Today's Papers

It’s Settled

The New York Times and USA Today lead with the Boston Archdiocese’ agreement to an $85 million settlement of the sexual abuse cases against it, the largest such settlement by an American diocese. The papers all see this as a potential model for further settlements. The Los Angeles Times leads with word that California legislators agreed on a plan to reform the state’s worker compensation system. The paper’s national edition leads with, and the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with, yesterday’s two suicide bombings in Israel, which killed at least 13 and injured dozens. As the papers all note, the Boston Archdiocese has been the epicenter of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse case and under its previous archbishop had worked to undermine victims’ allegations. The new archbishop, who was just appointed in July, pushed the deal through. The Washington Post’s top non-local story is the House’s passage of a bill that approves a 4 percent raise for federal civilian employees and kills administration proposals to increase outsourcing of federal jobs.

One of the attacks in Israel was at a bus stop next to an army base outside Tel Aviv and left seven dead; the other explosion was just five hours later at a trendy cafe in Jerusalem. That bomber killed six people and injured 40. No group has taken responsibility for the blasts, though Hamas reps did call the media and express their support. A few days ago, Israel tried, and failed, to kill Hamas’ spiritual leader. And according to late-breaking reports reports, Israeli planes bombed the home of a senior Hamas political leader in Gaza this morning, slightly wounding him and killing three people.

As everybody also notes, Israeli forces killed four Palestinians yesterday, three militants and one 12-year-old boy bystander.

In news that everybody stuffs and most relegate to wire-copy, another GI was killed in Iraq, this time by a roadside bomb. Also yesterday, a car bomb exploded outside an office used by GIs in northern Iraq, killing one Iraqi, and wounding six Americans and more than 40 Iraqis.

A piece inside the LAT says the U.S. is trying to isolate France and is instead talking to other countries about “taking charge” of one or more areas of reconstruction in Iraq (presumably leaving the U.S. in overall control). “France was the ringleader of the opposition last time,” said one State Department official. “Our goal is to ensure it doesn’t happen again.” Administration officials explained that France is already acting badly, criticizing the U.S.’s offer without making a counter-proposal. “France is isolating itself by the way it’s handling itself,” said one official.

But here’s an odd thing: The NYT, in a stuffed piece, says that France, along with Germany and Russia, has actually offered a detailed counter-proposal. The proposal gives the U.N. shared responsibility on the political and economic front and leaves the U.S. in overall military control. U.S. diplomats apparently pooh-poohed the idea.

The WSJ notes that Air Force intel reports, kept on the down-low by the White House, had cast serious doubt on President Bush’s scary painting of Iraqi drones even while he was making the case last fall. As Bush cited drones in his kick-off-the-war-effort speech last October—”We’re concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the U.S.,” said the president—the Air Force had concluded that the drone program, theoretically capable of delivering chemical or biological weapons, was kaput. “We were pretty sure this thing was dead,” one named Air Force analyst told the Journal. As the WSJ notes, much of this was reported by AP last month—though, for some reason, there hasn’t been much followup coverage.

While the media snoozed for nearly a year, it was pretty easy to see that president’s allegations about the drones were sketchy. How easy? One lazy guy lounging in Brooklyn mentioned it just a few hours after the speech. (Speaking of which, Slate contributor David Greenberg has a helpful piece in the Columbia Journalism Review explaining why the press are often such scaredy-pants and shy away from calling out government officials on their lies.) 

According to a piece inside the NYT, “QUESTIONS GROW ON PAKISTAN’S COMMITMENT TO FIGHT TALIBAN.” The article says it’s not clear if the problem is one of intent or simply capacity, but whatever the case there are plenty of Taliban sympathizers along the border with Afghanistan and, yes, within Pakistan’s army and intel services.

The U.S.’s former top envoy to North Korea, who recently quit, continues barnstorming against the Bush administration’s position on Pyongyang and continues urging the White House to begin bilateral negotiations. Today, he pens a LAT op-ed and is interviewed in the same paper.

The NYT and LAT front the death of Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb.

Most of the papers reefer the death of Leni Riefenstahl, 101, famed filmmaker and, though she tried to downplay it, Nazi propagandist.

Honesty is hardly ever heard and mostly what I need from you.  Post columnist Al Kamen notices that after taking much heat about the White House’s sputtering Iraq strategy, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice finally unloaded and admitted to what has been, no doubt, the White House’s largest miscalculation. “If there was something that was really underestimated,” she began slowly, “it was how really awful Saddam Hussein was to his own people.”