The New York Times leads with news of the worsening violence in France, where rioters fired shotguns at police. The Washington Post leads with word that for the past year, Vice President Cheney has fought efforts to toughen rules governing the handling of terror suspects. The Los Angeles Times leads with a news analysis weighing Judge Alito's conservatism. USA Today leads with word that a tornado killed 22 people in Indiana. And the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide news box with the news that after a failed summit in Argentina, Bush urged Latin Americans to safeguard their democracies.
The NYT leads with, the WP teases, and everybody else fronts news that violence in France continued to worsen. Rioters opened fire on police in a working-class suburb of Paris, wounding 10 officers. President Chirac vowed to restore order, saying that containing the violence was an "absolute priority," and that "the law must have the last word." On Saturday night alone, rioters set fire to 1,300 vehicles. The rioting was touched off when two boys were accidentally electrocuted while hiding from police. Referring to that incident, one French-African man said, "It's not going to end until there are two policemen dead." Muslim groups have condemned the violence.
The WP reports that Cheney has been opposing adding legal protections for military prisoners. When Sen. John McCain proposed an amendment that would ban torture, Cheney tried to exempt the CIA. Other tactics include canceling meetings and holding meetings without key players. But Cheney has found himself increasingly isolated as other administration officials have come to oppose his philosophy of combating terrorism, which holds that the president should have almost unlimited flexibility in dealing with detainees. Opposing Cheney are those who hold that harsh interrogation methods and prisoner torture have done more harm than good by damaging American credibility.
The LAT assesses Judge Alito and concludes that he "does not present an easy target for Senate Democrats." Liberals are saying he's a right-wing extremist, but Senate Democrats are being cautious, and no one is talking about a filibuster. He has a long record as a judge, but "shuns broad pronouncements" and has few "sharp-edged comments on highly charged issues." Meanwhile, says the LAT, the cases being highlighted as exemplars of his extremism, three cases involving abortion, gun control, and search and seizure, are more complicated than liberal critics are making them seem, and do not necessarily imply an extreme conservative ideology.
USAT leads with, and the others front, news that in Evansville, Ind., a sudden-onset tornado killed at least 22 people and injured 200, destroying houses, businesses, and churches along a 20-mile stretch. The tornado was an F3 on the Fujita scale, the state's worst in 31 years. It struck around 2 a.m., when residents weren't awake to hear the tornado warning that was issued about 15 minutes beforehand.
At the recent Americas Summit, Bush was hoping to push his plan to establish a vast free-trade zone that would comprise all of the Americas. But leaders failed to agree, and the summit ultimately lent strength to the protectionist president of Venezuela. The message: "Washington can no longer have its way in setting the economic agenda in its own backyard or in a large part of the developing world." Bush responded by implying that enacting the Venezuelan president's plan of curbing democracy would cause the country to risk "sliding back into tyranny."
A WP front charts the "tortuous route" the subject of a flu pandemic has taken to finally reach the top of the national agenda. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson had scheduled a briefing to discuss preparations for a worldwide outbreak on the morning of 9/11. Four years later, the administration has finally released a flu preparedness plan, Bush has asked for $7 billion, and the international community is discussing a containment strategy. But getting the country's attention, the WP points out, "took four more years of cajoling, the reappearance of 'bird flu' in Asia with a chilling trickle of human deaths, a vaccine debacle, Bush's summer reading, migrating birds and a hurricane."
A WSJ front notes that nonviolent Muslim groups in France stand to gain from the unrest there. The violence has put these groups in the role of intermediaries who can rein in disaffected youths when the government cannot. This is troubling to a secular democracy such as France because some groups also encourage Islamic youths to disengage from civil society and think of themselves not as citizens but as Muslims.
A NYT front-page profile delves into Alito's personal history and does not find a hardcore conservative ideology. One college buddy says, "The reason I'm hoping he gets confirmed, even though I am a liberal, maybe an ultraliberal, is because I think he's an honest, well-intentioned guy who believes in judicial restraint."
Heaven on Earth … The NYT reports that Christian evangelicals are increasingly campaigning for legislation to control global warming, citing the Biblical imperative to be good stewards of the earth. Environmental groups welcome the "added muscle," but aren't sure how much good it will do. The environmentally oriented evangelical groups include the Noah Alliance, which has helped protect endangered species, and the Evangelical Environmental Network, which describes its mission as "creation care."
Jay Dixit is a writer in New York. He has written for the New York Times and Rolling Stone.