Today's Papers

Amman Attacks

The Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Washington Postalllead with the coordinated attacks on Western hotels in Amman, Jordan; about 65 people were killed and about 150 wounded. (CNN has the latest figures.) USA Today fronts the bombings but leads with oil execs getting hauled in for congressional hearings about the industry’s recent fat profits. “Most consumers find [fuel prices] terribly unfair,” said Sen. Byron Dorgan. “Talk is cheap.” Indeed it is. The NYT notes, “Industry analysts expect little further action from Congress.” 

Most of the Amman casualties apparently happened at a wedding party at the Radisson that was attended by “Jordanian notables.” A Park Hyatt and Days Inn were also hit. The papers most quote Jordanian officials saying two of the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers. Of course, early details are often wrong, and the Post notes that “police at the scene said a rigged device had been planted in at least one of the hotels.”

No group has claimed responsibility but the focus is understandably on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He grew up in Jordan and has a long history of going after the Hashemite kingdom. In fact, he’s alleged to have targeted Amman hotels, including the Radisson, back on New Year’s Eve 1999 in a plot that was foiled. (TP also once profiled Zarqawi’s rise—and the U.S.’s response.)

“Abu Musab wants to widen the conflict” outside of Iraq, one Jordanian official told the Wall Street Journal. “He wants to re-establish his presence in Jordan. He wants to raise morale.”

The “morale” reference is particularly intriguing given two other trends. According to a recent Pew poll—that TP doesn’t see cited in the papers—60 percent of Jordanians have “confidence in Osama Bin Laden.” A slight majority also support “violence against civilian targets.” Unlike in other Muslim countries, those numbers have actually risen in the past few years.

Meanwhile, Knight Ridder says infighting is increasing in Iraq between Zarqawi jihadists and local Sunni insurgents. There was a gunfight between insurgent groups in Ramadi recently. “What we have now is a very severe split,” said one resident. “Open warfare isn’t far behind.” It’s worth knowing that the story was filed from Ramadi. And the military seemed to know nothing about the infighting.

About a dozen Iraqis were killed in bombings, and, as the NYT emphasizes, the military acknowledged it inadvertently killed some civilians during its recent offensive in western Iraq.

The NYT says on Page One that the U.S. and European allies agreed on a last, best offer to Iran: Iran would be allowed to have some nuclear development, but any enrichment would have to happen in Russia. If Iran balks, as expected, then sanctions could be on the table.

The Journal goes high with a poll that has no good news for President Bush. He clocks in at a 38 percent approval rating, with just 33 percent considering him “honest and straightforward.”

Everybody mentions that House Republican leaders, under pressure from members of their own party, agreed to drop a final push for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The WP off-leads a study concluding that tests can pick up Down Syndrome much earlier in pregnancies than previously thought, often just 11 weeks after conception. 

Everybody mentions that Times reporter Judith Miller, as her former boss so artfully put it, “retired” from the paper yesterday. As part of the good-bye and good-riddance deal, the NYT runs a “letter to the editor” by Miller.And if you’re wondering about the definition of “retire,” the NYT says a spokeswoman for the paper explained “it had been made clear to Ms. Miller that she would not be able to continue as a reporter of any kind” at the Times.

After no doubt sifting through hours and hours of research, the NYT’s David Brooks fingers what’s fueling the riots in France: gansta rap.

One of the striking things about the scenes from France is how thoroughly the rioters have assimilated hip-hop and rap culture. It’s not only that they use the same hand gestures as American rappers, wear the same clothes and necklaces, play the same video games, and sit with the same sorts of car stereos at full blast. It’s that they seem to have adopted the same poses of exaggerated manhood, the same attitudes about women, money and the police. They seem to have replicated the same sort of gang culture, the same romantic visions of gunslinging drug dealers.

Among those immersed in rap culture who Brooks might want to chat up, Disiz. A big French rapper, he’s from the projects and got all gangsta the other day, telling a newspaper, “I would like to say to these young people to stop the violence, stop the burning of cars, schools—it is us this hurts.”