Today's Papers

Independence Day Blast

The New York Times leads with Pentagon leaders debating whether the military should change its long-standing strategy that requires it to be ready to fight two wars at the same time. Some believe this would give the military more flexibility to aid in protecting the homeland and battle terrorism. The Washington Post leads with China criticizing the U.S. Congress for taking steps to prevent the Chinese company Cnooc Ltd. from taking over the American oil company Unocal Corp. USA Today leads with a phone interview with President Bush, the first time he answered questions about the Supreme Court since Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s resignation. The president didn’t reveal any new information (USAT also publishes excerpts from the interview) as to who he is looking at, merely stating that it’s “a diverse group of citizens” and asked special interest groups to “tone down the heated rhetoric.” He also went on to defend Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, saying he doesn’t like it “when a friend gets attacked” and emphasized: “Al Gonzales is a great friend.” The Los Angeles Times leads with President Bush saying in a TV interview that he will not change his position on global warming to thank British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his support in the Iraq war. “I really don’t view our relationship as one of quid pro quo,” Bush said. While he still emphasized anything that is similar to the Kyoto Protocol will be rejected, he did say there were other compromises that could be reached and acknowledged that humans are at least partly responsible for climate change. The WSJ plays catch-up on O’Connor’s resignation and says the first step in the nomination process will be a fight within the conservative movement. While Evangelical Christians want someone very different from O’Connor, business leaders saw her as an ally and are also lobbying to get their opinions heard.

The debate over changes at the Pentagon is part of a complete review of the agency ordered by Congress every four years and is scheduled to be released early next year. It is rare for the agency to be debating the principle of the two-war strategy, but some think the military could better use its resources to fight terrorism by focusing on a smaller, more agile force. Officials say future wars are likely to be against insurgents and guerrillas and they are trying to adapt to this change while recognizing that there simply might not be enough troops to fight two separate wars simultaneously.

The Chinese government said the bid to take over Unocal is an economic deal and should not be politicized. Currently, Chevron Corp. has a bid in to buy Unocal for $16.5 billion, but Cnooc has offered $18.5 billion, which would make it the largest foreign takeover by a Chinese firm. The WSJ reports that many are surprised by the strong criticism issued by members of Congress. “It’s a freebie for every congressman to pile on China,” a source tells the Journal. Meanwhile, the NYT notes in its business pages that Chevron has to strike a balance between criticizing the Chinese proposal while not alienating a partner. Cnooc and Chevron have a $35 billion business partnership to transport liquefied natural gas. The LAT looks into the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, “a secretive, little known-panel” that decides on whether U.S. businesses can be purchased by foreign companies. The panel, which is so secretive it can’t even acknowledge when an investigation is taking place, is chaired by the treasury secretary and includes the secretaries from several other departments.

All the papers front NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft perfectly colliding at 26,000 mph with a comet 83 million miles from Earth. The first mission designed to intercept a comet in order to see what lies inside was launched in January, and it took six months for the spacecraft to reach the comet. Before the impact, a part of the spacecraft detached itself and was able to take pictures of the blast from a safe distance. All members of the NASA team are happy with the results, saying the $333 million mission went exactly as planned. As a result of the impact, NASA will be able to study a comet like never before, which they hope will give clues to the origins of the solar system. Scientists also expressed the need to know more about comets because of the risk that some day one of them may hit Earth, and knowing more about them may help to defend the planet.  

The NYT goes inside with the news that American troops recovered the bodies of two out of the four Navy Seal team members who were reported missing in Afghanistan last week. One of the team members was found alive on Saturday and was rescued. Meanwhile, the governor of Afghanistan’s Kunar Province said that one of the members of the team is alive and being taken care of by Afghan villagers, but U.S. officials deny this. The WP and LAT, who do not seem to have U.S. confirmation on the two bodies recently recovered, go high in their Afghanistan stories with the announcement by the same governor that a U.S. airstrike on Friday had killed 17 civilians. The U.S. military said it regretted the civilian deaths but also said that it attacked a known terrorist base and blamed the enemy for moving their families to these high-risk places.

The NYT mentions that while most of the White House staff took off for the holiday weekend, interest groups had a busy weekend preparing for the fight over who will replace O’Connor. Liberal groups say they will release their first television ads this week. The WP notes that many are predicting the fight over the next supreme court justice will be the most expensive nomination in the country’s history, with groups slated to spend at least $50 million and as much as $100 million, if the nominee is particularly controversial. The Post goes on to say that most of the groups involved in the fight are exempt from disclosure requirements, so there will be little public reporting on the money raised for the campaign.

The WSJ fronts a study that apparently found male circumcision reduces the risk that men will contract HIV from an infected woman by 70 percent. The study itself was never concluded because results were so strong that organizers said it would have been immoral to continue without giving the uncircumcised group the chance to have a circumcision. The results have never been published so most are unwilling to discuss it, but the researcher who led the study is expected to present the findings at an AIDS conference later this month. Although previous studies have suggested a link between circumcision and HIV infection, this was the first study using the most rigorous methods of a randomized, controlled clinical trial.

“Straight, gay or lying” … The NYT reefers a study that seems to confirm what many have always believed: There is no such thing as male bisexuality. In the study, psychologists measured how men, who described themselves as gay, bisexual, or heterosexual, responded to erotic movies. Three-quarters of the bisexuals were aroused in the same pattern as the gay men, while the rest showed similar patterns to the heterosexuals. Some caution against reading much into the study saying that too little is known about sexual orientation to reach any kind of conclusion.