The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times lead with the resumption in Washington this week of Israel-Syria peace talks. Both papers emphasize that prospects for an end to the 51-year state of war between the two countries are excellent. The New York Times leads with a U.S. surgeon general's report, to be released today, stating that although in any given year one in five Americans experiences a mental disorder and that half of all Americans do so at least once in the course of their lives, most never seek treatment. USA Today goes with the Census Bureau's release today of a special edition of its annual statistical abstract of the U.S. that offers a snapshot of how the country has changed during this century. Some examples: In the century's first decade, there were 2 million immigrants from Italy and 50,000 from Mexico, and in its last, the numbers were approximately the reverse; America's air is 10 times as polluted today as in 1900; the population of Buffalo is almost exactly the same as in 1900, while that of L.A. is about 35 times larger. A NYT inside story on the abstract notes that two of the most popular girls' names in 1900 were Florence and Bertha, while today, neither is in the top 10,000.
The reporting on Israel-Syria makes it clear that the most sensitive issues to be hashed out are whether Israel will keep an intelligence-gathering post in the Golan Heights and its access to the Sea of Galilee. The WP account states that in the run-up to last week's announcement of the talks, the U.S. engaged in much secret diplomacy, including a dozen phone calls between President Clinton and Syria's Hafez Assad. Last week, the LAT reported that Yasser Arafat was not pleased by the Israel-Syria thaw, but today's LAT doesn't follow up on this.
The NYT says the surgeon general's report finds that most people with mental disorders don't get help because they don't think effective treatments exist, or they fear being stigmatized, or because they lack applicable insurance. The report endorses, says the paper, equality between mental health insurance coverage and that for physical illnesses and claims that such a coverage increase needn't be costly.
The LAT is alone in fronting the International Olympic Committee's weekend reaction to the past year's 2002 Winter Games bribery scandal: voting in a reform package designed to restore the IOC's reputation. The package's most prominent measure is a ban on members' visits to bidding cities. The story quotes IOC chairman Juan Antonio Samaranch as saying the vote means the problem is solved, but it also notes that the House of Representatives will be questioning him this week at hearings looking into Olympic corruption. In addition, says the LAT, a DOJ investigation continues.
A WP front-page in-depther on Bill Bradley, second in a series, portrays him as driven and insecure as a young scholar-athlete. The story says that as a Knick, he routinely held on to an opposing player's shorts and even garners a quote from the man 26 years later: "He was one of the dirtiest players I ever played against." (And the story also relates that at Princeton, Bradley dated Diane Sawyer, seriously enough that she and her parents visited his house over Christmas one year. Neither Bradley nor Sawyer would comment to the Post about the romance.) Meanwhile, on the USAT front Barbara Bush mounts a defense of George W.'s gravitas: "People don't know that he is a very smart history buff and that's what he reads." (For Slate's take on another aspect of GWB's persona click here.)
Sunday's NYT "Week in Review" confuses with a graphic about "Saturday Night Specials." The text says they are a favorite among criminals, but the stats go the other way: one box shows that SNSs only account for about 15 percent of all guns traced to crimes, and another shows that five of the nine models with the shortest time-in-existence-before-use-in-a-crime are not SNSs. In other words, it's clear from all this that "good" guns are more of a problem.
We remember when "Gilded Age" was just an expression: The Wall Street Journal front reports a "microtrend" in men's fashion: weaving gold into suits.
USAT reports that the U.S. is the third happiest country in the world. No. 2 is Australia, and No. 1 is Denmark.