Today's Papers

Oil Slick

The Washington Post and the New York Times lead with the suicide bombing in Haifa that killed at least 19 people on Saturday, the eve of Yom Kippur. The Israeli response, at least as of press time for the papers, has been muted. The Los Angeles Times fronts the bombing, but leads with the California recall.

The WP reports that the Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack, identifying the suicide bomber as a woman from Jenin whose brother and cousin were killed by Israeli troops in June. The incident occurred in a crowded seaside restaurant owned by Jews and managed by Arabs, according to the Post. The dead included several children and at least four Israeli Arabs.

The coverage includes graphic impressions of the carnage. From the LAT:“The bombing here turned a brilliant afternoon at the seaside into a grisly battlefield tableau, where the dead lay mangled and the wounded staggered through pools of blood and body parts. Wires dangled from the ceiling of the Maxim restaurant, while smoke wafted through its blown-out windows. Rescue workers combed the gutted eatery in search of survivors.”

“Everyone who has had a hand in this attack should worry,” said a spokesman for Ariel Sharon in the NYT, when asked about Yasser Arafat, who condemned the attack but is blamed for not doing enough to dismantle terrorist groups. On Sept. 11, the Times reminds, Sharon’s government announced that it would “remove” Arafat, even if it meant killing him.

The bombing also raised questions about the fence Israel is building to separate the West Bank and Israel. “The burden can’t be on the fence,” an Israeli Foreign Ministry official says in the Post. “Once the fence is completed, you can say, ‘Look, it failed.’ But it’s really too early to judge the fence.”

The LAT makes the rather odd choice to lead not with the bombing, but with more recall coverage, much of it relatively familiar, though, Today’s Papersadmits, still tantalizing. “The political imperative that each man faced Saturday was illustrated by the company he kept,” the paper dryly observes. Gray Davis palled around with Democrats, like Dianne Feinstein, who pleaded with union members in Oakland to “come home.” And Arnold surrounded himself with women (including his wife), presumably without incident. He denied the new accusations that appeared in the LAT Saturday and accused the paper of being in league with Davis. Later in the day, though, he was more kindergarten cop than terminator, offering a sort of apology to the women he may have manhandled. (A total of 15 have now come forward.) “Where I did make mistakes, or maybe I did go overboard sometimes … I regret that,” he told the San Diego Union-Tribune, promising “this is a different Arnold.”

The Oakland Tribune withdrew its endorsement of Schwarzenegger on Saturday, citing the proliferating accusations. 

In its off-lead, the NYT reports that a secret U.S. government task force, convened last fall, concluded that the Iraqi oil industry was badly damaged by a decade of trade embargoes and was not likely to cover the cost of rebuilding the country after a war. These conclusions are at odds with statements made by administration officials after the report was released. According to the Times, Paul Wolfowitz told Congress during the war that “we are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” In April, Dick Cheney said that Iraq’s oil production could reach 3 million barrels a day by the end of the year, though the task force had determined that Iraq was generating less than 2.4 million barrels a day before the war. The administration is downplaying the report. “I think when it is all said and done,” says the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, “prewar estimates that may be borne out in fact are likelier to be more lucky than smart.”

The NYT’s Sunday Styles section pays loving tribute to George Plimpton and the parties he left behind. The best anecdotes come from Plimpton’s young staff, who spent their days poring over manuscripts and their nights in the company of New York’s literary elite—all in Plimpton’s apartment, which doubled as the office of The Paris Review. “He would always order 38 bottles of Scotch, one bottle of white wine and a bottle of Dubonnet,” recalls an assistant from the 1980’s. “And it was always a struggle to get him to order food.”

Finally, tigers make headlines again. As reported in TP yesterday, Roy Horn—”Roy” of Siegfried and Roy—took a bite on the neck from one his veteran tigers on Friday Night. (His condition is “grim” according to the mayor of Las Vegas, as reported in the LAT.) Now, in a lighter and somewhat more mysterious vein, the NYT reports that New York police subdued a 350-pound Bengal tiger in a Harlem apartment on Saturday. It’s unclear how or why the animal was in the building, or if its name was on the lease, but the downstairs neighbor alerted police after “large amounts of urine” came down through her ceiling. The alleged owner was no longer on the premises.