Today's Papers

Administration Dim Bulbs?

The USA Today lead is its Colin Powell interview, in which the secretary of state gives the Bush administration’s first detailed reaction to awarding China the 2008 Summer Olympics, saying the move puts Beijing under “seven years of supervision” by the international community, which could prod it toward more openness and democracy. The New York Times leads with, and everybody else stuffs, the signing yesterday in Moscow by Presidents Jiang Zemin of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia of a friendship treaty between their two nations. The Washington Post leads with the Bush administration’s request yesterday in federal court for an 18-month delay before ruling on a Clinton administration regulation targeting agricultural and rural sources of pollution that would mandate cleaning up thousands of lakes, rivers, and streams. The government wants to use the extra time to review and rewrite the rule. The Los Angeles Times fronts the water pollution development (which the NYT stuffs) but goes instead with its report that, in reaction to conservatives’ immediate criticisms, the White House is retreating from the idea (first reported last weekend by the NYT) of an automatic amnesty for more than 3 million “undocumented” (the paper’s word) Mexicans living in the U.S. The Bush administration, says the paper, is trying to balance boosting its support among Latino voters with maintaining its conservative base. Plus, opening up a legal “guest worker” program for Mexicans, which Mexico’s president is also interested in, requires taking into account the status of all Mexicans already in the U.S. The Wall Street Journal tops its front-page worldwide news box with the end of the summit meeting between the prime minister of India and the president of Pakistan without any sort of breakthrough on the territory of Kashmir, which both countries claim. Despite this (and despite, as the paper reports, that some 86 people died in fighting in Kashmir during the summit), the paper still sees some progress, particularly because the two leaders have agreed to meet again later this year. The NYT fronts the summit and has a more pessimistic take, finding the lack of an end-of-meeting joint statement to be “ominous,” especially when compared to the “festive and hopeful” end of the last summit between the two countries.

The NYT lead reports that the Russia-China agreement, the first since the days of Stalin and Mao, has the two countries formally opposing U.S. missile-shield plans via their joint endorsement of the ABM Treaty in its current form, and also coming out against the sort of NATO intervention that occurred in Yugoslavia in 1999. It also strengthens military cooperation between the two countries and solidifies Russia’s support of China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan. The Times says that the Bush administration “played down” the development and quotes a deputy secretary of state saying it didn’t add much real substance.

The LAT lead leaves the reader wondering what the paper’s policy is about calling people “illegal” immigrants. High up, the story shoe-horns the phrase “undocumented workers” into a quote from White House spokesman Ari Fleischer where Fleischer apparently used “illegal” instead. But down lower, in its own narrative, the story three times uses “illegal” to refer to the people at issue. What gives?

The WP is alone in fronting the results, released yesterday, of a study of U.S. voting technology conducted jointly by Caltech and MIT. The profs found that somewhere between 4 and 6 million people either failed to vote or had their votes invalidated in last fall’s U.S. presidential election because of faulty equipment, ballot marking errors, or other administrative foul-ups. The report concludes that punch-card ballots, lever machines, and on-screen electronic machines all should be abolished in favor of optical scan ballots. In addition, it concludes that absentee voting should be abolished or restricted and says that widespread Internet voting will have to wait for at least another decade of research.

The NYT goes inside with a Department of Energy report finding that federal agencies have cut energy use, especially of electricity, this year via a variety of “creative conservation programs” such as resetting and then locking office thermostats. This finding seems at odds with the NYT fronter headlined “CHENEY CALLS ON NAVY TO PAY RISING BILL TO LIGHT HIS HOME.” This headline seems a bit misleading because 1) the house in question, the vice presidential residence, isn’t one Vice President Cheney owns, and 2) Cheney isn’t now paying the light bill there–he just wants the government money for it to come from the Navy’s purse instead of the White House’s, an idea first suggested in the Clinton administration, according to a Cheney spokeswoman the story quotes down low. But some questions about Cheney’s energy use remain–because the story says the electricity use in his mansion is down by about a third this year over last when the occupant was Al Gore, but adds that Washington, D.C., electricity prices have declined since then, too.

The WP publishes a particularly sharp-eyed letter in response to its recently published survey of whites’ overestimates of the social well-being of blacks. The original story concluded that this misperception helps to explain why many whites oppose even the least intrusive forms of affirmative action. But the letter writer notes that in the full data set posted on the paper’s Web site, it’s stated that a large majority of each race opposes affirmative action in hiring, promotion, and college admissions.

The WP reports on an exchange that took place during a panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington last week. It seems that two colleagues there are on opposite sides of a bill currently before Congress that would allow the Baby Bells to offer long-distance services. After one, James Glassman, finished talking, the other, Tom Hazlett, handed out yellow raincoats to panelists and offered a tarp to people in the audience’s front row, telling them things were about to “get messy.” Hazlett then said that apparently Glassman had “hit his head” or possibly “had been drinking” and needed to “check into the Betty Ford Clinic.” When Hazlett finished, Glassman complained that Hazlett “did not engage seriously the important public policy issues here.” Today’s Papers can’t help but notice that the WP didn’t either.