Today's Papers

Courting a Problem

The New York Times and Los Angeles Times lead with word that the Bush administration has continued to threaten to withdraw at least some support from U.N. peacekeeping missions unless U.S. peacekeepers get full immunity from the new, permanent war-crimes tribunal. USA Today leads with leaked memos from the Transportation Security Administration showing that the agency has recently required security managers to get permission from higher-ups and local officials before they shut down an airport due to some security breach. USAT notes that the memo also states that managers should balance security “against the strain that it can cause” at airports. The Washington Post leads with, and the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsboxwith, word that Afghan officials offered their “strongest criticism to date” (WP’s words) of U.S. military operations and demanded “further explanations” about Monday’s air attack that killed 40 people who were apparently attending a wedding party.

The papers each give a different sense of what the U.S. will do if its soldiers don’t get immunity from the new International Criminal Court. The LAT says in its first paragraph that the U.S. “appeared prepared to paralyze” existing U.N. missions worldwide. Meanwhile, the NYT headlines “U.S. MIGHT REFUSE NEW PEACE DUTIES.” (Emphasis added.) The Post, which goes inside with its report, looks on the bright side, headlining “BUSH PROMISES TO TRY TO SAVE BOSNIA MISSION.” The Post adds that Bush said U.S. support of the Bosnian operation is still contingent upon an immunity deal. 

USAT’s lead waits until the 10th paragraph to say that the new policy to restrict security closures at airports “looks to be temporary” and will probably be lifted “by the end of the year” when the government installs new federal managers to oversee airports.

Everybody quotes a White House statement, about the incident in Afghanistan, that said that President Bush expressed “his deep condolences for the loss of innocent life no matter what the cause is determined to be.”

The papers report that the Pentagon now says that an errant B-52 bomb probably didn’t cause the civilian casualties, but that a close-air-support gunship, known as an AC-130, might have fired on the wedding guests after mistaking celebratory gunfire for anti-aircraft fire. 

The Post paraphrases “local officials and survivors” who said that a U.S. gunship fired on the wedding celebration for two hours. The LAT has the highest estimate of casualties: up to 50 dead and 150 injured.

Everybody mentions that a group of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan was fired at yesterday. One soldier was hit in the foot. The troops had been returning from visiting some of the people wounded in Monday’s air attack. 

The papers all follow-up on Monday’s midair collision of two planes over Germany: According to reports, air-traffic controllers started warning the pilots only about 50 seconds before the planes hit. The WSJ says that the crash is fueling criticism about Europe’s lack of an integrated traffic control system.

Everybody takes note of a new U.N. report that concludes that the AIDS epidemic is exploding: According to the report, if prevention programs continue at their current levels, 65 million people will die of AIDS by 2020.

The papers all note that Pakistan’s interior minister blamed al-Qaida for “financing” last month’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Karachi. Another Pakistani official explained that al-Qaida “sub-contracted” out the bombing to a local militant group.

The papers mention inside that Yasser Arafat fired two of his security chiefs yesterday, including one who U.S. officials had regarded as among the most “cooperative” (NYT’s words).

The WP off-leads, and USAT fronts, a new study that found that hormone therapy doesn’t help older woman who suffer from heart disease and actually increases the risk of blood clots and gall bladder disease.

Everybody mentions that yesterday Steve Fossett became the first person to circumnavigate the globe solo in a balloon. This was Fossett’s sixth attempt; it took him 13 days.

USAT’s frontpage “Snapshot” graphic shows the results of a poll that examined what Americans are “most concerned” about regarding July 4. “Terrorism” came in third, at nine percent, trailing “fireworks” (14 percent), and “drunk driving” (64 percent).

According to a correction in the NYT, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was recently misquoted after he said that heavily armed police will patrol on July 4. The paper explains that Bloomberg added, in what he apparently thought was an off-the-record comment, “They’re big enough to blow away the press.” He did not say, “They’re going to have to blow away the press.”

As Today’s Papers noted yesterday, NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote Tuesday about a bio-defense scientist who many suspect is behind last fall’s anthrax attacks. Kristof identified the man only as “Mr. Z.” As one TP reader pointed out, “Mr. Z” is almost assuredly Stephen Hatfill. Hatfill’s biographical information matches up perfectly with the info Kristof gave about “Mr. Z”: Both are described as the bio-defense expert who’s under the most scrutiny for the attacks. Both reportedly claim to have once been members of a Rhodesian counter-insurgency unit as well as involved in South Africa’s army; and both apparently lost their security clearance last August. Among the media outlets that have in the past week reported on the FBI’s interest in Hatfill, and actually named him, are: CBS, ABC, NPR, AP, the Hartford Courant, the Baltimore Sun, and the NYT itself.