Today's Papers

Kiss and Tell 

The Washington Post and New York Times lead with word that President Bush appointed Henry Kissinger to head the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks. Former Democratic Sen. George Mitchell was named vice chairman. The Los Angeles Times leads with a check-in on Iraq: Weapons inspectors started poking around sites yesterday. Meanwhile, the administration is dispatching high-level diplomats to countries in the Mideast and Europe in an effort to build support for action.

(According to early morning reports caught by the LAT, in Mombasa, Kenya a bomb exploded outside a hotel where many Israelis were staying. At least seven people were killed and 60 injured. At roughly the same time, somebody fired two missiles at an Israeli passenger plane that had just taken off from Mombasa airport. The plane only suffered minor damage and continued on to Israel.)

The NYT says the appointment of Kissinger “surprised” some relatives of the Sept. 11 victims. In other words, they were pissed. Some Democrats also complained: They pointed out that during his time in government Kissinger didn’t exactly show a deep commitment to transparency. (For more details on that, see Christopher Hitchens’ article yesterday in Slate, in which Hitchens calls Kissinger “a man with a long, proven record of concealing evidence and of lying to Congress, the press, and the public.”)

For his part, Kissinger promised “to go where the facts lead us.”

The WP and NYT front word that President Bush proposed to loosen the rules under which national forests can be logged. According to the administration’s plan, managers of national forests will no longer be required to do environmental impact statements when they submit development plans.

The administration argued that the old rules were too costly and cumbersome. They said the changes will cut the cost of forest planning by 30 percent. Meanwhile, the papers all mention that the rules appear to have been shaped by Under Secretary of Agriculture Mark Rey. As everybody points out, before Rey’s current gig, he was a lobbyist and exec for the timber industry. The NYT also mentions that included in the proposals is a provision to toss aside Clinton-era rules that require the government to ensure that species in national forests don’t become endangered.

Everybody fronts word that the FDA has approved the nation’s top-selling allergy drug, Claritin, for over-the-counter-sales. A month’s supply of Claritin currently costs about $60. It will sell over the counter for less than half that. But, as the NYT emphasizes, the decision will end up costing some people  more money: Insurance companies won’t cover Claritin anymore; so, people will have to begin paying for it out of pocket.

The LAT and NYT both reefer pieces on today’s Likud party elections in Israel to choose its candidate for prime minister. According to the papers, current Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is set to trounce his opponent, Foreign Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In most polls, Sharon is ahead of Netanyahu by at least 20 points. Netanyahu has campaigned as a far-right candidate, while Sharon has—improbably—positioned himself as a moderate. “The underlying current is that people want to hope for something,” one analyst told the NYT. “And Netanyahu is not a messenger of hope.”

A painful story … The WP fronts complaints from former weapons inspectors that the current Hans Blix-led team isn’t up to snuff. The Post says that the new inspectors apparently haven’t been given background checks. The WP focuses on one inspector who may not have sufficient expertise and, the Post emphasizes, likes to tie people up in his private time: He’s into S&M. The Post, which only names this one inspector, goes on for four paragraphs about the man’s sexual hobbies. The Post (at least online) also provides a picture of the inspector holding an unidentified, round, metal contraption; the photo is credited to “Leather University.”

Sure, it’s Thanksgiving. But did the WP have to give all of its editors the day off? Who cares if the inspector is into S&M? There’s no evidence that the guy’s sexual habits interfered with his work. And tip to the Post: S&M is typically consensual. So, why publish a story delving into the guy’s leather hobbies? It’s gratuitous and sleazy. The Post should apologize … and get 40 lashes.