Today's Papers

Stemming the Cell War

 The New York Times leads with economic analysis suggesting that an unexpectedly strong dollar is hampering prospects for a quick economic rebound. Coupled with decelerating growth in Europe and Asia, the strong dollar, which makes American goods relatively more expensive abroad, has resulted in disappointing foreign profits for U.S. companies. The Los Angeles Times leads with evidence of a North African terrorist network loosely allied with Osama Bin Laden. This latest U.S. security threat has largely come to light in the wake of Algerian Ahmed Ressam’s arrest at the U.S.-Canada border for plotting to blow up LAX airport. The Washington Post leads with a report that President Bush’s agenda is facing increased resistance on the Hill. In the Senate, he’s up against a newly empowered Democratic majority pushing its own agenda. And in the House, emboldened GOP moderates, who stuck with Bush through the budget and tax-cut debates, have begun to break rank on environmental and trade issues. These GOP moderates say that there will have to be more give-and-take between the White House and congressional Republicans in the coming weeks and months.

The NYT lead reports that the value of the dollar has increased over 10 percent relative to the yen and the euro this year. That comes as a surprise to most analysts because the Fed has cut interest rates six times during the same period, an action that typically weakens the dollar. The rising value of American greenbacks is apparently the result of a continued belief on the part of investors that holdings in the U.S. are still the safest bet on their money. But this hasn’t been good news for American manufacturers, for whom the strong dollar has meant dampened overseas demand. They are calling on the Bush administration to back an international effort to decrease the dollar’s value in an orderly way–a plea that has not been received by sympathetic ears. The WP stuffs its article on an economic rebound, reporting that Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill has told other G-7 officials that the U.S. upswing is just around the corner.

The LAT lead calls it a matter of “good luck and terrorist mistakes” that the U.S. has not yet been the victim of an attack by North African terrorists. The article reveals that the Algerian threat “seemed to catch American intelligence officials by surprise.” Part of the problem is that the nature of Islamic terrorism has changed. The North African network consists of “informal terrorist cells” that are, for the most part, independent of each other, though all share training experiences in Bin Laden’s infamous terrorist camps.

The WP off-leads, and the NYT and LAT stuff, Rep. Gary Condit’s third interview with D.C. police. Though Condit has finally admitted to having an affair with missing intern Chandra Levy, police say he is still not a suspect. This comes after a Friday WP interview in which Levy’s aunt provided the first public account of her niece’s relationship with the Congressman.

The WP fronts a piece describing how the proliferation of small arms has drastically altered life in Kenya’s tribal societies. Where village elders once held power, youths toting AK-47s now make the important decisions about waging war with neighboring tribes. This transfer of power has had a disastrous effect on conflict management in the region. In one particularly gruesome case, several hundred young men from the Pokot tribe of northwestern Kenya massacred 47 people–mostly women and children–from the neighboring Marakwet tribe. Later this week, members of the U.N. General Assembly will meet to begin negotiating an international treaty regulating trade in small arms.

An LAT front-pager says that President Bush may pursue a compromise in the debate over stem cell research. Several leading Catholic intellectuals have told the White House they’re amenable to a plan that would allow federal funding for research on stem cells that have already been isolated from embryos but would disallow any new destruction of embryos. However, this compromise has opponents on both sides. Catholic Church officials have rejected the proposal on the grounds that it makes the government complicit in the ending of life, while scientists worry that the full potential of stem cell research can’t be realized unless more cells are harvested.

According to a NYT front below the fold, California will be expanding its dam system in order to meet the state’s rising demand for water. In return for promises of other environmentally friendly measures, some environmental groups that have adamantly opposed dams for years have agreed to support the current efforts.

The NYT fronts a piece on the Indian army’s court marshalling of Maj. Manish Bhatnagar, a 29-year-old paratrooper charged with refusing an order to attack Pakistani troops during the nation’s small-scale war with its northwestern neighbor two summers ago. The fighting over the Kashmir region, which lasted eight weeks and left 850 Indian soldiers dead, is widely regarded as one of India’s worst military debacles. Supporters of Bhatnagar believe he is being scapegoated by government officials and army brass for their own faults in the Kashmir campaign.

A NYT fronter reports that two recently discovered newspaper clippings from 1825 make reference to the game of baseball, bolstering a growing consensus that the game was not invented by Abner Doubleday, Alexander Cartwright, or anyone else, but rather evolved gradually. A piece inside the WP reports that America’s national pastime is slowly gaining popularity in Iran. Even though the nation’s best pitcher can only throw a 65 mph fastball and hasn’t yet nailed down the curveball, Iran hopes to some day field an Olympic team.

And, finally, the WP’s “Arts” section wonders why rock stars are so reluctant to show their pearly whites in publicity shots. What’s with all that glowering? Six hypotheses are presented: 1) It’s rock ’n’ roll’s blues influence; 2) it’s because British rockers have poor dental hygiene; 3) Bob Dylan’s gravitas wiped the grin of the faces of pop stars; 4) James Dean and Marlon Brando made surliness chic; 5) it’s all part of the grunge notion that rock stars are beset by the same problems as their fans; 6) in some way it must be the baby boomers’ fault (they’re behind every major trend).