Today's Papers

Full Court Press

Everybody leads with the Senate, and the House just past midnight, passing a bill allowing the Terri Schiavo case to move to federal court. Interrupting his vacation in Texas, President Bush flew back to the Washington, and signed the legislation early this morning. Two hours later, lawyers for Schiavo’s parents appealed to a federal court for an injunction against a state court’s ruling that approved the removal of Schiavo’s feeding tube.

The bill that passed only applies to Schiavo. The House’s original version, objected to by the Senate, opened federal courts to the relevant cases of all “incapacitated persons.”

The New York Timespoints out that Bush’s trip, helpful in the symbolism department, was little more than that. The president could have signed the bill from Texas (if, apparently, it had been flown out there). The Times says this is the first time Bush has broken from vacation to head back to the office.

USA Todayhas a helpful backgrounder on persistent vegetative states. In order to make that diagnosis, said one top doc, “there really has to be zero evidence of any responsiveness that suggests awareness.”  As for the infamous videos, doctors said they are reflex reactions, which happen because the brain-stem still works. (Here’s a blog post delving into the medical specifics of Schiavo’s case.)

The NYT’s John Burns visits Baghdad’s Haifa Street, or what GIs call Purple Heart Boulevard, and sees things getting a bit better, aided by a few million dollars in reconstruction money and an apparently reliable Iraqi unit garrisoned along the street. The last bit of the 2,200-word piece offers a slight wrinkle: The celebrated Iraqi unit is mostly Shiite as are most neighbors who are offering tips. And the Sunni neighborhoods are a different story. Fresh graffiti there wraps up the sentiment: “Death to the Americans!” and “Victory to the mujahedeen!”

A Los Angeles Timespiece on training of Iraqi forces notices that officials “refuse to provide ethnic breakdowns of the new army’s makeup.”

In Iraq yesterday, insurgents launched what the NYT calls the largest ambush against U.S. forces since the elections. Seven GIs were wounded in the fight near Baghdad, while the military said 24 insurgents were killed. Another GI was killed in an attack in Kirkuk. And a top Iraqi anticorruption official and two others were killed by a suicide bomber in Mosul who somehow got into the official’s office. Then two people were killed when guerrillas fired on his funeral procession.

A frontpage Washington Postpiece looks at the evidence that back as ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s intel czar nominee John Negroponte buried info about death squads. In a bit of limp-wristed writing, the Post says up top, “Opinions differ sharply over Negroponte,” with “critics” seeing him as “a symbol of what they consider a dark chapter in American history.” Twenty-four paragraphs later, the WP unveils one of those nattering nabobs of negativity: the CIA. Though disputed by some former embassy workers, an Agency report described Negroponte as having “suppressed” info about death squads.

The Wall Street Journal, LAT, and the Post with a wire piece, all pick up on the latest in Kyrgyzstan, where citizens protesting the apparently rigged elections have now torched a few government buildings. As the WSJ notes, Kyrgyzstan is one of the strategically located ‘stans, and home to some U.S. bases.

Following the WP, and the LAT before that, the NYT waddles in with word that U.N. chief Kofi Annan will announce proposals today to expand the Security Council and keep nasty governments off the Human Rights Commission.

Say, tell us what you really think…  The NYT notices the White House’s choice of 31-year-old Egyptian-American Dina Powell as its new face for public diplomacy. “You can see people really taken by surprise when this young, attractive, really well-spoken person in both English and Arabic makes a presentation on behalf of the president,” said budget director Josh Bolten. Chief of staff Andy Card was even more enthusiastic: “She is extremely attractive, very competent, well spoken, young, she’s got quiet confidence and she is task-oriented. In other words, she gets the job done.”