Today's Papers

Summer Catch (He’s 14!)

The New York Times  and the Washington Post  lead with the U.N. conference in South Africa on racism and intolerance. During the proceedings, Yasser Arafat declared that Israel has a “supremacist mentality, a mentality of racial discrimination.” Just hours before making his remarks, in an agreement brokered by Jesse Jackson, Arafat had said that he would refrain from equating Zionism with racism. The Los Angeles Times  top non-local story, which the WP fronts, has the U.S. imposing economic sanctions on a Chinese weapons manufacturer that sold missile parts and technology to Pakistan. The sale violated a U.S.-China accord that prevents Beijing from exporting missiles.

The NYT and the Post have remarkably different takes on the U.N. conference, with the Times focusing squarely on Arafat’s controversial remarks and the “mixed message” they sent, while the Post favors a broad overview of the conference itself, saving Arafat for paragraph eight. This is odd only because the conference seems to be a fairly low-level affair: 166 nations sent delegates, but few heads of state showed up. “The Bush administration refused to send Secretary of State Colin L. Powell,” reports the Times. The Post implies that the brass stayed away because they knew that Middle East issues would dominate the meetings.

The private firm in China that sold missile parts and technology to Pakistan is a “virtual front for the Beijing government and does nothing without its approval,” according to the anonymous U.S. officials quoted in the LAT.  The sanctions mean that Chinese rockets will no longer be used to launch U.S. satellites and that the U.S. won’t supply satellite know-how to the Chinese. It’s the sort of spanking that could complicate President Bush’s visit to China, now seven weeks away.

The Post and the NYT front farm subsidies and the lawmakers who benefit financially from them. Although both stories are based on a report from the Environmental Working Group, they for some reason contain different numbers. The Times, for example, reports that “at least seven” members of Congress receive subsidies, while the Post has it as “at least eleven.” The lengthy Post article repeatedly points out that while some legislators do receive substantial payments ($750, 449 over the past five years for Rep Marion Berry of Arkansas, for example–make that $649,750 if you read the Times), most of the money goes back into their farms to cover production costs. Is it a conflict of interest? Depends on whom you ask. A Congressional ethics committee ruled that it’s no different from legislators voting on a tax bill that would affect their individual tax burdens, according to the Times. The problem is that very few farmers see big money–10 percent of them got 61 percent of the subsidies last year. 

Berry, a Democrat, shows up on the NYT’s op-ed page as well–writing about what happened to the McCain-Edwards-Kennedy patients’ rights bill when it reached the House this summer. Berry argues that Charlie Norwood, a Republican, betrayed his House colleagues when he went off and met with George W. and returned with the “Norwood amendment,” a series of protections for the HMOs that took the bite out of the bill. The House and the Senate will try to reconcile their differences when they reconvene on Wednesday. 

The NYT and the WP go inside with the sentencing of Juanita Yvette Lozano, the woman convicted of stealing a tape of George W. practicing for last fall’s debates, and mailing it and some other confidential materials to a member of the Gore camp. Juanita got a rather harsh one year in prison and $3,000 in fines. Gore’s operative, upon receiving the material, immediately turned it over to the FBI, who traced the theft to Juanita by “using images captured by a surveillance video camera in an Austin post office,” according to the Times. She offered no explanation yesterday for her crime, stating only that she would miss her voting privileges while in prison.

Everybody fronts the latest in the Danny Almonte saga: that he’s 14 and not 12. The team has forfeited the season, and all the people who jumped on the bandwagon even after Sports Illustrated broke the story are now cautiously backing away. All three papers run the same quotes: “Clearly, adults have used Danny Almonte and his teammates in a most contemptible and despicable way,” from the Little League pres, and “I’m disappointed that adults would fudge the boy’s age,” from George W. Might Almonte know how old he is and be partially to blame? That possibility doesn’t get much play in the coverage, perhaps because the kid also hasn’t been in school, either here on in the D.R., and the phenom’s father gets the heat for that. “In a literal sense, Danny Almonte has been defrauded by his father,” says a NYT editorial. “That is the real crime, not the attempt to pass his son off as a 12-year-old.”  The NYT is alone in mentioning that Danny’s brother played for the Rolando Paulino league last year–and he was born in 1985. You do the math.