The USAT front has an unnamed U.S. official saying that a videotape of that missionary plane over Peru shows that it was not taking the evasive action typical of drug runners before it was shot down. The WP fronter buries this information. The Post story says that in 1997 the Peruvian air force shot down a plane–later revealed to have been a drug runner–without first firing warning shots and that the CIA contract plane involved in last Friday’s disaster did not check on the suspect plane’s side number even though it is equipped with zoom-lensed cameras for doing so. The LAT fronter also has the 1997 shoot-down and in fact says that both Peruvians and Americans involved in drug interdiction in Peru knew that missionaries flew the same routes as drug smugglers. The NYT says in its insider that the three American survivors told friends that a Peruvian fighter strafed them after they crash-landed.

The NYT fronts, USAT and the LAT reefer, and the WP stuffs yesterday’s Navy disciplinary hearing at which the skipper of the sub that surfaced into a Japanese fishing vessel, killing nine of its crew, Scott Waddle, was given a reprimand that will end his Navy career. Everybody notes that this means Waddle will avoid a court martial and possible imprisonment and can retire with a full pension, but only the LAT bothers to say concretely what the 41-year-old will get: “$34,741 a year, with medical benefits, annual cost of living increases, survivor benefits, and commissary and base exchange privileges.”

The LAT and the WP front Mississippi’s decision to end a more than a quarter-century-old class action lawsuit over the segregation of its state higher education system by entering into a settlement that will pump $500 million into the state’s historically black universities.

The NYT goes inside with the peaceful resolution of that armed takeover of an Istanbul luxury hotel when pro-Chechen gunmen released their hostages and surrendered. It turns out that their leader had been previously imprisoned by Turkey after he led an armed takeover of a Russian ferry in 1996, also to protest Russia’s military action in Chechnya, but had apparently been released as part of a general amnesty last year.

The NYT business section reports that Hasbro reported a $25 million loss yesterday, mostly because of its waning Pokemon revenue. The story doesn’t mention a possible source of the diminution fronted by the LAT: Pokemon has become a target for religious leaders throughout the Arab world “who charge that the game promotes theories of evolution, encourages gambling and, at its core, is part of a Jewish conspiracy aimed at turning children away from Islam.” The top religious authority in Saudi Arabia, the paper reports, has issued a ban against the toy. The story says that Japanese embassies throughout the Middle East have been asked if it’s true that “Pokemon” is Japanese for “I am a Jew.” (Actually, it means “pocket monster.”)

The NYT has been known to gratuitously explain that Muhammad Ali is the well-known former boxer or that the Razor is the scooter sold in record numbers all over the world. But the paper goes completely the other way in an obit today when it reports without elaboration that a 1975 fire in the deceased’s castle destroyed much of the structure, “though a dirk and sporran used by Rob Roy, the Scottish brigand, were saved.”