Everyone leads with the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed at least 18 people and injured over a hundred others. The Los Angeles Times says the attack “crossed a threshold of cruelty,” aimed as it was at Israeli youths who were awaiting admission to a popular beachside nightclub. “This just proves that the whole country is the front line,” says Tel Aviv’s mayor in the New York Times quote of the day. It was the deadliest terrorist attack since the eruption of Israeli-Palestinian violence last fall, according to the Times.
The militant Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombing, although Israeli officials were quick to blame Yasser Arafat. “There is no doubt that Arafat controls these things,” an Israeli Cabinet minister says in the NYT. The Washington Post deftly explains the difficulties now facing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who will come under extreme pressure from hard-liners and Jewish settlers to break the self-imposed Israeli cease-fire. The WP observes that suicide bombings are virtually impossible to stop, “least of all with air strikes,” but notes that many Israeli officials seem “convinced that there is no way to deal with the Palestinians other than to hurt them.”
Inside the NYT, op-ed columnist Anthony Lewis argues that Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, territories won by Israeli forces in the 1967 Middle East War, have been a huge drain on the Israeli economy and have “corrupted the values of not only Israel, but some of the Jewish community outside.” He quotes David Ben-Gurion, who “came out of retirement in 1967 to say that, Jerusalem apart, ‘To get peace, we must return to the pre-1967 borders. Peace is more important than real estate.’ He said the occupied territories should be given back quickly, before resentment could build.”
The papers go off-lead with the crown prince of Nepal’s killing of the king and queen and several other relatives over dinner at the palace in Katmandu. The prince also shot himself, in what the NYT calls “a wholesale killing of royalty not seen since the deaths of the last czar of Russia and his family in 1918.” The shooting spree may have been triggered by the queen’s opposition to the prince’s choice of a bride, although the Times warns that “over coming days any number of possible explanations for the tragedy may emerge.” In a most bizarre turn, CNN reports that the crown prince, on life support after the incident, has been named king.
The NYT fronts the congressional race in Indiana, which features, after some creative redistricting, two unlikely opponents, both incumbents. Indiana loses a congressional seat in 2002 and “thanks to the cartographical handiwork of Democrats,” who control the State House, two arch conservatives, Buyer and Kerns, now find themselves in the same district. “I call this my district,” says Buyer. “He doesn’t have one.” “I consider myself the incumbent,” says Kerns, who represents about two-thirds of the new district’s residents. Republicans are “bracing for a blood bath.”
The LAT goes inside with a 17 percent rise in the number of gays being discharged from the military under the infamous “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The increase was especially sharp in the Army, which rid itself of 573 soldiers in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, as compared to 271 the year before. 161 of those dismissals were from Fort Campbell, where two years ago a gay soldier was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat in his sleep. Gay activists contend that the big numbers indicate that “don’t ask, don’t tell” don’t work, while the uniforms claim that many disgruntled soldiers say they’re gay just to get out of the military. Change in the policy is unlikely under the current administration, as President Bush has declared himself a “don’t ask, don’t tell man.”
Tom Daschle’s sleepover at John McCain’s house this weekend makes the front of the NYT and the WP, fueled by speculation that McCain may become the latest Republican to jump ship. No move is imminent, the papers caution, but anonymous advisers say McCain may launch a third-party challenge to President Bush in 2004. Bush was reportedly untroubled by the news: “The president thinks everybody in the Congress should have their colleagues over,” a White House spokesman says in the Times. McCain was one of only two Republican senators who voted against Bush’s tax cut and he is “sponsoring an array of centrist bills with the Democrats,” according to the Times.
The WP fronts a faintly amusing story about people who chose to do business with communications start-ups back when “Wall Street was still minting telecommunications ventures with abandon.” At first, it seemed like a good deal, as prices dropped and choices expanded. But many of these companies have gone belly up, leaving millions of consumers and small businesses seriously out of touch. One man lost his high-speed ISP, his long-distance company, his calling card and, finally, his 800 number. “I’ve got to run my business,” he says. “I mean, this is 2001, man. We shouldn’t be having problems like this.” The Post calls it the “underside of deregulation,” noting that the problem may only get worse as more companies go under.