Today's Papers

A Cut Glut?

The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times lead with the Federal Reserve’s decision to cut short-term interest rates by a quarter point to a 45-year low of 1 percent. It was the 13th cut in the past two and a half years. USA Today leads with a new study suggesting that doctors only provide solid health care about 50 percent of the time. According to the survey, doctors often missed giving obviously necessary treatments, such as beta-blockers to heart-attack patients. But as the researchers noted, the estimate may actually be too high since it might just be that doctors keep poor records of what treatments they give, which, of course, isn’t so great either. The New York Times’ top non-local story looks at a new IRS analysis showing that the nation’s wealthiest 400 taxpayers saw their income on average nearly quadruple during the 1990s. At the same time, those folks also saw their tax burden ease, mostly due to the reduced capital gains tax.

As a NYT analysis on the cut emphasizes, the market actually went down after the announcement since many investors had been betting on a larger half-point cut. The LAT suggests the cut probably won’t do much to help the parts of the economy—namely manufacturing—that are still sagging. Meanwhile, notes the paper, the things it could help most, such as housing, are already on fire.

According to the NYT, nearly two-thirds of the richie-riches’ income growth came via capital gains, and as the paper also notes, the data for the relevant study ends in 2000. Those facts suggest that much of the income explosion was caused by the stock bubble, which, in case the Times needs reminding, burst a few years ago. In other words, the data is dated—making this a pretty weak candidate for above-the-fold play, even on a slow news day.

According to early morning reports, another GI has been killed in Iraq. He was traveling near Baghdad’s airport when a remote-controlled bomb was detonated.

The NYT fronts word that the State Dept.’s intelligence division disputed the CIA’s finding that the mobile labs recently found in Iraq were definitely for making bio weapons. The White House trumpeted the CIA’s conclusion in a public report and according to the Times never let the State Dept. intel unit have input into the report or even know about it beforehand. As the NYT has pointed out previously, some analysts have taken issue with the CIA’s conclusion, but this is the first time that it’s come out that a whole U.S. government agency has done so.

The papers all play down and stuff the admission by an Iraqi scientist that in 1991 he buried nuke program materials and documents in his rose garden. He put the stuff there on orders from one of Saddam’s sons and was told that one day, probably when inspectors finally left and sanctions ended, he would be given the order to dig it up, but the order never came. “Iraq would still have been years from making a [nuclear] weapon,” one analyst told the Post. “But they would have saved themselves time, on the order of years.”

The story was broken by CNN and NBC. And with the information on it still very fragmentary, the papers’ gingerly approach to it tonight—the NYT only gives it a wire story—is understandable. But this could be a very important development. Not because it confirms the Bush administration’s assertions that Saddam was secretly developing nukes—in many ways it suggests the opposite—but because it seems to be a key bit of evidence in support of what now has to be the leading theory to what happened to the no-no weapons: As a short Newsweek piece suggested back in March, Saddam seems to have mothballed them and kept the blueprints, presumably in the hopes that one day he could get things rolling again. Personal to the papers: Don’t let this story float by just because you don’t want to slum and play catch-up with TV news.


The Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who has been on a roll, details the riot in which six British military police officers were killed Tuesday. Town members had themselves killed out Baathists during the war and the British had been keeping a low profile. But then the U.K. troops launched what many in town felt were overly intrusive sweeps to disarm residents, and enraged villagers stormed the soldiers’ HQ. Chandrasekaran says it was an “Alamo-like siege” that went on for hours until the soldiers ran out of ammo and appear to have been executed. AsChandrasekaran notes, what’s particularly worrisome about the attack is that it was done by Iraqis who basically have zilch sympathy for Saddam.

The NYT fronts word from Palestinian officials that they’ve just about wrangled a cease-fire promise from Hamas and other militant groups. Local Hamas leaders disputed that. But as the NYT explains, the agreement appears to be being made with Hamas leadership in Syria. Also yesterday, Israeli helicopters in Gaza fired on a car that they said was loaded with mortars. At least one militant was wounded, while two bystanders appear to have been killed and another 16 wounded.

As everybody gets increasingly worried about the emerging guerrilla campaign against U.S. forces in Iraq, a WP op-ed writer argues that in some ways it’s actually a good sign: Gary Anderson, a former Marine officer, says that the Baathists screwed up by launching their rebellion too soon, right when American military power in the country is at its prime: “Now they are facing retaliation from the U.S.-led coalition at precisely the time they should be resting and recovering.” As it happens, right before Baghdad fell, Anderson predicted a “protracted guerrilla war.”