Today's Papers

Daschle’s Daggers

The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post all lead with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle demanding an apology from President Bush for having said that the Democratic-led Senate is “not interested in the security of the American people.” USA Today, which reefers Daschle’s tough talk, leads with word that some Arab countries have been quietly trying to convince Saddam that his best option is to pack his things and head into exile. The paper says the U.S. supports the idea, but doesn’t want to do so publicly because then Saddam would never ever consider it.

“That is wrong,” said Daschle. “We ought not politicize this war. We ought not politicize the rhetoric about war and life and death.” The White House shot back that Daschle had taken Bush’s comments out of context and reminded him that the president was referring to the debate about giving job protection rights to workers at the new Department of Homeland Security. Everybody contextualizes the kerfuffle by noting that Democrats sense that the White House is using Iraq to gain an advantage in the coming elections. The WP adds that “more than a dozen Democrats” told the paper that plenty of Dems oppose the White House’s Iraq stance, but are going to support it anyway because they’re afraid of taking heat from voters.

USAT fronts a piece on a little discussed bio-weapon: botulinum toxin. (Yes, it’s related to Botox.) The piece says Iraq already has it, and the U.S. doesn’t have a good defense against it. The only anti-toxin available has to be culled from the blood of horses, a time-consuming (and seemingly medieval) process that has resulted in very little of the stuff now being available. Also, the process to administer it is so delicate that can’t be done in battle. Overall, it sounds like a nightmare, though the paper mentions in the 35th paragraph that the bad stuff is actually pretty hard to deliver.

The NYT and Wall Street Journal go high with word that the Bush administration, in a big policy shift, has decided to send a high-level diplomat to meet with North Korean leaders. The talks will revive, but not be limited to, negotiations the Clinton administration had with the country to rein in North Korea’s weapons-development programs.

The WP off-leads word that NATO is set to invite seven Eastern European countries to join the alliance: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The Post says that the big expansion was helped along by President Bush’s recently stated opinion that NATO should be more inclusive.

USAT top-fronts, and others goes inside with, word that French troops escorted 100 American children out of a school in a rebel-held city in the Ivory Coast. Actually, USAT, which bases its story on wire reports, says that both American and French troops “carried out the rescue.” But the NYT’s story, which was actually filed from the Ivory Coast, says only the French got the kids out. 

The LAT and NYT both front word that a rising star scientist at Bell Labs has been busted for creating bogus results in several high-profile supposed discoveries. The LAT includes the nice bit that the panel investigating the guy found that among his 16 different instances of fudging data, he published the same exact data chart in two different experiments that had nothing to do with each other.

The LAT has a good story pointing out that next to many U.S. military bases in South Korea are strip joints and brothels where some women are essentially sex-slaves. “You know something is wrong when the girls are asking you to buy them bread,” said one GI.

A front page piece in the Post notes that with just five days left in the federal fiscal year, Congress still hasn’t settled any of its big appropriations bills that fund the government. The paper says the government won’t shut down, since Congress is sure to pass continuing-funding bills. But what might not get funded are many local projects, since money for them is often included in the big appropriations bills. The Post, in what’s a common habit in the media, repeatedly calls such federal funding of local projects “pork.” But do all local projects for which a congressman has nabbed funds deserve that nasty label? Wouldn’t it make more sense to use it only to refer to such appropriations that are actually needless or wasteful?

Yesterday, Today’s Papers asked readers whether the NYT was correct when it said that recently released Census numbers show a “clear trend” that income inequality is increasing. TP received over 75 e-mails, most pointing out that the NYT was right. (Some also charged that TP was lazy.) As this Census Bureau chart shows, there has indeed been a general trend toward the wealthy earning an increasingly larger percentage of the country’s income, while there has been an opposite—and much less dramatic—trend among the poorest fifth of the population. Scientific American has a handy chart illustrating this point. The first reader to write in with the answer was Navy Ensign Adam Parish. His prize: Any one of three barely-used ab-improvement devices. Congratulations, Adam!