Today's Papers

Hazy Connections

The Los Angeles Timesleads with a look at the mounting resistance against the Bush administration’s plan to set up a missile-defense system in Eastern Europe. This opposition goes far beyond the well-known objections of Russia, as lawmakers in Washington, the Czech Republic, and Poland are increasingly skeptical that the system would be in their country’s best interests. The New York Timesleads, and the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, with British police arresting a fifth suspect as it continues its investigation, which is “moving at breakneck speed,” into the failed car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow. None of the suspects appears to be a British citizen, and government officials emphasized that they have connections to al-Qaida. But as the NYT notes, it is unclear exactly what kind of ties exist between the bombers and the terrorist group.

USA Todayleads with word that the Pentagon has decided to increase the supply of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles by 600 percent. The decision to build as many as 17,700 MRAPs comes after the Army requested an increase in the vehicles, which can better protect troops in Iraq from improvised explosive devises. But the plan could run into opposition from some members of Congress, who have been pressuring for an increase in the vehicles but doubt contractors can build them fast enough. The Washington Postleads new research that seems to show a link between stress and obesity. When researchers put mice and monkeys in stressful situations and fed them a high-fat, high-sugar diet, they discovered that a hormone was released that promoted the growth of abdominal fat. In what was the true breakthrough, researchers showed they could then use this information to either decrease or increase the accumulation of fat in specific areas of the body. Of course, lots more research has to be done, and human trials are expected to begin in two years, but everyone seems to think the advances hold great promise not only for decreasing fat but also for reconstructive surgeries that currently require the use of “extremely expensive fat replacements.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Bush will surely discuss the missile-defense system as they begin their intimate meeting in Maine. But the administration’s incessant focus on trying to convince Russia that the system is worthwhile, and shouldn’t be seen as a threat, may have been misguided, suggests the LAT. Legislatures in Poland and the Czech Republic officially support the system, but they’re finding themselves facing an increasingly vocal opposition, as the majority of people in both countries oppose it. Meanwhile, members of Congress are also skeptical that the system can actually be effective and some legislation has passed that would forbid the Pentagon from beginning construction. Although administration officials say they are confident that these hurdles can be overcome, opposition is only bound to increase as Bush’s time in office runs out and his influence continues to decline.

British police say they continue to find connections between the attempted attacks in London and Glasgow, the latter of which witnesses say was carried out by people of South Asian descent. “Any suggestion to be made that they are home-grown terrorists is not true,” Scotland’s justice secretary said, in a sentiment that was echoed by various officials who almost seemed relieved by the news. But the WSJ warns that the fact that they’re not homegrown terrorists reveals “a new dimension to Britain’s problem with terrorism.” The intent focus on homegrown terrorism may have actually helped the planners stay below the radar of intelligence agencies. Many seem to believe the plots were intended to send a message to Brown, who took over the prime minister job last week, and is Scottish. “It was an obvious attempt to destabilize the government and to get the government to withdraw troops from Iraq,” an analyst tells the LAT.

The WP and LAT front, and USAT and NYT reefer, Sen. Barack Obama announcing that he raised $32.5 million for his presidential campaign in the second quarter of 2007, and all but $1.5 million of that total is for the primary race. That puts Obama well above Sen. Hillary Clinton, whose campaign has announced she will likely report $21 million for the primary, and $27 million total, in the second quarter. 

The LAT notes that the total raised by Obama is “more than all other Democratic candidates combined raised for the same period four years ago.” Obama’s campaign also emphasized that most of its new 154,000 donors had given small amounts (average donation: $202) so they can contribute to the campaign again. Other Democrats also announced their totals, as John Edwards’ campaign said it had raised $9 million, Gov. Bill Richardson got $7 million, and Sen. Christopher Dodd collected $3.25 million.

The papers note that the Senate judiciary committee chairman said yesterday that he is ready to seek a congressional vote to hold President Bush in contempt if the administration doesn’t comply with the congressional subpoenas requesting documents relating to the firings of U.S. attorneys. “If they don’t cooperate, yes, I’d go that far,” Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont said.

On Wednesday, July 4, it will be 40 years since the Freedom of Information Act was implemented, and today, the WP and NYT go inside with a new survey by the National Security Archive that says agencies often take months or even years to respond to requests for information. The State Department is the worst offender, as it still has to respond to 10 requests filed in 1991 or earlier. The oldest request was filed May 5, 1987 with the State Department by the Church of Scientology. The vice president of journalism programs at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation puts the wait into perspective for the Post: “The Internet grew into adulthood in less time than it has taken our federal government to deal with these outstanding Freedom of Information requests.”