Everybody leads with the Fed raising its key interest rate a quarter-point, the first increase in four years. As one analyst in the Wall Street Journal put it, the move was about as surprising as buying a “tie for Father’s Day.” The Fed also reiterated that it’s not stressing about inflation and that rate hikes will probably come at a “measured” pace. Not everyone is feeling so mellow. The New York Times: “AS GREENSPAN CHASES INFLATION, CRITICS SHOUT, ‘FASTER!’ ” Said one analyst, “We believe that inflation has returned. And the cause of it has been an overexpansive monetary policy for almost 10 years.”
Most of the papers front the Israeli Supreme Court’s ruling ordering the removal of a portion of the security barrier in the West Bank and the rerouting of a few other planned spans. The court said that Israel has a right to build the barrier and even to expropriate Palestinian land in the process, but it also “has a legal duty to balance properly between security considerations and humanitarian ones.” The planned portion threatened to cut off a few Palestinian towns from their residents’ farmland. As the Los Angeles Timesemphasizes, that’s not unique, and the court might rule against other sections, too.
In Iraq, where Saddam is set to be arraigned today, 11 GIs were injured in a mortar attack on a base near Baghdad. And according to wire reports, the military launched another airstrike in Fallujah against what it said was a safe-house for terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s network. The U.S. has more than doubled its reward offer for Zarqawi’s capture, to $25 million. (TP recently argued in Slate that the United States’ focus on Zarqawi is probably misplaced and counterproductive.)
The Washington Postlooks at the second-class contractors in Iraq. From Third World countries, they still work for the big companies but have been hired through layers of subcontractors and usually get a fraction of the pay, benefits, and sometimes security of Western workers. One group of Indians who worked for Halliburton recalled being tricked into going to Iraq and then not being given flak jackets or sufficient food. “I cursed my fate,” said one former worker, “not having a feeling my life was secure, knowing I could not go back, and being treated like a kind of animal.”
Everybody goes inside with an Army study showing that 1 in 6 returning soldiers from Iraq suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental health problems. That’s a higher number than from the first Gulf War but lower than in Vietnam. The figure is expected to climb as time passes.
A Page One LAT piece uncovers internal Pentagon reports going back a decade that criticize the military for not weeding criminals out of the service and for accepting recruits with arrest records. One 1995 report found that 25 percent of the Army’s career soldiers had committed crimes while on active duty.
The NYT and WP front Secretary of State Powell’s visit to Sudan, where he met briefly with refugees in Darfur and said he’s going to push the Sudanese government to act or, actually, to stop acting. More than a million people have been expelled from their homes by Arab militias who are operating with the tacit support of Sudan’s government, though that government denies it. The NYT adds that Sudanese soldiers opened fire on university students in Khartoum who tried to give visiting U.N. chief Kofi Annan a petition denouncing the government’s (in-)action in Darfur. At least five students were wounded.
A front-page piece in the Journal says that despite much-hyped international initiatives to expand AIDS treatment—announced by the U.S., Europe, and the U.N.—just 7 percent of AIDS patients in the developing world are getting the drugs they need.
Everybody mentions inside that two bombs exploded in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, killing one civilian and wounding 27. Also, an Australian journalist and her Afghan translator are missing and feared kidnapped.
From the NYT’s correction box:
An article yesterday about Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, the American marine held by kidnappers in Iraq, quoted incompletely from a comment by a cousin of his in Salt Lake City about speculation that the corporal might have deserted. The cousin, Tarek Hassoun, said of a conversation two months ago with Corporal Hassoun: “He said a lot of soldiers, they don’t want to die, especially when they see someone dying in front of them.” When the report from Salt Lake City was added to the Baghdad article, this further comment from Tarek Hassoun was omitted: “But I’m sure he didn’t run away.”
That only leaves one small bit of context out: The article’s sole focus was Hassoun’s purported desertion.