Today's Papers

Bloody Sunday

The Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times all lead with, and the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with, the multiple Palestinian attacks against Israelis yesterday. In the deadliest attack, a suicide bomber blew up a commuter bus in northern Israel, killing nine people and wounded about 50. In another incident, an Israeli couple was killed in the West Bank when their car was ambushed. In yet another attack, a Palestinian gunman in Jerusalem opened fire on telephone workers, killing one person before Israeli police killed him and an innocent Palestinian bystander. Two other terror attacks yesterday left another seven Israelis injured. USA Today, which reefers the Mideast story, leads with word from U.S. intel sources that Saddam Hussein is wooing Kurds in northern Iraq not to lend their support to a U.S. invasion. Saddam apparently is promising to let them have continued autonomy as well as to let them continue making some money off of Iraq’s oil revenues. Kurds, who make up about 15 percent of Iraq’s population, want independence. But as USAT notes, the U.S. has suggested that even in the event of a successful invasion, they won’t get it.

Hamas claimed responsibility for yesterday’s bus bombing, calling it “further riposte to the killing of our leader.” (A couple of weeks ago, an Israeli airstrike killed one of the heads of Hamas, along with 14 other people.)  The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an off-shoot of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the gunman’s attack in Jerusalem, while the nominally leftist PFLP claimed responsibility for one of the other attacks.

Everybody mentions that the Israeli police didn’t have the best aim when they tried to shoot the gunman in Jerusalem. The WP gives the most detailed sense of what happened. As one witness (an American tourist) told the Post, Israel soldiers “were shooting up the whole place.” The Post says 17 people were injured in the exchange. 

The two Times both point out up high that Israel yesterday blew up nine Palestinian houses, which it said belonged to the families of suicide bombers. Also, Israel said it’s still planning to deport the relatives of some of those allegedly responsible for terror attacks.

The display-type on USAT’s Mideast article reads, “MIDEAST BLOODSHED CONTINUES UNABATED: Palestinians, Israelis Urged To Stop.” That’s way abstract, and misleading. Sure, within the larger scheme of things it may be accurate to say that both sides share some responsibility for the long-term trends of violence. But that’s beside the point, because it’s not what actually happened yesterday. To see how the paper could have done it differently, check out the NYT’s headline: “BURST OF ATTACKS FROM PALESTINIANS CAUSES 14 DEATHS.”  

The NYT off-leads and the WSJ goes high with news that the White House agreed to lend Uruguay $1.5 billion to try to help plug up the country’s financial crisis. According to the deal, the U.S. loan will be repaid with dough from international donor agencies, such as the World Bank. Both papers note that the loan is a big about-face for the Bush administration, which came into office opposing such deals.

The Post fronts word of increasing tensions between Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, and its defense minister, Mohammed Fahim. Karzai has U.S. backing, but he doesn’t have a militia. Fahim, who one diplomat described as “having the tendencies of a street thug,” has thousands of troops in his own militia. The Post says that part of the problem appears to be that the U.S. has been reluctant to put pressure on Fahim, since it relies on him to go after al-Qaida remnants. (The WSJ had a piece last week that knocked Fahim and the U.S.’s relatively cozy relationship with him.)

The WP goes inside with a wrap-up of the Iraq war-talk on the Sunday news shows. In the most interesting bit of chatter, Brent Scowcroft, chairman of the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (and a former national security advisor to papa Bush), said an invasion could “turn the whole region into a cauldron and, thus, destroy the war on terrorism.”

According to a headline inside the WP, “FIGHTING HUNGER EMERGES AS NONPARTISAN ISSUE.”The article’s first paragraph explains, “A poll found that 93 percent of voters said that ‘fighting the hunger problem’ was important when deciding who to choose” in congressional elections. The paper points out that the poll was sponsored by a group called the Alliance to End Hunger. That kind of seems like it should trigger a red flag that the poll might have contained leading questions. But the Post doesn’t mention that possibility, nor does it look like the paper actually looked at the poll questions: The only voter figures cited by the paperare those highlighted in the poll’s press release. Meanwhile, judging by a fly-by of the advocacy group’s Web site, the organization hasn’t even released the polling data or questions.

By the way, the article quotes two people, both pollsters saying that hunger is now a big voter issue. The Post notes that one of the guys helped devise the poll. Left unsaid: According to the poll’s press release, so did the other guy.