Today's Papers

Bloody Hell

Everyone leads the latest escalation of hostilities in the Israeli-Hezbollah war. Hezbollah launched its deadliest rocket attacks since fighting commenced last month, killing approximately 15 Israelis, three of whom were civilians. Israeli bombs killed about a dozen Lebanese while inflicting further damage on Lebanon’s shattered road system. The attacks came one day after the United States and France sponsored a U.N. draft resolution calling for a cease-fire.

Up to three ball-bearing-packed rockets (the New York Times thinks there was only one) targeting reservists resting at one of Israel’s oldest kibbutzim caused “the most horrific carnage [witnesses] had ever seen,” the NYT reports. The ball bearings were expelled from the rockets in dense and horrific clouds; “Each new rocket attack was punctuated by the screams of peacocks from the kibbutz’s zoo,” notes the Los Angeles Times in a literary flourish. Rockets also hit parts of downtown Haifa, killing and wounding civilians.

The Washington Post stuffs the kibbutz scene, pegging much of its front-page coverage to an unremarkable interview with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Sinoria, who dismisses the current Security Council resolution as “impractical.” The resolution would keep Israeli forces in Lebanon until an international peacekeeping force could be raised—terms deemed unacceptable by Hezbollah, which demands a total Israeli withdrawal before a cease-fire. “All Lebanon, all Lebanese, all the communities of Lebanon reject this draft resolution,” Hezbollah’s contact in the Lebanese parliament said, decisively.

Condoleezza Rice is pressing for quick passage of the resolution, seeing it as an imperfect but necessary step toward re-establishing peace in the region. Its passage will determine “who’s for peace and who isn’t,” Rice said. But does the resolution amount to anything more than gamesmanship when Rice tacitly acknowledges that Hezbollah won’t comply with its terms?

The Post features the best coverage of the scene inside Lebanon, noting that Israeli rockets narrowly missed a U.N. humanitarian convoy and wondering why the IDF was targeting Lebanese soldiers. Haaretz reports that, in a reversal of policy, the IDF plans to “hit strategic civilian infrastructure” in Lebanon. Early dispatches indicate that Israeli jets bombed parts of suburban Beirut.

The NYT profiles charismatic, steadfast Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nazrallah—a political savant and skilled orator who, as one expert said, “built this circus on a foundation of pageantry, lies, fear, crazy hopes and unreal dreams.” Is that why the NYT says he has the “Disney touch”? Another NYT piece says we can thank Syria and Iran for Hezbollah’s formidable arsenal and well-trained militia.

A good USAT piece profiles Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s underground broadcast news network, which, despite blatant propagandizing and a tendency to program numerous “videos set to martial music,” has scooped other media outlets on at least two key stories during the war.

With his senatorial primary tomorrow, everybody notes that a beleaguered Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., tried to explain away his position on the Iraq war in a last-ditch attempt to close the double-digit gap that separates him and challenger Ned Lamont in the latest polls. “I want to get our troops home as fast as anyone, probably more than most,” said Lieberman, who also denied that he was George W. Bush’s “best friend and enabler.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., hopes that a recently released movie about her life will make voters focus on her progressive credentials instead of her penchant for fisticuffs.

The Wall Street Journal stuffs and USAT reefers news that Google and MTV parent Viacom will partner to syndicate video content out to independent Web sites that are part of Google’s ad network. The content will be free but ad-supported. It’s an entirely new revenue model for online video, and an answer to sites like YouTube that often feature pirated content. But don’t count your money too fast, fat cats: An LAT piece says that, despite the proliferation of new media, 12- to 24-year-olds are more bored than ever with their entertainment options. “I feel bored like all the time, ‘cause there is like nothing to do,” said one survey respondent.

The LAT goes inside with a story examining Congress’ inadequacies in understanding and legislating high-tech issues. Primary among these: Its members often don’t understand the intricacies and implications of futuristic devices like computers, or the Internet. But with major telecommunications legislation coming up this year, this legislative Luddism might not turn out to be as funny as Jon Stewart would have you believe.

The Post off-leads news of how federal welfare reform efforts are imposing tighter controls on how states can dole out funds, in an effort to ensure that welfare recipients are working. Revised definitions of “work” may prohibit welfare recipients from attending school or going to drug rehab. “We expected the [rules] to be bad,” said a Washington state welfare official. “They are worse than that.”

Everybody notes the start of the U.S. military hearing into the alleged rape and murder of Iraqi civilians by five GIs in March. The hearing’s outcome will determine whether the soldiers will stand trial. The NYT also reports on a hearing into a May confrontation that left three Iraqi civilians dead at Army hands, one of whom was shot in a so-called mercy killing.

The WP fronts news that the Afghan secular government, under pressure from Islamist groups, is looking to repress its citizens’ access to “imported vices,” such as alcohol, or fun. Shades of the Taliban? Not according to one official: “They used Islam for political purposes. We only want to stop people from committing bad acts.” Well then.

Energy giant BP will temporarily shutter the Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska after inspection revealed corroded pipelines and a small leak, the Journal reports.

Motivated Seller:USAT’s cover story answers the question that we’ve all been dying to ask: Why doesn’t anybody want to buy the house where JonBenét Ramsey was murdered? “Buyers have plenty of reasons to shun such properties,” the article notes, foremost among these presumably being, um, the murder thing.