Today's Papers

Global Warning

The Los Angeles Times and New York Times lead with the release of the final report by the United Nations climate change panel, which gives the gravest warnings yet of the coming effects of global warming. The Washington Post leads with the unprecedented move of bringing General David Petraeus, the commander of US forces in Iraq, back to Washington to oversee a board picking the next generation of generals. The Wall Street Journal leads its worldwide news box with comments from a Federal Reserve official suggesting that the bank was not likely to cut interest rates any more.

The U.N. climate report, the NYT says, lays out for the first time specific risks that states take by failing to act on global warming: “melting ice sheets that could lead to a rapid rise in sea levels and the extinction of large numbers of species brought about by even moderate amounts of warming, on the order of 1 to 3 degrees.” The LAT report notes the UN’s emphasis on adaptation to climate change – like building walls to keep out rising seas and building higher bridges – rather than just trying to mitigate the effects. While adaptation was previously thought of as a “defeatist” approach, the panel acknowledged that “a lot of near-term impacts of climate change are already locked in,” in the words of one of the report’s authors.

The White House apparently had a press conference to discuss the report, but embargoed it until the official release of the report Saturday morning. All the papers respect the embargo, but the Post gets around it by interviewing the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and it doesn’t sound like he’s tripping over himself to act on the U.N.’s conclusions: The report, he says, “lays out a wide variety of mandatory and non-mandatory controls that deal with carbon emissions. These tools have varying effectiveness that varies from country to country. We have been careful not to prefer one tool over another, but to ensure that we are using the right tool.”

In related news, the Post reports that Al Gore will be making his first visit to the White House since losing to its current occupant in 2000. President Bush, as is customary, is hosting an Oval Office meet-and-greet for the American winners of this year’s Nobel Prizes on Nov. 26. “It’s unusual, that’s for sure,” a Gore adviser said. “But … the White House has been very gracious about it.”

Why would the Pentagon want to take Petreaus away from fighting the war to take on such a mundane task as picking the next group of one-star generals? It’s a sign that the top brass recognizes that its current system of promotions does not produce the kind of creative, politically savvy leaders that it wants – and that it believes Petreaus is. “Dave Petraeus in many ways is viewed as the archetype of what this new generation of senior leader is all about,” said one ex-general/pundit quoted by the Post, “a guy … who understands information operations, who can be effective on Capitol Hill, who can communicate with Iraqis, who understands the value of original thought.” It’s part of a larger initiative to change the ways that officers are promoted, such as taking into account more feedback from the officers’ subordinates rather than just his or her superiors, in an effort to weed out yes men.

The Journal fronts, and the LAT stuffs, the rollout of a grande national TV ad campaign by Starbucks; it’s a change of strategy from a company that has previously tried to portray itself as a bunch of local coffee shops that just happen to exist on every corner of every city. Why start ads now? Starbucks just experienced its first-ever quarterly decline in the average number of transactions per store as it faces competition from many corners and a declining economy in which $4 coffees are among the first things consumers give up. The Journal does some nice digging, rereading the company chairman’s 1997 book in which he warns that “by its very nature, national advertising fuels fears about ubiquity… In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign.”

Also in the papers… The Post fronts the raid by federal agents of a company minting “private currency” for the gold standard crowd – including dollar coins with the face of Ron Paul. The company’s head responded: “The federal government really is afraid.” Iraqis say that U.S. air strikes accidentally killed 40 members of a pro-U.S. militia, the LAT reports. Western election observers have decided that it will not be possible to properly monitor elections in Russia next month, so they’re not going to even try, everyone reports. Garcia and Rodriguez have become the first Hispanic names to crack the top ten most common surnames in the U.S., the NYT reports. (Check out how popular your own name is at the Census Bureau website.) All the papers note that Alvin “Buzzy” Krongard, the CIA’s former number-three official who is in the midst of a public dispute with his brother, the State Department inspector general, has resigned from Blackwater’s board. The NYT has a good profile of both men. The Journal fronts word that New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez’s new $275 million contract was brokered by some surprising figures – Warren Buffet and two top Goldman Sachs executives.

All the news that’s fit to print: The Wall Street Journal apparently saw unfit to print any news at all of the U.N. climate report that led the NYT and LAT. They did manage, however, to squeeze in this gem on page A7: “GALVESTON, Texas – The trial of a prominent bird-watcher accused of animal cruelty for shooting a cat ended in a mistrial Friday after jurors couldn’t reach a verdict.”