Today's Papers

Weather Report

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times lead news that a panel of eminent climate change experts offered “a near-apocalyptic vision of Earth’s future” in a report on global warming that was released Friday. The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal ignore the environmental doomsaying and lead the resignation of Monica Goodling, one of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ top aides. Goodling had been a key figure in the recent U.S. attorney firing scandal.

In its 1,572-page report, the United Nations panel predicted widespread drought in many warm-weather climates and flooding in Asia, with the brunt of the devastation being borne by the world’s poorest citizens. “Don’t be poor in a hot country, don’t live in hurricane alley, watch out about being on the coasts or in the Arctic, and it’s a bad idea to be on a high mountain,” was one scientist’s synopsis of the panel’s findings.

The report also noted that many effects of global warming are already being felt. “This is empirical information on the ground,” said the panel’s co-chair. The LAT story plays up the politics behind the report’s production, emphasizing that some delegates from industrialized nations lobbied to soft-pedal some of the report’s conclusions.

Leave it to the WSJ to explain how capitalism might—just might—save the planet. It profiles a multimillionaire Swedish conservationist whose apparently altruistic purchase of 700,000 acres of Brazilian forest has caused some to accuse him of “green colonialism.” (He calls the ecosystem “a big loss-making carbon enterprise.”)

Monica Goodling, Gonzales’ senior counselor, had declined to testify regarding the disputed firings of eight U.S. attorneys, a stance that embarrassed many Justice Department officials, the NYT says, reefering the story. Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, three top aides to the U.S. attorney there have resigned their positions, apparently in protest of her “ideologically driven and dictatorial managerial style,” the NYT notes.

The Post and the NYT off-lead news that the British sailors who were held by Iran feared for their lives and claimed to have been coerced into admitting that they had entered Iranian waters. Although the mariners were unharmed upon their Thursday release, their time in captivity included some rough sailing: blindfolds, isolation, intimidation. The Iranian government maintains its claim that the Britons violated sovereign waters. An oddly silly photo, reminiscent of a publicity still from a bad Broadway musical, tops the NYT piece.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, approximately 30 people, including several children, were killed in Iraq yesterday when a truck filled with chlorine gas exploded in Ramadi, everyone reports.

The WSJ tops its rightmost column with news that a federal court Friday ordered the beleaguered Internet phone service provider Vonage to stop enrolling new customers. Accused of infringing upon patents held by Verizon and others, Vonage has been hemorrhaging money and subscribers. After an immediate appeal, a higher court has issued a stay on the original ruling. “It’s the difference of cutting off oxygen as opposed to the bullet in the head,” said a Vonage lawyer.

The LAT goes below the fold with news of the wave of kidnappings that has rocked Afghanistan in recent weeks, apparently precipitated by last month’s release of five Taliban prisoners in exchange for an Italian journalist. Approximately 15 civilians have been abducted during the last two weeks. Afghan President Hamid Karzai vows that his prisoner exchanging days are done.

With the wheels coming off the Straight Talk Express, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has decided that the best way to re-energize his presidential campaign is to embrace the Iraq war as a conflict that can and must be won, the Post reports. McCain will unveil this new tactic in an interview tomorrow and in a speech next week. “He’s giving it to ‘em straight,” said one decidedly on-message supporter.

In other campaign news, the LAT fronts news that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is calling on feminists to support her presidential bid. “Now is the time to break the biggest glass ceiling in the land,” said Clinton. She’ll make no fans at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele with that kind of talk.

Hundreds of thousands of malnourished Zambians are caught in the middle of a U.S. domestic power play, the NYT reports. With existing rations running short, the U.N. World Food Program is asking for cash donations to buy food from Zambia’s own harvest. But U.S. law stipulates that almost all of the food it donates to the program must be grown in and shipped from America. The statute is vigorously defended by agribusiness partisans, who have called the Bush administration’s efforts to change the law “beyond insane.”

With traditional family models collapsing and society decentralizing in the wake of China’s gradual shift toward a capitalist economy, many Chinese are breaking with tradition and pursuing divorces, the Post reports. “[P]eople are eager to look for happiness,” said one Chinese sociologist. Meanwhile, the WSJ fronts news that Saudi Arabian women, despite isolated small victories, aren’t the main beneficiaries of the modernizing forces that are reshaping that country.

After years of resisting its influence, many Iranian clerics and officials are embracing the Internet as a means of communicating their messages, the LAT reports. It’s not all fatwas and cyber-sharia, though: One former Iranian official has written “about the theft of his cellphone, about his favorite barber, about how fat people need to be accepted in society.” A job offer from Nick Denton is, surely, forthcoming.

Statistics released by the Labor Department on Friday indicate that employment numbers and pay rates continued to grow during March, the NYT reports.

The NYT goes below the fold with an entertaining jailhouse interview with fugitive-turned-folk hero-turned-cop-killer Ralph “Bucky” Phillips, who escaped from a western New York jail last April and was famously on the lam for five months thereafter. “I enjoyed those few months more than I’ve enjoyed any other time in my life,” said Phillips, who also claimed that the state troopers whom he shot fired at him first. Phillips said that he did not, in fact, use a can opener to cut his way through the jail ceiling.

The other White House plumber: Howard Arrington, White House plumber for seven presidents, has died at 79 years old, the WSJ reports. Arrington had fond memories of Gerald Ford, who “didn’t require much of anything;” and Richard Nixon, who enjoyed a Spartan bathing ritual; but not of Jimmy Carter, who made Arrington file too much paperwork; or Lyndon Johnson, who was apparently obsessed with the water pressure in his Rube Goldberg-esque personal shower and held the plumber to a high and exacting standard: “If I can move 10,000 troops in a day, you certainly can fix the shower.”