Today's Papers

Nukes of Hazard

The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and USA Todayall lead with North Korea saying it has indeed “manufactured nukes for self defense” and frankly doesn’t feel like sitting down and talking with anybody about it. The U.S. and other countries played down the announcement. “It’s rhetoric we’ve heard before,” said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. A “senior diplomat” from one of the countries in on the now not-going-to-happen negotiations told the LAT the nonchalant response is an effort “not to make the North Koreans enjoy our panic.”

The New York Timesfronts the nukes talk but leads with the Senate approving, 72 to 26, a bill that will likely curb class-action lawsuits. The legislation mandates that many suits head from state to federal courts, which are more likely to toss them out. (As the Times explains, that’s because, based on precedent, judges usually don’t consider cases involving varying laws of different states.) The House has passed similar legislation before and plans on giving a quick OK to this one. In addition to trial lawyers, the NYT says the legislation is opposed by “civil rights organizations, labor groups, consumer organizations, many state prosecutors, and environmental groups.” Meanwhile, supporters of the bill, including some Democrats, say it will stop lawyers from venue shopping cases between state courts. The Times quotes a number of law profs, some of whom guess that federal judges will toss out precedent and keep the cases. What the paper doesn’t do is quote any of the bill’s Democratic supporters. They went against their party leadership. So, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to hear their reasoning?

With the White House still split about how to deal with Pyongyang, the NYT guesses the latest announcement will bolster those who want to cut off North Korea even further in the hopes that the government will fall. A sharp-elbowed analysis inside the Post says Pyongyang is basically trying to get the Bush administration to pump up the “relatively minor upfront concessions” it’s offered. And if that doesn’t happen, the Dear Leader is betting that Bush will blink. He’s got good odds, suggests the Post: “Every time a red line appears to have been drawn, North Korea has crossed it without penalty.”

Everybody mentions Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas firing a handful of top security officers after militants shelled a settlement in Gaza. Abbas’ moves, as the NYT puts it, were in “sharp contrast” to those of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat. Hamas called the barrage retaliation for the recent deaths of two Palestinians. The LAT calls it “muscle-flexing.”

In Iraq yesterday, an attack by insurgents just south of Baghdad resulted in a two-hour firefight that left six police officers dead and another 20 wounded. No guerrillas appear to have been killed. Many Iraqis now avoid the roads in that area, which the Post says often have “checkpoints manned by insurgents.”

The NYT notices inside that the 9/11 commission is calling for the White House to release the classified version of the group’s report. As it stands now, the classified version is filled with whiteout.

The Post and NYT front a jury convicting attorney Lynne Stewart of aiding terrorists by smuggling messages out for one her clients, the blind cleric Omar Abdel Rahman, who was convicting of conspiring to attack New York landmarks in the 1990s.

The NYT’s Floyd Norris, writing on the business pages, notices that for all the thrashing meted out to Bush’s budget, the president has framed the issue just as he wants it—all about spending. Says Norris, “The tax side of the budget, which the administration calculates would cost $1.4 trillion from 2006 through 2015, has been virtually ignored.” Just keeping the estate tax, scheduled to be zilch in 2010 and back in full in 2011, would save about $250 billion. “That would also remove the incentive for assisted suicide in 2010.”

Finally, TP understands its love of US WeeklyFrom the WSJ:

In a study titled “Monkeys Pay Per View,” neuroscientists at Duke University discovered that rhesus monkeys will give up a portion of hard-earned perks for a peek at pictures of the dominant leaders and nubile females in their troop. But they won’t pony up to look at faces of subordinate simians.”People are willing to pay money to look at pictures of high-ranking human primates. When you fork out $3” for a celebrity magazine, [said one researcher], “you’re doing exactly what the monkeys are doing.”