Today's Papers

Stripping Geneva

The Los Angeles Timesleads with revelations that the Pentagon will leave out the clause of the Geneva Conventions that bans “humiliating and degrading treatment” from its new detainee policies. The decision is not final, and it’s facing strong opposition from the State Department, but it forms part of a broader effort by the Pentagon to rewrite its policies on how detainees can be treated. The Washington Post leads with word that three years after federal protections on private medical information were instituted, the Bush administration has not imposed any civil fines and has prosecuted only two criminal cases. USA Todayleads with the lawsuits that have been filed in at least six states to block the use of electronic voting machines. Advocacy groups claim the machines are unreliable. The New York Timesleads with questions surrounding why most of the Ground Zero cleanup crew did not wear masks or respirators, which seems to have exposed them to toxic fumes. Even though some say that masks were shipped to the site, most agree that they were not worn, or, at the very least, they were not worn properly. There appear to be several reasons for this, including a lack of training on how to wear the devices, as well as the intense heat and the apparent unwillingness of rescue crews to worry about their personal health during such a tragic time.  

The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with Iran’s president stating that his government will seriously look into whatever incentives package will be delivered by European envoys. At the same time, Iran’s supreme religious leader warned the United States on Sunday that Iran would respond to any “wrong move” by disrupting oil shipments. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discounted the threat by saying that “we’re going to give the diplomacy a little time here.”

The Pentagon has been working on new detainee policies for more than a year that it intends to include in a new Army Field Manual on interrogation. This new manual was supposed to be released in April but has been delayed due to objections from senators who are concerned that it could conflict with an anti-torture law passed last year.

Although there have been 19,420 complaints so far, mostly about the unnecessary revelation of private medical details, the administration has chosen to go with the philosophy of “voluntary compliance,” giving violators a chance to fix wrongdoings. Not surprisingly, hospitals, insurance companies, and doctors are happy with the arrangement, particularly because they say the rules are new and complicated. Patient-advocacy groups, on the other hand, say that the lack of fines sends the message that there is nothing to fear if the law is broken.

The NYT fronts word that at least six of the 17 people who were arrested in Canada for plotting to carry our terrorist attacks attended the same mosque in Toronto, where the oldest member of the group frequently gave “fiery speeches.” The Post story focuses on the expected backlash toward the Muslim community in Canada, where a mosque has already been vandalized. The NYT mentions that some in the community are skeptical of the charges levied against the men, particularly since very little information regarding the alleged plots has been released. The LAT says the arrests were part of a multinational effort, and officials are now looking into possible connections between those who were arrested and at least 18 militants who are being held in at least six other countries.

The WP fronts the differing accounts that surround the killing of Hashim Ibrahim Awad al-Zobaie in the Iraqi village of Hamdaniyah. Even though the U.S. Marines who shot Hashim say he was digging a hole to plant a bomb near his house, those in the village say he was dragged from his home and shot four times in the face. They also claim that the Marines planted a shovel and an AK-47 next to the body. According to his family, U.S. servicemen offered them money if they admitted that Hashim was an insurgent. Knight Ridder published an interview with the man’s family on Friday, who said Marines had approached Hashim several times asking him to become an informant.

Everybody mentions that it was another violent day in Iraq as gunmen set up a fake checkpoint and stopped minibuses (the WP says three,the NYT two), filled mostly with high-school and college students traveling to Baquba. The gunmen spared the Sunni Muslim men and shot at least 19 people. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki once again was unable to announce appointees for three Cabinet positions because of internal disagreement among party leaders. 

The NYT goes inside with news that a suicide bomber killed four people in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and narrowly missed hitting the province’s governor as well as a Canadian military convoy. USAT notes that the NATO units coming into southern Afghanistan to replace American troops will not focus on hunting members of the Taliban. Instead, the goal of these NATO forces is to protect reconstruction projects while trying to win support from the local population.

In a Page One story, the Post details how Rep. William J. Jefferson, D-La., allegedly created several businesses that involved family members to funnel payments from firms that wanted the politician to promote their projects in Africa. The FBI raided the congressman’s office last month, and, so far, Jefferson has denied any wrongdoing.

The LAT notes that several veterans from the political scene announced an Internet campaign last week, called Unity08, to nominate a third-party candidate for the 2008 presidential election. They are hoping they can be more successful than previous third-party attempts because of the high degree of dissatisfaction with the major parties, as well as the increasing role of the Internet in campaign politics.

Twenty-five years after the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, the LAT says that progress in battling the disease has “slowed to a crawl.” Even though the first few years of the virus led to some fast-paced discoveries, there has been nothing truly big to celebrate for almost 10 years, when the drug cocktails were first introduced. The creation of a cure or vaccine, which many who worked in the early stages of the disease thought would have been discovered by now, is not close to becoming a reality.

All the papers mention that former President Alan García beat Ollanta Humala in Peru’s runoff election. During his last presidency, which ended 16 years ago, García led Peru into an economic collapse, but he was able to gain approximately 55 percent of Sunday’s vote. Some analysts believe voters elected García more as a rejection of Humala rather than as an endorsement of the former president.

Dream With the (Jelly) FishesThe WP fronts a look into the $30-billion-a-year “healing industry” in Japan, which seeks mainly to relieve people of their daily stress. Changing Japanese society, coupled with an economic recovery, has led to a flourishing of businesses that seek to help people relax. Besides the usual forms of relaxation such as massages or aromatherapy, there are also some more unusual methods like pet rentals and overnight stays at an aquarium, where participants can fall asleep to the glow of swimming jellyfish.