The Washington Postand USA Todaylead with a Supreme Court ruling that limits the number of people who qualify as disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that in order for somebody to be considered disabled—thus requiring their employer to accommodate to their limitations—the person must have a disability that interferes with tasks of "central importance to most people's daily lives." In other words, the court said, if you can brush your teeth and wash your face, suck it up, you're not disabled and don't qualify for the protections of the ADA. (Yes, the justices really cited these as examples.) Non-catastrophic work-related injuries, like, say, sore wrists caused by writing a nightly column, don't count but are still covered under workers' comp laws. USAT emphasizes that the ruling is bad news for sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome. The court's decision is also the Los Angeles Times' top non-local story. The New York Timesleads with word that the "United States is preparing a military presence in Central Asia that could last for years." American soldiers are building an airbase in Kyrgyzstan and improving ones elsewhere in the region. Each service of the military is also preparing to rotate troops in and out of the region indefinitely. The first story in the Wall Street Journal's worldwide newsbox says that the Pentagon hasn't found much valuable intelligence (or Bin Laden) in Tora Bora and has now decided that the best way to nab al-Qaida members is to focus on an area farther south, near the town of Khost. U.S. troops captured 14 al-Qaida members there yesterday, two of whom were considered important enough to take into custody.
The papers note that the military has been surprised to find that al-Qaida had a serious military complex near Khost. (If the Pentagon had read Slate a few weeks ago, it could have gotten a hint.)
Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, said the purpose of maintaining U.S. bases in Central Asia "may be more political than actually military." He added that the bases would "send a message that we have a capacity to come back in and will come back in—we're not just going to forget about" the region.
The LAT goes high with word that the Pentagon has decided there's another high-priority fugitive to go after: Abu Zubeida, the man thought to be entrusted with keeping al-Qaida alive. The search is especially difficult because little is known about Zubeida. Authorities aren't even sure of his nationality or age.
The second blurb in the Journal's worldwide newsbox announces: "The shoe bomb that suspected terrorist Richard Reid brought on a U.S.-bound flight last month was sophisticated and reminiscent of a type of bomb commonly used by Palestinian suicide bombers." The possible Palestinian connection has already been well covered, especially in British papers. As for the bomb's sophistication, the WSJ says that the device was a mixture of two explosives. Other papers noted the combo last week. But the WSJ does add some detail, explaining that the mixture enabled the bomb to be completed without any metal parts and thus didn't set off metal detectors. "It's clever and very simple," said one expert.
The papers note that while economists are convinced that happy days are about to be here again, a top Fed official said the recession might last for a while longer.
The LAT catches late breaking news: Two Palestinian gunmen, who may have been dressed in Palestinian police uniforms, killed three Israeli soldiers before they themselves were shot dead. The incident is the first major outbreak of violence in what had been the region's most peaceful week since the outbreak of fighting in September 2000.
Yesterday's NYT covered a German magazine's interview of Leni Riefenstahl, maker of such brilliant Nazi propaganda films as Triumph of the Will. Riefenstahl, who turns 100 this year and rarely grants interviews, contends that she wasn't a Nazi supporter, just naïve. Whatever Riefenstahl's motives, says James May in a letter in today's NYT, her films had a tangible impact:
When Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda film 'Victory of the Faith' was shown at the UFA-Palast in Heilbronn, Germany, in 1934, my entire high school was in attendance. We were three Jewish students in a class of about 700. We were forced to sit in the first row of the theater, and while all stood up and sang patriotic German songs, we three had to remain seated.
After the performance, and in front of our professors, we were beaten up. One of the professors said, 'The world will learn from this!'