Today's Papers

Jacko: Off

USA Todayleads with the jury clearing Michael Jackson of all charges. Everybody else has near banners on Michael but looks elsewhere for their leads. The Washington Post leads with and NYT off-leads with the Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling overturning a 20-year-old murder conviction of a Texas death-row inmate. The court ruled that the prosecutors had crossed off potential jurors on the basis of race, a no-no. The Wall Street Journal’s business box and New York Timeslead with the head of Morgan Stanley, who’s faced serious internal attacks, announcing that he’s going to resign ASAP. Philip Purcell probably won’t be shuffling off to the unemployment office. According to the Journal,his goodbye package will be worth at least $62 million. The Los Angeles Timesleads with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger setting a special election for the fall to vote on a series his of government overhaul propositions. Among the proposals: creating new spending caps, handing redistricting powers over to a panel of judges, and lengthening the time it takes teachers to earn tenure.

The Jacko jury deliberated for about 30 hours total. But they were given 98 pages of instructions, and it took them just two votes to reach a consensus. Basically, they didn’t trust the accuser and particularly his mother. “I don’t want to give the impression that this was a slam-dunk deal,” said juror during post-game interviews. “We challenged the issues and we came to the decision that pointed to reasonable doubt.” Slate’s Emily Bazelon explains how the prosecution’s case fell apart; and Seth Stevenson, who covered the trial in person, explains why it’s nothing like the O.J. Simpson trial.

Prosecutors in the now-overturned Texas death-penalty case had tossed out 10 of the 11 black people eligible to sit on the jury. A federal appeals court had essentially OK’d the prosecutors’ moves. “It is a sign of how far the lower federal courts have drifted to the right that the Supreme Court had to correct this racially discriminatory prosecution,” sighs the NYT’s editorial page. As the WSJ emphasizes, the Supremes also ruled 8-1 yesterday in another case that California makes it too hard for defendants to allege racial bias in jury selections.

With two Jackson stories and the accompanying photo taking up a wide swath of Page One, the Post simply teases a whopper: The Pentagon—together with Russia—successfully blocked a NATO call for an independent probe of last month’s massacre in Uzbekistan. Defense officials argued that the U.S. base there is really really handy. Since tensions have risen, Uzbekistan’s leader has restricted access to it. In contrast to the Pentagon, the State Department has repeatedly and publicly called for an independent investigation. Yesterday’s LAT pondered the United State’s “freedom deficit” in Uzbekistan.

As the Journal says up high, four GIs were wounded by a suspected suicide car bomber in Afghanistan. Three other bombs were reportedly found on a road near Kandahar.

About a dozen Iraqis were killed in four suicide car bombings and other attacks. As Knight Ridder notes, a bomb outside the offices of one moderate Sunni group hit about 10 minutes after the U.S. acting ambassador left. Meanwhile, the impasse continued over Sunni demands for (over)representation on the constitution-writing committee.

It’s been a near-consensus among libs and cons that madrasas teach extremism and build future jihadists. It also seems to be wrong. Peter Bergen and Swati Pandey explain in a NYT op-ed:

We examined the educational backgrounds of 75 terrorists behind some of the most significant recent terrorist attacks against Westerners. We found that a majority of them are college-educated. Of the 75, only nine had attended madrassas, and all of those played a role in one attack—the Bali bombing. Even in this instance, however, five college-educated “masterminds”—including two university lecturers—helped to shape the Bali plot.Like the view that poverty drives terrorism—a notion that countless studies have debunked—the idea that madrassas are incubating the next generation of terrorists offers the soothing illusion that desperate, ignorant automatons are attacking us rather than college graduates, as is often the case. While madrassas are an important issue in education and development in the Muslim world, they are not and should not be considered a threat to the United States.