Today's Papers

Gaza, Stripped

The Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and USA Todayall lead with Gaza, where the army said the evacuation was going faster than expected. According to USAT, 600 of the 1,600 families in settlements are still around. The Washington Postfronts Gaza but leads with three (coordinated?) studies out today concluding, as the Post puts it, that African-Americans still “get far fewer operations, tests, medications and other life-saving treatments than whites.” The WP is largely vague on numbers but says one of the studies—which looked at all Medicare patients over a decade—found that in seven of nine common surgeries, gaps between the percentages of blacks and whites who received the treatments stayed the same or got bigger. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the deadliest day in Iraq in weeks. At least 50 civilians were killed, most of them Shiites targeted in yesterday morning’s triple bombing in Baghdad. The Pentagon also announced the deaths of two GIs; they were killed in separate attacks.

Most of the soldiers in Gaza are unarmed, and there was little violence. But an Israeli in the West Bank shot and killed four Palestinians. Another Israeli is in critical condition after she set herself on fire in protest. Her small settlement is among the few in the West Bank slated for evacuation.

The Israeli army said it should be done in a few days rather than weeks. (Of course, the army has multiple incentives to give the impression of feeble resistance.) The NYT gives a good sense of calibrated drama. Filing from one of the most militant settlements, the paper says “many houses had to be broken into, and their inhabitants carried away. Still, most of those carried screaming onto buses also had their bags packed.” The Post notices that soldiers have yet to move in on two of the largest settlements.

In a front-page piece that has a bit of a forced-nuance feel, the NYT draws out a  little ambivalence from Palestinians, a few of whom identify with being moved from their homes. The WP notices a little less ambivalence at a withdrawal celebration in Gaza hosted by Islamic Jihad. “Our enemy should understand that the state of Palestine is not Gaza,” said a top Islamic Jihad commander. “It’s from the river to the sea.” Israeli police said they disrupted a suicide bombing that had been planned for just north of Gaza; they said they found an already assembled explosives belt.

The NYT interviews Secretary of State Rice. “Everyone empathizes with what the Israelis are facing,” said Rice, who added, “It cannot be Gaza only.” The Times only paraphrases Rice’s follow-up, saying she was referring to “loosening travel restrictions in the West Bank and withdrawing from more Palestinian cities.” And no, at least as of the wee hours the Times hasn’t posted a transcript.

“We have known for 20 years that we have a problem in our health care system: that blacks and whites do not receive equal care,” said one of studies’ researchers. “We had hoped all the attention paid to this topic would result in some improvement. What we found is we have not made much progress.”

Of course, finding a correlation between race and quality of care isn’t the same thing as finding a causallink. In fact, as the Post acknowledges in the 11th paragraph: “The only hint of a cause offered by the new studies was the finding that gains tended to occur for the simplest care—such as prescribing drugs—and gaps tended to widen for more complex treatment.” The Post doesn’t explain what cause that hints at. (An economic one?) Finally, while the top of the story briefly acknowledges some improvements, the paper waits until the penultimate paragraph to explain that in one of the new studies blacks narrowed “the gap with whites on seven of nine measures; on five measures, the difference fell to less than two percentage points.”

The WP goes inside with newly released memos written by near-top State Department officials in pre-invasion 2003 warning of what one memo called—surprise—“serious planning gaps” for postwar Iraq. One memo argued that it was “crucial” for State Department leadership to become “strong advocates” for solid planning. Here are the memos, which the Post doesn’t link to.

In today’s must read, the LAT looks at Pakistani schools that teach anti-Semitism, anti-Christianity, and violent jihad. “If Muslims are being oppressed,” reads one textbook, “then jihad is necessary to free them from this cruel oppression.” The teachings don’t come from madrasas but from Pakistan’s public-school system. “I have been arguing for the longest time that, in fact, our state system is the biggest madrasa,” said one education expert. (This TPer once flagged a World Bank report detailing the problems with the Pakistan’s public schools.)

Thankfully, a new education minister was recently appointed to “reform” the system. A former general who oversaw Pakistan’s intel services back in the days when it was arming the Taliban, he offered the Times the following history lesson: “Palestinians were promised their state. Originally they were the owners of the entire area. OK, Israel was created by the British. And they indulged in terrorism. The Jews were the worst terrorists in the world.”