Today's Papers

Name That Detainee

The New York Times leads with (and the others front) a decision by a federal judge requiring the Bush administration to release the names of hundreds of people detained after Sept 11. The judge rejected the Justice Department’s claim that disclosure of this sort would impede terrorism investigations. The Washington Post leads with the new covert operations being considered by the Pentagon in its fight against terror. The Los Angeles Times goes with another dose of sorry economic news, as the unemployment rate hits 5.9 percent for July, an eight-year high. 

Judge Gladys Kessler, a Clinton appointee, says “the first priority of the judicial branch must be to ensure that our government always operates within the statutory and constitutional constraints which distinguish a democracy from a dictatorship,” the NYT reports in its lead. The Post reminds us that it was Kessler who last February ordered the release of documents relating to Dick Cheney’s energy task force. In the current case, she has problems with, among other things, the government’s slippery numbers, e.g., she has “no idea whether there are 40, 400 or possibly more people in detention on material witness warrants,” the WP reports. Roughly 1,200 people are known to have been rounded up since Sept 11, most (751) on immigration violations. Only 74 of those remain in custody, none of whom have been charged with terrorism, according to the Post.

Don Rumsfeld is trying to put the spring back in the step of the war against terror, the Post reports in its lead. (The paper actually uses the words “reinvigorate” and “jump-start.”) He met with the head of Special Operations and went over some new tactics, such as having Navy SEALS board and search vessels on the high seas around the world without permission. Rumsfeld believes “the war is being prosecuted with insufficient drive and imagination.” (The WP’s words.)

The NYT fronts a different Rumsfeld story, this one about his proposed undersecretary of defense for intelligence. The Times predicts an intelligence turf war if the new position gets Congressional approval. Richard Haver, Rumsfeld’s special adviser on intelligence policy, is supposedly the top candidate.

Only 6,000 jobs were added to the economy in July, the LAT reports. The paper explains why this is a problem in its concise joblessness primer: “Employment needs to expand by about 150,000 a month just to keep pace with the entrance of new workers, economists estimate. Anything slower, and either the jobless rate goes up, or employees who have lost jobs give up looking for new ones and drop out of the labor force.” There was good news, too, for July, if you knew where to look for it, e.g., earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers continued to rise, climbing 4 cents to $14.79.

The NYT and the Post front an outbreak of West Nile virus in the Gulf states, mostly in  Louisiana, where four people have died and 58 are ill. The CDC has dispatched ten of its best bug people to the region. There are two reasons for concern, according to the Times: the onset of the disease has been earlier this summer, and younger people have become sick. Only the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are at risk of death from the disease. There is no treatment. The Post says most infected people will exhibit no symptoms at all, while the Times reminds that West Nile was first detected in the U.S. in New York City in 1999.

The virus is curiously absent from the LAT’s front page and Web site, but they do stuff mention of another Baton Rouge serial killer: A man linked by DNA to three murders may have had a hand in another thirty—hence the “controlled panic” in the state capital. “Women are buying up guns faster than the hunting stores can stock them. Jogging paths are desolate. The easy interactions of these laid-back streets have been replaced by terse responses and lowered eyes….The killer could be anybody.” And so on.

The NYT fronts a report by an independent consultant on the NY Fire Department’s response to Sept 11. The findings are similar to those contained in a separate report, by the same consultant, on the NYPD some weeks back: problems with radio communication, lack of discipline and a breakdown in coordination with other agencies, most notably, in this case, the police. A positive finding: the fire department managed to maintain fire coverage throughout the city; response times rose by only a minute, to 5.5 minutes. Three-hundred and forty-three fire fighters died. 

Finally, the NYT fronts the vitamin-water frenzy that’s gripping the U.S., as consumers turn to the liquid cure-all to slake not only their thirst, but also their impotence, their rotting teeth and their estrogen deficiencies. Glaceau Vitaminwater “totally works for me,” says the company’s president. Bullshit, say others. “How many people do you know with vitamin deficiencies or mineral deficiencies?” says a physiology professor at UConn. “If you have a vitamin deficiency you’ll know. People don’t have scurvy in our country.” What they do have is fat and, at over 100 calories per serving, the waters may help with that as well.