Today's Papers

Fowl Less Foul

The Los Angeles Times leads with “serious planning” within the Bush administration for a “campaign”—diplomatic, militaristic, or a little of both—against Saddam Hussein. The Washington Postleads with George W.’s reluctance to sound off on a campaign finance reform bill making its way through the House. He doesn’t want to stir up any more Enron dust. And the New York Times leads with chickens—they’re not consuming antibiotics so much lately. Which is good.

“Voices of caution fall silent” reads the subhead on the LAT’s Iraq lead. Apparently there is agreement within the administration that some kind of action is due, be it with words or weapons, against Saddam, who has too much (in the LAT’s words) “wiggle room,” which might enable him to “pull off devastating surprises” in the future. Dick Cheney goes on a nine-country tour of the Middle East next month in an effort to engender support for the campaign. The LAT doesn’t name those “voices of caution,” but makes it plain that usual suspect Colin Powell is not among them. “After the president, Powell now looks like the hardest-line person in the administration,” says a source at State.

The Shays-Meehan bill, up for a vote in the House this week, would ban unlimited “soft money” from unions, individuals, and big companies (like Enron), according to the WP lead. Were it not for Enron’s ties to his administration, George W. would probably be pressuring moderate Republicans to vote against the bill—but, in the absence of that, it has a decent chance. “I’m voting for Shays,” Frank Wolf, R-Va., says. “I don’t think there will be any punishment of anybody.” Shays-Meehan is a version of McCain-Feingold, which already passed the Senate.

An NYT editorial calls Shay-Meehan the “most important vote on cleaning up the nation’s scandalous and corrupt political fund-raising system in more than 25 years.” And while the White House may be holding back, Republican leaders in the House are “resorting to every legislative and political tactic to kill reform,” an aspect of the story omitted by the Post. The Times goes so far as to publish the phone number at the Capitol (“We rarely take this step…”), so that its readers can call their reps. “Let the voices of Americans speak louder than the sound of cash registers once and for all.” 

NYT food maven Marian Burros steps up to write the paper’s chicken lead. Industry big birds Tyson, Purdue, and Foster are feeding their fowl less antibiotics, deciding, after 20 years of defending the practice, that it’s unnecessary.  “There is no evidence that a reduction in the use of antibiotics for healthy chickens will increase the risk of getting sick from eating them,” Burros writes. “On the contrary, the continual use of antibiotics makes bacteria more resistant.” Meanwhile, corporate costumers like McDonald’s and Wendy’s are no longer buying chickens treated with Cipro-like drugs.

Obviously the antibiotic paper of choice today, the NYT reports (in the City section) that the drugs are available (for people) without a prescription in virtually every Washington Heights bodega. Ampitrex, manufactured in the Dominican Republic, goes for $1 a dose and is used like penicillin. The DEA and FDA have shown little interest thus far, though the Times piece might well change that..                               

The LAT stuffs the ongoing (if now subtler) discrimination endured by Arab-Americans since Sept 11. “We’re hearing a lot about episodes in the workplace, [Arab Americans] who say they can’t get jobs, can’t get promotions,” says the director of a California human rights organization. “What’s real clear is that before [Sept. 11] incidents against Islamics were so few and far between as to be off the radar screen altogether. Now they’re surpassing those of most other groups except gays and lesbians.” The EEOC has received 260 claims of workplace discrimination from Muslims since Sept 11, an increase of 168 percent over the same period last year.

With the Olympics safely underway, gun battles in Utah are just heating up, a LAT fronter reports. Gun advocates argued unsuccessfully for lock boxes at Olympic venues, leaving no place for them to store their concealed weapons. “Leaving your weapon at home makes you defenseless during the many hours that you will spend traveling to and from each Olympic event,” opines Gun Owners of Utah. A similar controversy is brewing at the University of Utah, whose president has banned guns from campus. “It’s a two-edged sword,” says a U of U student. “From his [the university president] perspective, he thinks if professors or students knew there were students who were concealing firearms, they might not be at liberty to speak freely. But the Catch-22 is, those students who carry may feel like they can’t speak freely if you take away the power to defend themselves.”

Watch for dissertation defenses to get more interesting.