The Palestinian territories continue to unravel.

The Palestinian territories continue to unravel.

The Palestinian territories continue to unravel.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
June 13 2006 3:17 AM

Fatah Accompli?

The Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox and New York Timeslead with hundreds of gunmen loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his party, Fatah—mostly members of "security forces"—torching the Hamas-controlled parliament building. Nobody was in the building at the time and nobody was killed. The rampage came after Hamas forces attacked a Fatah-controlled security office in Gaza, killing two and wounding 15. "Every time they touch one of ours in Gaza, we will get 10 of theirs in the West Bank," said one Fatah gunmen. The Los Angeles Timesleads with an interview with two top Jordanian intel officials who aren't shy about trumpeting Jordan's help in tracking down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. As the LAT puts it, after last year's bombings in Amman, "Jordanian intelligence operatives flooded" Iraq.

USA Todayleads with a poll showing the president getting a bump, perhaps from the recent bump-off: 47 percent of respondents said things are going well in Iraq, up about 10 points from March. The Washington Postleads with the FBI's annual report showing violent crime increasing 2.5 percent last year, with murders up nearly 5 percent. Overall, it's the first significant uptick in five years, and it seems to be centered around Midwest cities. The FBI warned that the numbers are preliminary and that some jurisdictions haven't sent in their stats yet.

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The NYT fronts the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling that should smooth the way for challenges of death sentences by lethal injection. The court didn't say anything about the constitutionality of lethal injection. Instead, it ruled on what avenue such challenges should take. As the NYT puts it, the justices picked the more "inmate-friendly" path.

Despite the big play, don't read too much into the lethal-injection decision. As the NYT helpfully notes, just a few weeks ago the court declined to hear a case that directly challenged the constitutionality of the method.

The LAT has a piece below the fold that looks at the case and the court's 5-3 ruling allowing a prisoner, who cited DNA evidence, to challenge his conviction nearly 20 years after his trial. The case is murky—a lower court judge referred to it as a "real-life murder mystery"—and the LAT says the case is "not likely to affect a large number of convicted murderers" since the court ruled on narrow grounds.

But a WP editorial says the murkiness of the DNA case is actually good news for others who are trying to get courts to consider new evidence in their cases: It means "that inmates who can raise a serious factual question about their guilt should have a somewhat easier time getting into the courthouse in the first place."

About 40 people were killed yesterday in Iraq, and according to early-morning reports, another 15 people were killed by three car bombs in the tinderbox city of Kirkuk. The Post gives brief attention far down to an incident that seems worthy of more:

In Amarah, a Shiite city in the south, British forces clashed with armed protesters for one hour, [an Iraqi government spokesman] said, leaving eight civilians dead and 20 wounded.

The NYT doesn't seem to mention it at all. U.S. soldiers acknowledged killing two small boys during a shootout. Also, the military offered a glimpse at Zarqawi's autopsy report, which concluded that he survived for nearly an hour after the airstrike and died from massive internal wounds after a medic had been working on him for about 20 minutes. As the NYT emphasizes, a jihadist Web site claimed that a successor has been named: "Abu Hamza al-Muhajir"—nobody has ever heard of him.

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