Today's Papers

Breaking the Bank

The New York Times and the Washington Post lead with Israeli tanks and troops seizing Palestinian territory in the West Bank. At least 10 Palestinians were killed, including three children who were mistakenly hit by warning fire. The Los Angeles Times leads with (and the others front) the indictments of three former Rite Aid execs charged with accounting fraud.

Only one of the 10 Palestinians killed on Friday was a combatant, according to the NYT. In Jenin, Palestinians went to market after hearing a rumor that their curfew had been lifted. They were greeted with Israeli tank fire intended as a warning, but which killed four Palestinians—including the three children. “In a rare admission, the army said in a statement that it had made a mistake,” the Times reports. There was scattered violence—and deaths—elsewhere in the West Bank as well.

In what the Times calls an “increasingly desperate effort to remain relevant,” Yasser Arafat gave an interview to an Israeli newspaper, saying he’s now ready to accept the peace plan offered by Bill Clinton two years ago at Camp David. “In the interview, Mr. Arafat accused ‘foreign’ elements of exploiting hopeless young Palestinians to commit suicide bombings in exchange for money,” the NYT reports.

In paragraph one of its lead, the NYT calls the latest Israeli incursion into the West Bank a “permanent armed presence,” but then pulls back a bit in graph two, quoting the Israeli government, which claims the taking of Palestinian lands will continue only “as long as terror continues.” (Online, the two graphs are separated by an insidious block ad, this one for Project Liberty, a New York state agency helping people cope with Sept 11.)

The crimes committed at Rite Aid—not by shoplifters but by the drugstore chain’s key executives—dwarf similar schemes at other companies, including Enron, according to the LAT’s lead. “This isn’t pushing the edge of the ethical envelope,” says a defense attorney. “Here the envelope was torn up and thrown away. You can get a gun and rob a bank, or you can make up numbers at a public company. Either way, it’s a crime.” Subtlety was not part of the plan: Suits ordered underlings to simply alter bookkeeping records by tens of millions of dollars to make the company’s financial results appear better than they were.

The day’s priest stories (each paper fronts one) cover familiar territory—until you get to the NYT’s “Priest Charged in Rape in 2000 in the Rectory.” A priest formerly assigned to a Brooklyn parish is accused of groping, forcibly sodomizing, and raping a woman who came to him for advice about annulling her marriage. After telling church officials that he was returning home to Nigeria, the priest relocated to Loredo, Texas, where he became a hospital chaplain. The case was one of dozens recently turned over by the church to the Brooklyn D.A. The statute of limitations had expired on most of them. 

The NYT takes up the subject of Shakespeare in an editorial on “A Funeral Elegy,” the poem attributed to Will in 1995 by a Vassar prof, who has since recanted. (“Textual evidence giveth, and textual evidence taketh away,” quips the paper.) “[I]t’s impossible not to think of the thousands of hours that Shakespeareans, young and old, professional and amateur, have spent trying to reconcile ‘A Funeral Elegy’ with the corpus of Shakespeare.” The poem, the Times claims, “would have been Shakespeare’s worst moment as a writer.” 

Everybody fronts full-color photographs of despondent U.S. soccer fans or players after the 1-0 loss to Germany. The accompanying fronter in the Post talks of progress and a bright future and players leaving the stadium with their heads held high. “To get to the quarterfinal is great,” says goalie Tony Meola, “but maybe we learned a little bit about how cruel the game is sometimes. I thought that we at least gave ourselves a chance to win—that’s for sure. We at least gave ‘em something to think about.”

Finally, the NYT fronts L’Effroyable Imposture, or “The Horrifying Fraud,” the Sept 11 conspiracy theory that’s become a runaway bestseller in France. The author of the book argues that the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center were perpetrated by right-wingers within the U.S. government, who “were planning a coup unless President Bush agreed to increase military spending and go to war against Afghanistan and Iraq to promote the conspirators’ oil interests.” (NYT’s words.) The fun is in figuring out why the French are susceptible to such tripe. One of the book’s French critics argues that the French often believe they “are victims of plots, that the truth is hidden from them, that they should not believe official versions, but rather that they should demystify all expressions of power, whatever they might be.”

The English version hits U.S. bookshelves in July.