Today's Papers

Justifiable Hamascide?

The Los Angeles Times and USA Today lead with the House’s passage yesterday by a wide margin of a ban–including steep criminal and civil penalties–on all forms of cloning humans, which puts the issue in the Senate, where prospects for a prohibition are unclear. President Bush praised the House vote, which doesn’t ban the type of stem cell research on egg-and-sperm-based human embryos he’s still mulling. The legislation is also the top story in the Wall Street Journal’s front-page worldwide news box. The Washington Post off-leads the anti-clone vote but goes instead with Israel’s helicopter-launched missile attack on a West Bank Hamas office, which killed eight Palestinians–two senior Hamas officers and six others, including two young brothers, one aged 10, the other 7. The New York Times also off-leads clones and fronts Israel/Hamas but goes with the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to go ahead with a Clinton administration plan requiring G.E. to spend more than half a billion dollars to remove cancer-causing chemicals the company spilled or dumped in the Hudson River. The paper says the inherited dredging decision had become a test for the Bush administration, which has been pilloried recently for its energy stances.

The clone coverage makes it clear that many House members felt hard-pressed to understand the pertinent science. Nevertheless, the papers report that before they voted up a total ban, they voted down a bill that would have still banned cloning intended to produce a human baby but would have allowed it for research purposes only, for instance, to extract and use stem cells from a cloned embryo (which would then presumably be destroyed). Only the NYT lead mentions that this latter sort of research is legal in Britain. The LAT says critics of the bill argued its sanctions of up to 10 years of prison and up to a $1 million fine even for receiving medicine based on cloning done elsewhere would create a “brain drain” of scientists leaving the U.S. But USAT makes one wonder where the brains will go: It claims that 29 European nations have a total ban.

The WP lead says high that the West Bank strike, which the U.S. State Department “strongly deplored,” marked an Israeli policy shift because the two Hamas officials killed were well-known political figures, who gave interviews and ran a network of welfare programs and medical clinics, although the paper quickly adds that both were “ardent proponents of attacks on Israel.” But Israeli after-action statements imputed to them a more hands-on role in terrorism. The WP quotes one official document saying one of the men had “defined the targets and the method, created the required organizational infrastructure and sent the Hamas militant operatives” on bombing missions against Israelis.

The WP is alone in carrying a headline over the Hamas strike story that doesn’t mention the death of the two small boys. But the paper quotes the question after the attack posed by the opposition leader in Israel’s parliament: “Now we say they killed children, and they say we killed children, and how will the international community see any difference?”

USAT’s “Money” front says that today’s expected Code Red onslaught was a “false alarm,” inflicting in the early going “no discernible damage to the Internet.” The WSJ’s coverage says the true impact of the worm might not be known for days. Both stories agree that a lot of folks did a lot of pre-emptive downloading of a fix, and the papers put the worldwide cost created by Code Red-related prophylaxis and lost productivity at over $1 billion.

The NYT and WSJ explain that has posted a quarterly profit according not just to Internet fantasy accounting rules, but also according to generally accepted ones, a real rarity–it’s a status, say the papers, currently enjoyed by only one other major Internet company, eBay.

The WP’s Richard Cohen makes a simple observation that confounds glib connections between police brutality and racism: Two of the United States’ most trigger-happy police departments, Washington, D.C., (2.15 fatal shootings per 1,000 officers) and Prince George’s County, Md., (3.37 per 1,000 officers–No. 1 in this category) are two of the most black. The DCPD is 66.5 percent black, and Prince George’s police department is 41 percent black.

Al Kamen’s WP column makes you wonder: Why is the main source of federal funding for AIDS treatment paying for regional training sessions at locales like the Wyndham El San Juan Hotel, which “sports the largest and most popular casino in Puerto Rico … [and a] novel beachfront fantasy pool with waterfall,” and like “the beautiful Hilton Turtle Bay Golf and Tennis Resort on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, with its championship golf course, tennis and, of course, horseback riding on a lovely beach”?