The New York Times leads with the latest violence in Iraq, where four suicide bombers killed 38 people at an Iraqi army base and Iraqi police posts in Mosul during a 16-hour period (the Post has slightly different numbers). Donald Rumsfeld, speaking on Fox News Sunday, remarked that the insurgency could last a dozen years and the violence will likely increase before Iraqi elections later this year. The Los Angeles Times leads with word that U.S. officials in Iraq have been meeting with insurgent leaders. The Washington Post leads with plans by the Bush administration to freeze the U.S. assets of anyone doing business with several Syrian, North Korean, and Iranian companies thought to be involved in WMD programs. USA Today leads with new research that private health insurance spending on obesity-related illnesses has increased more than tenfold since 1987.
On its front page the WP also trumpets Rumsfeld’s acknowledgement that U.S. forces have been holding meetings with insurgency leaders in Iraq, which the NYT doesn’t think is worth mentioning until paragraph 21 of its lead story. On the morning talk-show circuit, the defense secretary said that “meetings take place all the time.” The CIA and State Department have also been holding secret conferences with insurgents.
The White House action to block assets is said to target eight entities. (The Iranian Atomic Energy Organization is the only one named.) * Though a few have previously been hit by U.S. sanctions, this measure would go further than previous crackdowns because it affects any individual or company—including foreign banks—that do any business with the eight. The measure, summarized in a draft executive order, is apparently modeled on efforts to obstruct al-Qaida’s finances immediately after Sept. 11. The Post gets its info from an internal government memo and unnamed sources.
The NYT fronts government plans to begin manufacturing the first plutonium 238 since the Cold War. During the next 30 years, 330 pounds of the substance—so dangerous that a speck can cause cancer—will be made at the Idaho National Laboratory. Officials wouldn’t elaborate what the material will be used for, other than to say it will aid “national security.”
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) that Iran’s President-Elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defended his country’s “absolute right” to a nuclear program Sunday, saying that “most of the world has recognized this right except a few countries who think they are better than everyone else.” The WP plays the story differently, noting that at the press conference, the newly elected official tried to de-emphasize reports about his hard-line politics (the Post’s headline: “Iran’s President-Elect Calls for Moderation“).
The papers preview the upcoming battle that will certainly ensue over a Supreme Court justice nominee if Chief Justice William Rehnquist announces his retirement (it is expected he may do so this week). The Post mentions interest groups on the left and the right who are digging in for a fight while noting the White House has gathered its key political strategists for a meeting. The NYT examines conservative activists’ plea to avoid picking another justice like Anthony Kennedy. (Slateexamines the potential candidates here.)
In New York Sunday, the Rev. Billy Graham completed what he said would be his last American crusade, warning that the end of his life—along with the end of the world—was near.
The papers bury Reuters and AP reports that a special U.N. envoy arrived in Zimbabwe Sunday to investigate the government-sponsored campaign that has pushed hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans from their homes. The bulldozing of urban shacks, which began May 19, continued over the weekend.
Middle Earth meets Middle East
Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings series, is suing New Line Cinema, the subsidiary of Time Warner that financed and distributed the trilogy. Jackson claims that he may have been underpaid as much as $100 million. A New Line lawyer had this to say: ” … there’s a certain piggishness involved here. New Line already gave him enough money to rebuild Baghdad, but it’s still not enough for him.”
* Correction, June 29, 2005: This article originally and incorrectly claimed that the Washington Post didn’t name any of the eight entities in question. The Post piece named the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization. Click here to return to the corrected sentence.