Today's Papers

Ankaras Away

Most of the papers lead with Iraq, though with different angles: The Washington Post, in a strongly worded piece, says the Iraqi government “apparently emboldened by antiwar sentiment at the U.N. Security Council and in worldwide street protests, has not followed through on its promises of increased cooperation with U.N. arms inspectors.” The top of the Wall Street Journal’s world-wide newsbox says head inspector Hans Blix plans to demand that Iraq dismantle its missiles that exceed their allowed range. The Los Angeles Times says that Britain and the U.S. will introduce a second resolution on Iraq in “the next few working days,” as one Brit diplomat put it. The resolution will probably, as has been expected, come with deadlines and, perhaps, benchmarks for Saddam to meet. The New York Times leads with the latest on Turkey and whether it will let itself be used as a launch-pad: White House officials sounded “pessimistic” that a deal can be worked out. That’s one way to describe it; “madder than hell” is another. One unnamed White House official called Turkey’s demands for more aid, “extortion in the name of alliance.” Another, in a rather unfortunate turn-of-phrase, said, “The Turks seem to think that we’ll keep the bazaar open all night.” USA Today leads with news that Germany convicted Mohamed Atta’s former roommate Mounir el-Motassadeq on 3,066 counts of accessory to murder for having played a logistical role in 9/11. El-Motassadeq said he didn’t know about the plot; the court didn’t buy that and sentenced him to the max: 15 years.

The Post’s lead, which quotes Iraqi government newspapers gloating about the protests, says U.N. inspectors are particularly ticked that Saddam has backed off on his promise to let scientists talk privately with inspectors. It seems that some scientists are now happy to be interviewed without government minders, so long as they can bring along tape recorders. “The tape recorder has been the stumbling block,” said one U.N. official. (Some cynics once suggested that would be a problem.)

The NYT mentions that White House officials essentially confirmed a Newsweek report that part of the wrangling with Turkey has to do with that country’s demands that it be allowed to control some of the oil-rich areas of northern Iraq. Meanwhile, according to the Financial Times, the White House is threatening to cut off Turkey’s military aid unless it heels. (Here’s an uncomfortable question the papers should ask: Might Turkey be setting the bar so high because it wouldn’t mind keeping U.S. troops out of northern Iraq? That way, perhaps, it could grab the land that it wants without pesky GIs getting in the way.)

The LAT catches news that a North Korean fighter plane violated South Korea’s airspace yesterday—the first such incursion in 20 years. The plane flitted away before it could be shot down. “North Korea is doing everything it can to provoke,” said one South Korean analyst. “This will continue until or unless the nuclear issue is settled with the United States.”

Everybody mentions that a Russian-built military transport plane crashed in Iran, killing about 300 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. It went down in bad weather.

A front-page LAT piece basically reiterates what the Journal said Tuesday: Syrian President Bashar Assad is freaking out that Bush might come after his country next, and partially as a result is moderating his regime a bit. (For what it’s worth: The LAT’s piece is filed from Syria, so it has a bit more color; you know, interviews with merchants and stuff.)

A Post story, stuffed on Page A9, says the Pentagon is showing interest in developing mini-nukes—the kind that would be easier to use on an actual battlefield. The military is apparently holding a conference in August to go over potential designs. Instead of this on Page One, the Post has another important snow story, and a piece on “Forbidden Love in China.” (The LAT reported last month that the Pentagon has drawn up contingency plans to use nukes preemptively in Iraq, including against bunkers.)

A NYT story suggests that sexual harassment and assault at the Air Force Academy is running rampant and that officials there have ignored the problem. “I probably knew 100 women when I was at the Air Force Academy,” said one female cadet. “I would say 80 experienced a sexual assault, and probably 40 of them were rape.” The Times says that the academy’s superintendent acknowledged that sexual assault is a “hugely under-reported crime.” In a pretty late acknowledgment that it’s piggy-backing on the reporting of others, the article’s18th paragraph mentions that the various accusations detailed in the piece were first reported by the ABC affiliate in Denver, KMGH-TV.

The Post, in keeping with a recent habit, fronts word that former House minority leader Dick Gephardt announced that he is—surprise!—running for president. And he slapped President Bush in the process. “Never has so much been done in so little time to help so few,” said Gephardt, who is running for the second time in 16 years.

The LAT fronts the latest crisis facing San Francisco (where TP is currently holed up in a secure, disclosed location): There is a dearth of celebs here, and that means charities can’t hope to roll in the cash by just inviting some big name to their bash. Unless, of course, they get the one A-lister in S.F.: Robin Williams. “It’s like I’m in a benefit SWAT team,” says the in-demand Williams. “There’s something every night. Is it gonna be ‘Save the Shrimp’ or ‘A Toupee Is a Terrible Thing to Waste’?”

Finally, the Journal looks at yet another gee-whiz tool the Pentagon has fielded: PCCDs or Poultry Chemical Confirmation Detectors. Yep, they’re chickens. And if they keel over they’ve done their job.