Today's Papers

Draft Craft

Everybody leads, in one way or another, with a stringent proposal from the Bush administration that would allow weapons inspectors unfettered access to all Iraqi sites. The New York Times and the Washington Post lead with the resolution, which authorizes the use of military force should Iraq fail to comply. The Los Angeles Times lead focuses on the Democrats’ opposition to the use of force.

The Bush resolution is in draft form, three-and-a-half single-spaced pages, according to the NYT. It’s currently circulating among U.N. Security Council members, three of whom with veto power—China, Russia, and France—remain unconvinced. The resolution is seen as unfeasibly harsh—”designed to be rejected,” in the words of a U.N. diplomat in the Post.

Under the resolution, all of Iraq—probable weapons sites, but mosques and palaces as well—would be subject to inspection without notice, according to the WP. Saddam Hussein would have seven days to accept the resolution and another 23 to open up his country to inspectors. Before inspectors return, however, Iraq must provide a full account of its program to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Meanwhile, Democrats finished out the week with another round of antiwar sentiment. “The administration has not made a convincing case that we face such an imminent threat to our national security that a unilateral, preemptive American strike and an immediate war are necessary,” Ted Kennedy said in a speech at Johns Hopkins on Friday, as reported in the LAT lead. Al Gore and Tom Daschle had already assailed the White House earlier in the week. Three House Dems (Thompson, Bonior, and McDermott) are in Baghdad trying to pave the way for inspectors.

The NYT stuffs more on Donald Rumsfeld’s claims of an Iraq/al-Qaida link. Rumsfeld calls the evidence “bulletproof,” but no details are provided and he admits that his case would probably not hold up in an American court. When Colin Powell met with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, he got this from Nebraska Republican Chuck Hagel: “To say, ‘Yes, I know there is evidence there, but I don’t want to tell you any more about it,’ that does not encourage any of us. Nor does it give the American public a heck of a lot of faith that, in fact, what anyone is saying is true.”

The NYT goes above the fold with Walker vs. Cheney, a clash between the General Accounting Office, lead by the Comptroller General of the U.S., David Walker, and the vice-president. The GAO wants the details on Cheney’s energy-policy meetings from last year. The question before a federal judge is whether the GAO’s responsibility to investigate public spending outweighs the executive branch’s power to keep records confidential. The judge in the case—John Bates—was appointed by Bush last December.

The WP fronts the anti-globalization protests in D.C., which are slated to continue over the weekend. Friday’s action was somewhat underwhelming, with about 2,000 people (by the cops’ count) committing various acts of civil and less-than-civil disobedience around the district, from breaking a Citibank window to stripping down to their underwear in front of a Georgetown Gap. By midday, 649 had been hauled in to a South Washington police academy, where they were processed and fed. “A vegetarian meal was an option that officials added for this weekend’s protests after complaints from activists arrested at previous D.C. demonstrations,” the Post reports.

The LAT fronts a 20-minute finger-prick HIV test on the verge of obtaining FDA approval. The test is already in use in 90 other countries, prompting AIDS activists to accuse the FDA of dragging its feet. The current test takes two weeks and, according to the LAT, a third of those who test positive never come back for the results. There’s another controversy: An FDA advisory panel has recommended that the test be administered only in labs, while public health experts want it available at sex clubs, homeless shelters, and emergency rooms.

The WP fronts another sorry week for the Dow and the others, as more layoffs, disappointing profits, and war anxieties wreak havoc on the economy. The Dow rallied on Wednesday and Thursday, but lost 3.7 percent for the week, making for a five-week total loss of 13 percent. (It’s off 23 percent for the year.) An investment expert estimates that $15 billion has been pulled out of stock mutual funds in favor of bonds and savings accounts this month.

Finally, on the NYT’s op-ed page, author Joseph Epstein begs people not to write books. “According to a recent survey, 81 percent of Americans feel they have a book in them—and that they should write it. As the author of 14 books, with a 15th to be published next spring, I’d like to use this space to do what I can to discourage them.” Epstein suggests that so many people think they can write because so many bad books are written. “Something on the order of 80,000 books get published in America every year, most of them not needed, not wanted, not in any way remotely necessary.” So, he beseeches, “why add to the schlock pile?”