Today's Papers

China Wary

The New York Timesleads with the European Union backing away from ending its arms embargo to China. The rowback comes amid U.S. pressure and China’s tough talk to Taiwan. The Times notices that British Prime Minister Tony Blair is set to take the rotating EU presidency this summer and apparently isn’t thrilled about the prospect of jousting with the U.S. The Wall Street Journal says it’s all mostly symbolism anyway. The embargo is so loose that individual European countries already sell China plenty of hardware. The Journal’s world-wide newsbox and Los Angeles Timeslead with the Terri Schiavo case heading to federal court, where a judge wasn’t sympathetic to arguments from her parent’s lawyers that Schiavo’s rights have been violated. “You’d be hard pressed to convince me,” he said. USA Today and the Washington Postlead with 10 people killed and about a dozen wounded after a teenager in Minnesota killed his grandparents then opened fire at his high school. The gunman went room-to-room firing at students and teachers then shot himself.

A Page One Post piecehas a bushel of legal analysts saying the chances of Schiavo’s parents prevailing in court are essentially nil. Meanwhile, doctors give that same assessment about Schiavo’s condition. “The chances of her waking up or benefiting from treatment are zero,” said one neurologist who examined her. Electrical readings of her cerebral cortex, where thinking happens, “are flat.”

The LAT and WP both quote experts saying Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D., was out of his league and out of line when he said Schiavo might not really be in a persistent vegetative state.“Tomorrow I will do a transplant surgery if [Frist] starts doing neurology,” said one neurologist. “He has no clue.”

According to a Page One Post piece, the EPA, which just announced relatively loose mercury rules, cold-shouldered a study that showed stricter rules would have been far more beneficial than the agency’s estimates. Though the study was funded by the EPA and peer-reviewed, it somehow never made it into the agency’s public analyses.

Still filing from outside Kyrgyzstan, the papers say protests against bogus elections are gaining momentum and now reportedly have the support of the police in Kyrgyzstan’s second-largest city. “It looks more and more like a revolution,” said one local election observer.

Everybody mentions Israel announcing that it’s giving Palestinian forces control of Tulkarm, a town near the Green Line that long been a center for militants. Israel also said it’s expanding the largest settlement in the West Bank, adding 3,500 homes, a move that seems to violate the U.S. “roadmap.”

Seven Iraqis were killed—four women and three children—by a roadside bomb southeast of Baghdad. The military also announced that one Marine was killed Sunday and one yesterday.

USAT fronts the Army, hurting for soldiers, raising the maximum age for National Guard and Reserve recruits from 34 to 39. USAT quotes one analyst saying the old (younger) max was antiquated, created for a time when hand-to-hand combat was still a top consideration.  

The WP fronts Chief Justice Rehnquist’s return to the bench, looking far more engaged than he did during President Bush’s swear-in. 

The papers go inside with another instance of the government’s enthusiastic wielding of whiteout. After being harassed by Sen. Carl Levin, the administration released some previously heavily censored Gitmo documents, showing that visiting FBI agents considered some interrogations to be not just abusive but resulting in information that was “suspect at best.” That quote, among others, had been redacted in the version of the docs given to the ACLU last year. “As I suspected,” said Levin, “the previously withheld information had nothing to do with protecting intelligence sources or methods, and everything to do with protecting [the Defense Department] from embarrassment.”

The Journal, following a recent piece in Slate,looks at the administration’s penchant for withholding information that’s not classified but still deemed “sensitive.” Take the testimony of a FAA official at the 9/11 hearings last year. Among the comments the official uttered and later blacked-out by our ever vigilant government: “We are hearing this, this, this, this and this.”