The New York Times's top non-local story says that the U.S. is trying to get countries to promise that they will never extradite any U.S. peacekeepers to the new International Criminal Court. So far, Romania and Israel have agreed. The Bush administration had been trying to get the United Nations to give American soldiers blanket immunity from the war crimes court, and last month agreed to a deal that gave soldiers immunity for a year. The Washington Post leads with the Justice Department's refusal to hand over documents to a judge who is considering whether an American-born al-Qaida fighter held by the U.S. can be detained without a lawyer. The DOJ refused to hand over the docs because doing so, it said, "would all but amount to a review of the military's enemy combatant determination," which, the DOJ argued, the judicial branch doesn't have the power to do. The one legal expert quoted in the article said he "doesn't think the Justice Department has the power to simply defy the court." The NYT stuffs the story—and credits the WP for breaking it. USA Today leads with word that a year after President Bush's compromise decision to allow some federal funding of stem-cell research, not much scientific progress has been made. Some scientists argue that Bush's decision—which allowed federal funding of research into only pre-existing stem-cell lines—put a crimp on research. (Yesterday's WP fronted a similar story.) The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's comments that the Pentagon has "not made many strides" recently in improving military intelligence. (Last week, the NYT said that Rumsfeld is pushing for the creation of a Pentagon post to oversee the military's various intel agencies.) In a clear tip-off of a slow news day, the Los Angeles Times leads with an overview piece noting that some of the United States' allies are opposed to any U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The NYT fronts a stem-cell check-in with a fresher angle than the other papers' coverage: The Times points out that in a little-noticed decision this past March, the administration ruled that researchers who receive federal funds don't have to adhere to the stem-cell restrictions so long as they do the research without federal funds.
The Post off-leads a sort of trend piece saying that since congressional Democrats and Republicans struck a deal five years ago, lawmakers have increasingly chosen to "overlook alleged transgressions by their own colleagues." The WP says that about the only time legislators launch ethics investigations nowadays is when a member has already been convicted in court (i.e., Rep. James Traficant) or when prosecutors hand the ethics committee a chunk of evidence (i.e., Sen. Robert Torricelli).
The Post's article mentions, past the jump, lawmakers' explanation for the lack of ethics action: They say they want to avoid the trap of politically motivated investigations like those that mucked up the 1990s and so are simply deferring to prosecutors. (The Post doesn't say how effective prosecutors have historically been in nailing members of Congress.)
A piece in the WSJ notes that embattled financial analyst Jack Grubman gave $100,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee just a few days before he was called before a Senate committee to testify about his knowledge of WorldCom's accounting scandal.
The NYT goes high with word that the Israeli Supreme Court, arguing that the country is in the midst of war, ruled that the army is allowed to blow up the homes of families related to suicide bombers. The court also ruled that the army doesn't have to give families notice of the impending destruction of their homes.
Everybody mentions late-breaking news that about 30 Israeli tanks moved into the Gaza Strip. A Palestinian police officer was killed in the incursion.
Also yesterday, the Israeli army killed two Palestinian militants in the West Bank. The army said one of the men masterminded a recent suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. The Post says that the men were "hunted down" and then killed in a gun battle.
The NYT mentions that many Israelis are up in arms (not literally) because it turns out that since the much-hyped decision to build a 225-mile fence around the West Bank, only 120 feet has actually gone up.
A piece inside the NYT profiles Human Resources, a new, hit game show in economically strapped Argentina. The show doesn't offer winning contestants new cars or loads of cash. It gives them something even more valuable: a job. The prize on a recent episode: a paying gig as a sales clerk in a bakery.