Today's Papers

Oh, My My My Schröder

USA Today leads with the emerging outlines of a deal to pass what will likely be a narrowed-down version of President Bush’s proposed Iraq resolution. Currently, the bill refers to the U.S. restoring security “in the region.” Democrats want that limited to Iraq. They also want to put a specific, and not too lengthy, time-frame on the mandate. According to the paper, the White House is OK with those changes. The New York Times leads with a look at the various moves the Pentagon is making to prepare the military for any coming invasion of Iraq. The Washington Post   leads with word that the administration plans to propose to vaccinate everybody in the U.S. against smallpox should an outbreak of the disease occur. The Post says that the plan is based on the assumption that any outbreak would be caused by terrorists and thus—unlike a natural outbreak—might hit several places at once. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox (online) with—and everybody else fronts—news that Chancellor Gerhard Schröder barely kept his job yesterday after German voters gave his coalition a thin majority. Schröder’s party itself, the Social Democrats, actually tied with the more conservative Christian Democrats. But Schröder’s coalition partners, the Greens, gained in popularity and thus are largely responsible for the victory. The winning coalition will control 305 of 601 seats in parliament. The Los Angeles Times leads with news that California Gov. Gray Davis signed the first state program in the country allowing workers to take six weeks paid leave after the birth of a child or to care for a sick family member.  

The Timeslead says that the Pentagon hasn’t started sending large numbers of troops to the Gulf. Instead, it’s doing little things to bulk up its forces, such as rushing to get three aircraft carriers ready to go. In a fascinating bit, the paper also says that the Pentagon has ordered what one official described as “some handfuls” of Special Ops troops to technically leave the military and join the CIA. That way, says the Times, they could be sent into Iraq “while allowing the Pentagon to maintain that no uniformed combat forces were in action.” The article, by the way, seems to have a small mistake: A photo caption accompanying the story says, “The Army’s Third Infantry Division is being deployed to Kuwait.” But according to the story itself, only one of division’s brigades is being deployed there, a fraction of the division’s full strength.

A front page piece in the Post says that despite public statements to the contrary, many Arab states either support the U.S.’s potential move against Saddam or at least wouldn’t oppose it. Of course, the paper adds, that might change if Saddam hits Israel and Israel hits back.

The WSJ has an interesting bit buried in its check-in piece on the status of the U.N. resolution about Iraq (current status: resolution still being negotiated): The U.N. is actually bound to adhere to a deal Kofi Annan made with Iraq back in 1998 whereby U.N. inspectors have to warn Iraq before they can search presidential palaces (where Saddam is thought to be hiding lots of bad stuff). The only way to get out of that deal is if the U.N. passes another resolution revoking it. The Journal’s report also seems to confirm something that was mentioned in this column yesterday: The Sunday LAT overshot when it headlined, “IRAQ EXCLUDES PALACES FROM INSPECTION SITES.” [Emphasis added.]

While everybody notes that Schröder’s anti-war rhetoric brought his party plenty of votes, the WP suggests that the decisive factor was actually that one of the conservative candidates was found to have sent an anti-Semitic campaign leaflet. The NYT emphasizes that German justice minister, who last week compared President Bush’s tactics to those of Hitler, wasn’t re-elected to her parliamentary seat. She can still be re-appointed to her Cabinet position, but both the NYT and WP say that’s really unlikely.

The WP fronts and everybody else stuffs news that Israeli soldiers stopped demolishing Yasser Arafat’s compound, though they’ve now either damaged or crushed every building there, include the one Arafat is in. Everybody notes that soldiers also hoisted an Israeli flag over Arafat’s building. (According to the LAT, they’ve now taken it down.) Meanwhile, at least four Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces after they ignored curfews and took part in demonstrations in the West Bank protesting Israel’s siege of Arafat.

Everybody says that Israel has been cutting off water and electricity to the compound. The goal, say the papers, is to try to make life so unpleasant for Arafat that he’ll take up Israel’s offer of a one-way ticket out of the country. The WP and NYT both say that Israel has vacillated on the number of alleged terrorists in the compound. The NYT says officials acknowledged that that’s because the real goal is to push Arafat out.

In an interesting bit plucked from—and credited to—the liberal Israel paper Ha’aretz, the NYT says that right before Israel’s latest move against Arafat’s compound, the central committee of the PLO was about to meet with Arafat to try and convince him to appoint a moderate prime minister (who would presumably in effect replace Arafat). Ha’aretz claims that Israeli officials knew about the now-canceled meeting before they moved in on Arafat.

The Journal says that Congress has now all but decided to create an independent commission to investigate 9/11-related intel failures. The Bush administration, which had opposed the idea, is now focusing on influencing the makeup of the board. (There’s a story idea: Who do they, and Congress, want on the board, and why?)

The papers all have short wire briefs on a story that could easily be front page material: About 150 American children—mostly the offspring of missionaries—are trapped in their school in the Ivory Coast as rebels have overtaken their city. “There has been artillery and mortar very close to the school,” said one school official. So far as Today’s Papers can tell, none of the papers have correspondents in the country—at least none of them are filing stories from there.

A WSJ op-ed invokes a psychological study to argue that liberals are wrong about their notions of happiness (i.e., the supposed tenet that redistribution of wealth increases happiness). The article isn’t convincing, but it does have one important revelation. According to the study, the leisure activity that has the highest positive correlation to participants’ happiness: country dancing.