Today's Papers

Going Small

The Washington Postleads, and the New York Times fronts, word that President Bush will announce a new set of sanctions against Sudan’s government for its failure to stop the violence that has been plaguing the country’s Darfur region. The measures include sanctions that target government-controlled businesses as well as two senior government officials and a rebel leader. The Los Angeles Timesleads with a look at how U.S. military leaders are looking for ways to “redefine success” now that they’re starting to realize the political goals that were linked to the “surge” in Iraq will not be met. Instead of focusing on the broad national goals, military leaders are expected to start pointing to small, local successes as a sign of progress. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with, and the WP off-leads, the talks between the Iranian and U.S. ambassadors in Baghdad, where the two officials traded accusations of who was responsible for fomenting the violence in Iraq. As expected, there were no real breakthroughs, although both sides characterized the meeting as positive and left open the possibility for more talks in the future.

The NYT leads with the effort by a group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers to increase funding for the coal industry, even as congressional leaders are set to introduce legislation to decrease greenhouse gases. The coal industry has been lobbying heavily and insists coal-to-liquid fuels could be a source of clean energy, although opponents counter that much of the technology is still unproven. The papersays the fight illustrates the “tension, which many lawmakers gloss over, between slowing global warming and reducing dependence on foreign oil.” USA Todayleads with an analysis showing that if the federal government were to use the same accounting standards as corporations it would have recorded a $1.3 trillion loss last year instead of the official $248 billion deficit. The discrepancy is because the federal government does not follow modern accounting rules that require expenses to be recorded immediately, even if they will be paid for in the future, such as Social Security.

As part of the administration’s effort to apply pressure on Sudan, Bush will task Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with getting the United Nations to approve a new arms embargo and to prohibit the government from conducting military flights in Darfur. Bush was apparently ready to announce the new sanctions last month but decided to hold off when the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon asked for more time to continue pursuing a diplomatic solution. But the NYT reports that Bush is “extremely frustrated” with the situation and decided he shouldn’t wait any longer. The WP notes that the announcement is likely to anger U.N. diplomats who have recently said they have been making progress with negotiations.

Of the three broad political goals outlined by U.S. officials when they were touting the increase of troops in Iraq, only the new law to distribute the country’s oil revenue might be completed by September, and even that is a long shot. Knowing full well they can’t tell Congress that there’s been no progress, military leaders are beginning to shift focus away from the central government, saying the initial goals were too ambitious to begin with. Instead, military advisers hope to point to strategies at the local level that are producing results, including agreements with tribal leaders, to emphasize that the situation is improving, albeit slowly.

The main new idea that seemed to come out of the meeting in Baghdad was a proposal put forward by the Iranian ambassador to create a “trilateral mechanism” to discuss ways to reduce the violence in Iraq. The commission would be composed of officials from Iraq, Iran, and the United States. The U.S. ambassador, Ryan Crocker, said he would forward the proposal, along with Iraq’s offer to hold more talks in the coming weeks, to Washington. As had been previously agreed, the only topic was Iraq and so there was no mention of Iran’s nuclear program or its recent detentions of U.S.-Iranian citizens.

In other Iraq news, a suicide bomber killed 24 people near a historic Sunni mosque in Baghdad. The Post says there are concerns the attack could lead to retaliations similar to what took place when the Shiite shrine in Samarra was bombed. But the LAT says the site of the explosion appeared to have been chosen at random. Meanwhile, the NYT fronts a look at how Iraqi prostitutes have become an increasingly common sight in Syria as the number of refugees continues to grow.

The WP fronts the story of Allison Stokke, an 18-year-old pole vaulter who suddenly discovered she had become an Internet sensation. All of the unwanted attention didn’t start with naked pictures or an embarrassing video, but rather from a seemingly innocuous photograph of the attractive teenager that was posted by a popular sports blog earlier this month. Suddenly her popularity began to spread like wildfire all over the Internet. Stokke first tried to ignore it and then wanted to bring it under control, but she soon realized she was powerless to stop it. “Even if none of it is illegal, it just all feels really demeaning,” Stokke said.

Better late … A correction from today’s NYT: “A caption on June 8, 1944 … misspelled the given name of the first officer seated at the left side of the table. He was Col. Girard B. Troland of New London, Conn.—not Gerand. The error was called to the attention of the editors by his grandson yesterday.”