Everybody leads with Iraq’s agreeing to the terms of the U.N.’s new resolution on weapons inspectors. The message came via a rambling and vitriolic letter from Saddam’s foreign minister. It called the Security Council, “a gang of evil,” and said Iraq would break off its promised cooperation if the U.S. “tampers” with inspections. In fact, the nine-page letter was so filled with nastiness that it didn’t get to the acceptance until page six. The Wall Street Journal concludes up high that the tough talk was intended to give Saddam street-cred and convince his domestic audience that he didn’t give in. Inspectors are scheduled to begin arriving Monday.
A New York Times front-page piece focuses on what it says is the “divergence of views” between the U.S. and other countries about what level of Iraqi transgressions should trigger action. The paper hangs the piece on U.N. Chief Kofi Annan’s comments yesterday that President Bush should be “a bit patient” and not go to war based on “flimsy” evidence.
A front-page piece in the Los Angeles Times says that OPEC countries, namely Saudi Arabia, have recently been flooding the market with oil. The paper says it’s not really clear why the countries are pumping so vigorously, but says that whatever the reason, such overproduction will probably soften the blow should Iraq’s oil industry take a forced vacation soon.
Everybody fronts the word that the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops came out with a revised policy calling for sexually abusive priests to eventually be removed from the ministry. The bishops had passed a zero-tolerance resolution earlier this year, but the Vatican rejected it, saying that it didn’t have enough safeguards to protect priests against false accusations. The revised rules create a tribunal that will investigate charges before actions are taken against priests. (Question: Do the new rules also require the charges to be taken to the police? If no, why not?) The bishops argued that they didn’t water down their previous position and instead just added a bit of due process. Everybody quotes victims’ rights groups disputing that. But overall, the papers give the impression that the bishops are right. Meanwhile, the NYT does suggest another area in which the new rules are a step back: The bishops rejected a provision that would have censured bishops who protect abusive priests by moving them from one parish to another.
Everybody goes high with follow-up pieces on the audio tape that looks to have been recorded by OBL. There’s still no consensus on whether it’s the real deal: Apparently the National Security Agency thinks it is. But according to the NYT, the CIA has its doubts or at least isn’t willing to say one way or the other.
A front-page piece in the Washington Post says that intel officials are worried about what they say is an increase in “chatter” among al-Qaida types in the past 10 days. The article doesn’t mention that countries in the EU recently ramped up their security because of the same concerns.
Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan testified in front of Congress yesterday, not that anyone was sure what he said. The NYTheadlines, “FED CHIEF SAYS HE BACKS BUSH ON THE TAX CUT.” Meanwhile, in the bizarro world, the WP reports, “GREENSPAN THROWS DAMPER ON PERMANENT TAX-CUT PLAN.” TP’s head-hurtin’ explanation: Both papers might be right. Greenspan said that he thinks making the tax cut permanent won’t do any good in the short term,since the market already treats the cut as if it is permanent. But along the same lines, he said, it would “be unwise to unwind the long-term tax cut, because it is already built into the system.” Get it? (Pedantic Point: Part of the issue is whether Greenspan meant “unwind” in the short-term or long-term.)
The WP’sWhite House correspondent, Dana Milbank, has developed a solid habit lately of fact-checking the president’s statements. In the latest installment, Milbank takes on Bush’s comment that “the deficit would have been bigger without the tax-relief package.” Milbank says that logic, dubbed “voodoo economics” by Bush’s dad, doesn’t hold water. As one conservative economic put it, the tax cut “is decreasing revenues.”
A piece inside USA Today’s Life section examines the “growing trend” of female sex-advice columnists at college newspapers. Sounds like a great story—if only the NYT hadn’t done it a month ago. Actually, there is one thing that USAT has that the NYT didn’t: The most, shall we say, evocative photo you’ll probably ever see in a newspaper. Sadly, it isn’t posted online. But here’s a hint: The photo credit reads, “Playboy.com.”
Tip to the curious: Page D9.