Today's Papers

Colin Keeps It Regular

The Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Washington Post all lead with friction over the Kyoto treaty at the G-8 summit. The headlines at both the WP (“President Is Pressured”) and LAT (“Bush Feels Heat”) head straight for the drama, leaving the NYT to say what happened: “Allies Tell Bush They’ll Act Alone on Climate Accord.” All the papers continue to front coverage of the riots, which swelled yesterday, just one day after a demonstrator was killed by police.

The summit coverage belatedly concedes that there isn’t much new to say about Kyoto. The NYT lead waits until the seventh paragraph to inform the reader that without the U.S., Kyoto would be “largely ineffective.” And the WP lead, which begins by talking of the “intense pressure” on President Bush, later admits that even his European critics understand that the decision is largely out of his hands: The Senate has already voted 95-0 against ratification. All the papers note that the best hope for a compromise is in Bush’s own greenhouse gas guidelines, which the WP expects to be released by October.

And what form did the “intense pressure” take? The WP reports that the leaders of Britain, France, and Germany “took turns” lobbying Bush on Kyoto. Fair enough, except that according to the NYT, the issue “did not come up” in meetings with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac. Regardless, most of the haggling over Kyoto occurred not in Genoa, host to the G-8 summit and President Bush, but in Bonn, Germany, where negotiators attempted to hammer out a consensus among Kyoto’s backers.

The LAT headline on the G-8 riots (“Organized Anarchy in Genoa”) captures the contradictions embedded in the protests. Though many protest groups are thoughtful and peaceful, media attention has focused on the violence and extreme positions. An Italian philosophy student explains to the WP that he is stumping for a movement that “can’t be defined, it can’t be labeled. That’s the really great thing about it.” And he’s a moderate, someone who thinks the members of the “Black Bloc” (anarchists) are more frightening than the police.

On that point, at least, he and President Bush agree. Bush tells the NYT, “These protesters who try to shut down our talks on trade and aid don’t represent the poor.” Still, the tens of thousands of demonstrators outside and the one protester already killed weighed heavily on the minds of the G-8 leaders. “Obviously, we have all been traumatized by events,” said President Chirac.

The NYT reports inside that the Justice Department has removed David Boies from the Microsoft antitrust case. Philip Beck, the man who replaces him, was a member of the legal team that prevailed against Boies’ client, Al Gore, in the Florida recount battle. The story doesn’t speculate on how this affects a government case already dented by last month’s appellate court ruling.

The WP gives front-page coverage to the medical critics of Dr. Mutahar Fauzia, whose aggressive fertility treatments led to last week’s septuplet birth in Washington, D.C. “This race to see who has the most babies breeds the crazy idea that technology lets human beings have litters,” one doctor explains. “The media absolutely fail to convey the risks, the dangers, the grim history about what’s happened in these situations.”

According to Paul Krugman’s op-ed column in the NYT, those warning of a Social Security crisis in 2016 are talking “sheer, mean-spirited nonsense.” He’s responding to President Bush’s commission on Social Security reform, which issued the warning that by 2016, outgoing benefits will surpass incoming payroll taxes. But Krugman reminds that by then, the Social Security system will have built up a multi-trillion-dollar cushion capable of absorbing the deficits for decades.

The LAT fronts word that a change in the lexicon of illegal immigration might presage a change in policy. Recently, the paper notes, when officials from the U.S. and Mexico discussed a change in status for the roughly 3 million Mexicans illegally in the U.S., they spoke only in terms of “regularization,” a way of disguising an amnesty policy. And Mexico’s corporate-trained president, Vicente Fox, has been touring the Midwest speaking with union leaders. He seeks to build support for a move to, as Colin Powell phrased it, “regularize the flow of people back and forth.” Although policy details have yet to be fashioned, the story asserts that a blanket amnesty has already been ruled out.

I sense the presence of … something phony.The NYT’s “Sunday Style” section profiles a new trend taking hold of pet owners: psychics who put their telepathic talents to work as “animal communicators.” Now, the story predicts, industry leader Amelia Kinkade is poised to bring pet communicators to the big time. With a new book (Straight From the Horse’s Mouth) and a lucrative private practice, she has already, ahem, channeled into a growing market. Her editor boasts of the time Kinkade sensed the color of her cat’s favorite pillow. Can a movie deal be far behind?