Leavitt Worth

Leavitt Worth

Leavitt Worth

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Dec. 14 2004 3:45 AM

Leavitt Worth

The Los Angeles Timesleads with Unocal agreeing to settle a suit brought by Burmese refugees who claimed that the oil company was complicit in rapes, murders, and beatings meted out by Myanmar army units stationed along the route of a planned Unocal pipeline. It's the first settlement in what has become a burgeoning genre of suits against companies for their alleged complicity in countries' human-rights abuses. "Nobody can treat these cases as a joke anymore," said one analyst. USA Today'slead says U.S. programs to help Russia secure and destroy its nuclear and chemical weapons stockpile are years behind schedule. The paper mostly blames growing Russian resistance to giving the U.S. access and says the pact governing the programs, which expires in June 2006, may not get renewed. The story doesn't mention the White House's enthusiasm or lack of it for continuing the programs. But last year USAT said the administration was opposed to renewing the pact.

The Washington Postleads with Bush nominating EPA chiefMike Leavitt as the new secretary of Heath of Human Services, which has a roughly $500 billon budget. Leavitt is a former governor of Utah and a strong proponent of devolving power to the states. Also, as expected, NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe formally submitted his resignation. The New York Times'lead unveils deals Google has made with top libraries to post their collections on the Web, free for everyone to peruse. Among the participants are Harvard, Oxford, and the New York Public Library. "Within two decades, most of the world's knowledge will be digitized and available," said the head librarian at Stanford, which is also part of the deal.

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The Wall Street Journal goes high with word that the Pentagon is about to ask the White House to request $80 billion in emergency dough for Iraq and Afghanistan, about $10 billion more than Congress has been expecting. Last week, the Post mentioned in passing that the request would be "close to $100 billion."

According to early morning reports, another car bomb exploded near Baghdad's Green Zone, killing seven Iraqis.

The military said two more Marines were killed in the Anbar province, bringing the two-day total to 10. Again, citing Marine policy, spokesmen didn't say if the deaths were in Fallujah. But there is obviously fighting there. "We are still in the combat operations phase," one Marine spokesman told the Post.

There was also another suicide bombing in Baghdad yesterday, wounding three GIs and a couple of Iraqi civilians. The Post says two Iraqi national guardsmen were killed north of Baghdad and three children were killed by crossfire in Samara. (The WP's front page has also a particularly graphic photo from yesterday's big bombing.)

The NYT says Iraqi national guardsmen and police fought off an attack by insurgents, the third time that's happened recently. The paper doesn't cite a source. The Post does, explaining the tip came via a military press release, which said, "The successful defense of the Rasheed station, the third in recent weeks, represents an important psychological victory for the local Iraqi security forces."

USAT
fronts a visit to an Iraqi police training academy. The paper isn't impressed, nor are top commanders. Gen. John Abizaid told USAT the nascent force has "a long way to go."

A piece inside the NYT says the CIA was concerned enough—in a CYA kind of way—about soldiers' mistreatment of Iraqi detainees, that it memo-ed agents, "If the military employed any type of techniques beyond questions and answers, we should not participate and should not be present."

The LAT fronts word that the U.S. let an air cargo company connected to an arms smuggler work as a subcontractor in Iraq. The work continued until recently, despite the fact that the CIA "expressed concern" more than a year ago. Though the LAT doesn't mention it, Newsweek beat them to the punch.

The NYT, alone, fronts a Chilean judge reversing an earlier ruling and deciding that 89-year-old former dictator Augusto Pinochet is indeed fit to stand trial. The judge, who also formally brought charges of kidnapping and murder, cited a TV interview Pinochet gave last year, in which he seemed pretty lucid, saying, "Everything I did, I would do again."

Yesterday's USAT said Army National Guard soldiers in Iraq were a third more likely to be killed than their active duty brethren. But in an admirable bit of non-defensive journalism, today's USAT fronts: "ARMY GUARD NOW SAYS ITS IRAQ TROOPS FIGURE WAS INACCURATE." A Guard spokesman said the military gave the paper a bad count of the total number of guard troops who've served in Iraq, making USAT's analysis bunk. So, what is the right figure? The military says it doesn't know.

Eric Umansky, previously the "Today's Papers" columnist for Slate, is currently a Gordon Grey Fellow at Columbia University's School of Journalism.