Today's Papers

Peacekeeping With Immunity

The New York Times leads with (and the others choose not to front) the federal government’s $165 billion deficit for this year, as calculated by the Bush administration. (The Dems say it will be closer to $200 billion, and even Senate Republicans put it at around $190 billion.) The Los Angeles Times leads with (and the NYT fronts) the U.N. Security Council’s granting American peacekeepers one year of immunity from the U.N.’s new International Criminal Court. The Washington Post goes with a pipe-bombing in D.C. that critically injured the son of a prominent businessman. The bomb exploded when the man started his car in a Wisconsin Avenue parking garage. Police do not believe it was an act of terrorism.

The federal deficit brings a four-year streak of surpluses to an end, according to the NYT lead. (The debt clock in midtown Manhattan will be lit up again after two years of darkness.) Let the bickering begin: Republicans say the fall of the stock market caused the deficit, while Democrats blame George W.’s $1.35 trillion, 10-year tax cut, which was based on optimistic long-term surplus projections. The GOP believes surpluses are just around the corner (2005), while their colleagues across the aisle say it may be decades before we see black again, the NYT reports.

The Times offers this bit of schooling: “Traditional economic theory holds that governments should run deficits during times of economic weakness because doing so effectively puts more money in the hands of businesses and individuals. Neither party advocates trying to close the budget gap this year or next, in part because of the economic implications.”

The paper’s companion piece on the front page tallies up the losses from the worst week on Wall Street since September. The Dow freefell almost 700 points, or 7.4 percent, while the Nasdaq dropped 5.2 percent. “The market is flushing itself out,” says a Morgan Stanley strategist in the Times.

“Two weeks of back-room wrangling” (LAT)—or, if you prefer the noun form, “an unusual wrangle between the United States and many other members” (NYT)—ended with the U.N. Security Council granting one year of immunity to American peacekeepers, protecting them from prosecution by the International Criminal Court. Why the need for immunity? “We are especially concerned that Americans sent overseas as soldiers, risking their lives to keep the peace or to protect us all from terrorism and other threats, be themselves protected from unjust or politically motivated charges,” says the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in the LAT. The one year is being called a compromise between the U.S. (which originally requested an indefinite period of immunity) and countries opposed to any immunity whatsoever—like Canada, whose ambassador called it a “sad day for the U.N.” (LAT). The one year is renewable and so might well turn out to be indefinite after all.

The NYT fronts a long piece on child labor in Ecuador, which it calls “enduring.” “The problem has been made more durable still by the competition that comes with a consolidated global market,” the Times reports. “Pressures on businesses to be efficient and profitable are often passed on to the world’s most vulnerable population, its poorest children.” The paper says that only a sharp wage increase will keep parents from sending their children to work in the banana fields.

The Post fronts a possible move by George Bush to reduce federal oversight of the Clean Water Act, leaving states to keep an eye on themselves as they keep an eye on their rivers, lakes and streams. The paper reminds that the EPA was originally brought in to force states to pay attention to a program—”Total Maximum Daily Load”—that they had been inclined to ignore. “The Bush EPA must be suffering from collective amnesia,” says an attorney from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The LAT tries to unravel the facts surrounding the week-old police brutality tape still making the rounds out in L.A. The tape shows white officers beating a handcuffed 16-year-old black boy, but it’s what happened before filming begins that’s in question. “What we see on the tape is the second beating,” says the attorney for the boy’s family. The police claim the boy was violently resisting arrest. The case has attracted old-school celebrity activists like Dick Gregory and Martin Luther King III; the latter’s photo spans four-columns on Page 1.

Finally, the NYT takes up the garbage issue in New York on its editorial page, calling for a mayorally appointed trash czar. The editorial sings the praises of composting, reduced packaging and recycling—just a few weeks after glass and plastic recycling was suspended in the city. “New York has been living large for too long,” the Times argues, “and like overly indulgent parents, its officials have done little or nothing to rein in the excess. The city needs to go on a trash diet.”