Today's Papers

School Race Over?

The New York Timesand Los Angeles Timeslead with the Supreme Court deciding to rule on whether school districts can consider race when placing students. The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal’sbusiness box, and USA Today all lead with Fed Chief Ben Bernanke spooking the markets with what the Journal labels his “surprisingly frank inflation warning.”

The LAT puts the Supreme Court’s decision in the starkest terms, saying the cases—there are two—could ultimately “spell the end of official efforts to maintain racial integration in U.S. public schools.” Three years ago, the court ruled in favor of allowing universities to consider race in admissions. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote that decision. This past December, when O’Connor was still on the court, the justices declined to hear just the kind of challenge that the court has now taken up.

Yesterday’s announcement is “bad news for desegregation advocates,” said one law prof. “It looks like the more conservative justices see they have a fifth vote to reverse these cases.”

The LAT and WP front—and the NYT mentions in passing—what appear to have been Iraqi government commandos bursting into a few travel agencies and kidnapping about 50 customers and workers in Baghdad. “Those are criminals going after the ransom,” said one shop manager. “They will see who is important or rich, and who is not, after interrogating them.”

The action happened about a mile from the Green Zone and “within sight of Iraq’s Ministry of Justice.” According to the Post, one witness recalled a police car driving up to the scene “only to be driven off by gunfire and shouted warnings from the kidnappers that they were from the Interior Ministry’s intelligence section.”

The LAT’s Iraq piece mentions a remarkable stat: “More people were shot, stabbed or killed in other violence in May than in any other month since the invasion, according to statistics tallied by the Ministry of Health. … Last month alone, 1,398 bodies were brought to Baghdad’s central morgue.” That doesn’t include soldiers killed or bombing victims. (The LAT first reported the stat over the weekend—but buried it inside.)

The Journal has a fascinating piece inside with military officials saying GIs at checkpoints and in convoys are only mistakenly shooting one Iraqi per week, down from seven a week a year ago. (The military is reportedly patrolling less nowadays. So, has the “per checkpoint” rate been reduced that much?) In any case, as the WSJ notes, the numbers suggest that “hundreds of Iraqi civilians” have been killed in such encounters. Military officials added that they didn’t start tracking casualties from such shootings until last July. Activist Marla Ruzicka, who had been pushing for a civilian casualty count, was killed that April, and her efforts subsequently became well-known. (This TPer also argued a month later, in May, that the military would itself benefit from improving checkpoint tactics and tracking civilian causalities.)

The NYT fronts a bit of detail about the incentives the U.S. and Europe are offering Iran. Among the sweeteners to stop Tehran’s drive for nukes: aircraft parts from Boeing. Iranian planes are notoriously unsafe, partly because replacement parts are so hard to come by.

The WP fronts a study from a watchdog group showing that House and Senate members accepted about $50 million worth of privately funded trips in the last five years. The NYT notices that aides actually made most of the trips: “Among the most popular destinations: Paris (at least 200 times), Hawaii (150) and Italy (140).”

The NYT, alone, fronts an Islamic militia taking over Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, and routing U.S.-backed warlords. The fear, by the administration and others, is that there will now be a Taliban-like government in Somalia. An expert at the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service says the administration has it all wrong: “Somalis are secular Muslims, and the presence of the so-called Islamists is not an introduction of new ideology or religion.”

The WP mentions that the Pentagon has put out an opaque and misleading report concluding that Iraqis are optimistic that the new government will improve things. Except, as the Post notes, the report includes “no explanation of who was polled and how.” It also has similar numbers to a previous version of the report from December, before violence spiked and the Iraqi government took months to form.

It’s a good article and takes seriously the idea of trying to convey a sense of reality. Which is more than you can say for the headline: “IRAQIS BELIEVE VIOLENCE WILL ABATE, NEW REPORT SAYS;Pentagon Finds Hope Is Tied to New Government.”