Today's Papers

Chinese Fireworks

The New York Times leads and the Washington Post fronts the Bush administration’s intention to tell China that it is not opposed the country’s plan to build up its arsenal of nuclear missiles. The Los Angles Times takes a different angle on the story, stuffs it inside, and leads with an article on the upcoming congressional spending battles. The WP (on-line) leads local on the achievement gap between rich and poor students in area schools.

In the China coverage, the Post gives more space to the administration’s explanation for the shift in policy than the NYT. According to both papers, the United States will ease its opposition to China’s nuclear-missile program in order to prove that the missile-defense shield is not built with China in mind. “We want to have serious talks with them about why this is not a threat to them” the Post quotes National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice as saying. The LAT takes a different approach altogether and focuses on the administration’s denial that the United States is changing its policy on the matter. While both the Post and the NYT go high with similar quotes from Rice, the Post does so at length.  Neither of them use the LAT’s “We will tell them that a further nuclear buildup isn’t good for peace and stability in the region.”

As for criticism of the plan, the Post relies on a conservative while the NYT taps Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden. The Post’s critic, Reagan’s arms control director, Kenneth Adelman, offers that in “my experience over many years of negotiating with the Chinese … they take what you give and give almost nothing in return,” For the Times, this proposed strategy has been met with “scathing criticism,” from Congress. “This is absolutely absurd,” said Biden, chairman of the senate foreign affairs committee. “It shows that these guys will go to any length to build a national missile defense, even one they can’t define.”

The Post article also mentions that the United States has imposed trade sanctions on a Chinese arms manufacturer for exporting missile technology to Pakistan. In July, Secretary of State Colin Powell raised the issue with his Chinese counterparts, asking the government to take action against the exporters. After additional and unsuccessful attempts to persuade the Chinese government to sanction the firm, the United States decided to impose the largely symbolic sanctions. While the NYT treats this as a separate story, both papers note that these sanctions come on the eve of President Bush’s scheduled visit to China in October. The NYT also discusses the sanctions in light of the lobbying efforts by aerospace companies to convince the Bush administration to allow China to launch American-made satellites.

The LAT lead deals with the upcoming budget brawls as Congress returns to Washington with less wiggle room than previously expected. While the Democrats are likely to tag Bush for the shrinking surplus, some dissenting Democrats don’t believe that criticizing the tax cut is a political winner. Either way, increased funding for education, stem-cell research, and the promised prescription drug benefit for seniors is doubtful. One Republican spokesman promises “it’s going to be pretty ugly.”

In a similar, back-to-Congress story, a Post fronter prefaces the challenges President Bush will encounter during the upcoming appropriations process. This comes as a distraction for Bush who “once hoped to spend the fall redefining his presidency around issues of values and compassion,” suggests the Post. The article makes other unsourced assertions, such as, “Like all recent presidents, Bush has quickly learned that his administration is defined more by the economy than any other issue.”

The first of a two part series in the WP analyses the achievement gap between rich and poor school systems in Montgomery County, Md. According to education officials, “separate and unequal” school systems are evolving. The Post’s analysis of over 50,000 student test scores and economic status confirms these assertions. The data suggests that economic status is far more accurate than race in projecting whom will do well on tests.

Democracy is taking root in a rural Iranian village, reports a WP fronter. In contrast to the capital, 75 miles and three hours west, there are no debates between reformers and conservatives, mullahs and secularists in the town of Lazoor. Instead, it seems that ideology has yielded to practicality and the focus in on improving the quality of life. As a result of this two-year experiment there is more civic involvement, political equality between the sexes, as well as neighborhood improvement. For example, 1,000 of the 3,000 townspeople have built 42 dams to control floods and planted 6,700 trees.

In a below-the-fold story, the NYT reports that Al Gore is receiving the cold shoulder from some big-time Democratic donors. In interviews with more than two dozen contributors and strategists, the Times uncovers “deep reservoirs of anger and resentment about the way Mr. Gore conducted his campaign.” Mixed with this resentment is a strong belief that Gore was robbed of Florida and the presidency.

In a WP “Outlook” article, a former Postmaster General, William Henderson, makes the case for privatizing the U.S. Postal Service. With the announcement that the postal service has contracted with Fed-ex to carry overnight packages, it’s becoming clear that the $65 million “corporation” is already being privatized. And privatization won’t necessarily lead to increased rates, contends Henderson. In addition to informing readers that the postal system makes money in the fall and winter but loses money each summer, the article also gives an overview of privatization efforts in other countries.

Developments at the U.N. World Conference on racism in Durban, South Africa are buried on A-16 in the Post and not to be found (on-line) in the other papers. Several African leaders demanded financial reparations for the centuries of slavery and colonialism. But it was Cuba’s Fidel Castro who made one of the most impassioned speeches in favor of reparations. The Post describes the other pleas as “eloquent” though admits there’s no consensus on the matter as African leaders “sent mixed messages on how far its Western beneficiaries should go to make amends.”

The End of an Affair: A NYT “Week in Review” article examines America’s love affair with the automobile in light of California Gov. Gray Davis’ announcement that the state will stop building new highways. By veering away from the individuality of the road and moving towards mass transit the governor’s announcement may spell the end of the “busted romance of the century.” However, the article is doubtful whether Americans will actually ditch their cars and hop on the bus. Still, the cultural implications of Davis anti-roads sentiment are significant: “The ‘white line on the holy road’ of Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ has lost some of its luster.”