Today's Papers

Never Never Land?

The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times all lead with news that the central committee of Israel’s Likud party adopted a resolution stating that there should never be a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Although Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is part of Likud, he opposed the resolution, which was pushed by his rival, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The papers all say that the vote isn’t binding but is a black-eye for Sharon and certainly won’t help build goodwill for peace negotiations. Everybody notes that Netanyahu, who is more of a hawk than Sharon, is angling to replace him. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the Mideast, but emphasizes that Israel called off a large invasion of Gaza, though it said it still might go in on smaller-scale raids. USA Today leads with news that former President Jimmy Carter arrived in Cuba yesterday at the invitation of one Fidel Castro. Carter is the first current or former president to visit Cuba in 74 years. The paper emphasizes that the Bush administration, which has taken a fairly hard-line against Cuba, is peeved about the trip.

As the NYT emphasizes, Castro offered to let Carter inspect Cuba’s bio-tech labs. Last week, a State Department official accused Cuba of sharing its bio research with “rogue states.”

Out of curiosity: Most Americans in effect aren’t allowed to travel to Cuba (they’re barred from spending money there). So how, exactly, did Carter, who’s not there in any official capacity, snag a ticket?

The WP adds a nice bit of context about the vote in Israel, “Likud’s Central Committee is a notoriously hawkish body, more so than the party’s overall membership.”

The papers all note comments by Netanyahu that while he might accept some form of Palestinian government, “a state with all the rights of a state, this cannot be, not under Arafat, nor under another leadership, not today nor tomorrow.”

The NYT emphasizes that one of the reasons Sharon held off invading Gaza is that Arab states have been pressuring Arafat to crack down on militants.

The WSJ goes high with news that for the second time in two weeks, somebody fired a rocket at a building housing U.S. military advisers in Pakistan. As with the previous attack, nobody was hurt.

The WSJ has a good piece saying that many of the elite in the ‘Stans of Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) are growing increasingly frustrated with the political repression in their respective countries. The news story, in what really amounts to more of an editorial, points out that the U.S. has enlisted these countries as allies in the war against al-Qaida and given them plenty of aid: “The key question is whether the U.S. will use its presence to push for political change.” The article, by the way, was written by Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist who authored the widely respected book Taliban.

The WP fronts word that the U.S. has been meeting with a wide array of Iraqi opposition groups. In the past, the U.S. had focused its support on the Iraqi National Congress. But many in the administration, most notably the CIA and State Dept., think the INC is led by a pretty inept bunch.

A front-page piece in the Post warns that there’s an “increased fear among terrorism experts” that the tactic of suicide belt-bombings will be exported to the U.S. The article—headlined “U.S. FEARS USE OF BELT BOMBS”—doesn’t suggest that there’s any hard evidence that such attacks are on the way or that the U.S. will be a specific target. Rather, the article simply points out that such bombings are exceedingly difficult to thwart and that more and more people are willing to strap them on.

The WP off-leads word that the Catholic Church has shifted its legal strategy: “Where once the church tried to quietly settle cases, according to church and plaintiff lawyers, it is now pursuing an aggressive litigation strategy.” The paper has various examples of such tactics. (In one case, “the church countersued a six-year-old boy and his parents, accusing them of negligence for trusting a priest.”) But the Post doesn’t put these examples in context. Namely, it doesn’t give readers a sense of when many of these cases took place. Because if they’re old, then what’s the change and when did it happen?  

The NYT fronts word that a number of administration officials are kvetching that top Bush political adviser Karl Rove appears to be giving foreign policy advice. As the paper headlines “SOME IN ADMINISTRATION GRUMBLE AS AIDE’S ROLE SEEMS TO EXPAND.” Some in the administration might be grumbling about the seeming expansion, but the 1,400-word article doesn’t quote any of them. The closest it comes is “a White House advisor loyal to Mr. Rove,” who said, “The Powell people are trying to delegitimize Karl and Andy as people who have no foreign policy experience as political hacks.”

Sunday’s WP Style section featured a contest challenging readers to “Write a haiku summarizing the career of any American politician, living or dead.” One sample offered by the Post:

Bob Dole
Injured veteran
Soft on corporate controls
Hard on a new drug