Today's Papers

No Faith in Medicine

The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with, and everybody else but the New York Times fronts, the Myanmar government’s shutdown of Internet and phone access to the country as it continues to crush pro-democracy protests. The NYT leads instead with an FDA expert report urging a ban on cough and cold medicine for young children because a) it’s possibly lethal and b) new evidence indicates it doesn’t even work. The NYT also leads with news that Texas will keep executing people despite a Supreme Court move indicating it wants a moratorium on lethal injections while it decides on their constitutionality.

The Washington Post goes across the top with excerpts from Clarence Thomas’s bitter, vituperative autobiography, which describes Anita Hill as a tool of liberal lynch mobs. And the WP’s other lead says museums and zoos run by the Smithsonian Institution are plagued by appalling maintenance and security failures. The Los Angeles Times  lead says the government is apparently picking up the pace of construction of the border fence this month, after complaints that progress was too slow.

Everyone says the Myanmar government shut off most telephone and Internet links to the country, limiting international coverage of its continued crackdown. The WP and NYT say exile groups are now a major source of information, as well as satellite photos released by an NGO which show large-scale troop movements, forced relocations, and wiped-out villages .

Exiles say more than 200 have been killed, and everyone reports Gordon Brown’s statement that “the loss of life is far greater than is being reported.” The LAT coverage contains more (fragmentary) details from people sending videos and pictures—most notably of Japanese journalist Kenji Nagai being shot at close range. The WSJ supplements the news with analysis of the regime’s belief in decisive military crackdowns.

The NYT and WP also say the Bush administration is leaning on China to prove it’s a responsible global citizen by pushing negotiations that will lead to regime change—essentially the same approach Bush tried when he wanted to pressure China’s other ally, North Korea. Events will tell if Beijing is amenable this time around.

The NYT lead reports that, when multisymptom cough and cold medicines were approved for infants, “it was assumed that children’s bodies were simply smaller versions of adult ones.”

Now an FDA safety review says otherwise: They may cause serious health problems for very young children—including scores of deaths since 1969—without providing any more benefits than a placebo. The report may cause a recall of medicine given to as many as a third of American 3-year-olds during any given month.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court stayed an execution in Texas at the last minute. It also announced it will decide if current lethal injection methods are cruel and unusual. Twelve states took that as a sign they should refrain from executing people whiel the Court deliberates, based on precedent from past Supreme Court procedure. Yet Texas vowed it will continue executions. The NYT is indignant, but the LAT goes inside, and—citing the same facts—it concludes that it might mean Texas will halt executions.

Justice Clarence Thomas’ biography, My Grandfather’s Son, is mostly devoted to his upbringing by his iron-willed grandfather. But it touches upon the Anita Hill hearings, calling them a “high-tech lynching” by a “mob” of liberal activists and elites who “carried no ropes or guns … [but] its purpose—to keep the black man in his place—was unchanged.” The book ends with his confirmation to the court, about which Justice Thomas says “whoop-dee-damn-doo.”

The WP also leads with a GAO report that says the Smithsonian Institution has been cutting back on security guards and skimping on maintenance. While it’s not the travesty at Walter Reed Medical Center, the tales of disintegrating national treasures and leaky tanks at the Zoo can’t help but evoke a similar horrific disrepair.

The LAT lead says construction crews are rushing to build 300 miles of border fence by 2008. It used to cover only cities, but now it also keeps Mexicans out of places like the Barry M. Goldwater mountain range.

The NYT fronts news that increased food prices, caused by demand for ethanol fuel and higher oil costs, mean U.S. food aid buys less than half as much as it did in 2000. President Bush proposed a workable solution, but, the NYT says, lobbyists already killed it.

Everyone says Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled Gen. Pervez Musharraf can stand for re-election to a third term. The court threw out the cases against him on technical grounds, prompting cries of “Shame! Shame!” from democracy protestors. A Musharraf aide, perhaps remembering the GOP approach during the 2000 U.S. election, says they’re “poor losers … crying like babies.”

The WP fronts news that, well, we’re going to be in Iraq for a long time. Possible Cabinet members in Democratic administrations are talking about leaving a significant force in Iraq, as one analyst puts it, “at least for two or three years into the new president’s first term.” Inside, the WP says congressional Democrats are turning to domestic policy, having basically given up on affecting the course of the war until next year.

The WP also fronts a report that five Iraqi eyewitnesses of the Blackwater shooting rampage say the contractors opened fire with little or no provocation, directly contradicting the State Department and sworn statements from the contractors.

And the WP’s book-heavy front page also contains a piece on the release of Jenna Bush’s Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope. The book is culled from interviews with an HIV-positive immigrant that Bush met while teaching at a D.C. school, but the piece is as much a profile of Jenna Bush on tour as it is about the book. TP can only say that reading the Bush-related party girl wax poetic about UNICEF is a truly bizarre experience.