Everybody leads again with the Levant war: The New York Timessays "hundreds of Israeli troops" have crossed the border on search-and-destroy missions. Haaretz says "thousands of soldiers" are involved. Four Israeli soldiers were killed yesterday. Hezbollah doesn't seem to release its casualty figures. About 30 Lebanese were reported killed in airstrikes, while Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah appeared on Al Jazeera to prove he wasn't killed by Wednesday's big strike in Beirut. Roughly 50 rockets hit Israel yesterday, a third of the number of the day before. No casualties were reported.
Only the Los Angeles Timesand Wall Street Journal give significant play to Israel ordering all Lebanese to leave a 20-mile swath in the south of the country. "All residents of south Lebanon south of the Litani [River] must leave their areas immediately for their own safety," said Israel in an announcement that went out via radio and even to cell phones. Nobody's sure how many people are still there, but normally 300,000 people live in the region, which is twice the size of the buffer zone Israel previously had.
That seems like significant news, but the NYT doesn't think so. Instead it leads: "MARINES RETURN TO BEIRUT TO AID U.S. EVACUATION." ( USA Today has a similar take.) It was 40 Marines, and they were simply "helping citizens board a landing craft." That's bigger news than Israel moving to depopulate the south of Lebanon?
In contrast to the NYT and USAT's bizarrely parochial play, the LAT runs a near-banner headline: "LEBANESE TOLD THE LEAVE THE SOUTH."
The Washington Post, LAT, and NYT all give front-page play to dispatches from the southern Lebanese city of Tyre, where aid officials estimate about 12,000 people are stranded, with no aid coming in and no easy way to get out.
The LAT sets the scene:
Civil structure appears to have broken down almost completely. Ambulances haven't been able to operate. The dead are rotting in the rubble of smashed homes. Food and clean drinking water are running out.
"We just want transporation out of here," said one woman who doesn't have the means to leave. Her village was bombed, and it wasn't safe for rescue workers to travel and pull out the dead. "This morning the dogs were eating the neighbors," her husband said.
Hezbollah still controls Beirut's southern suburbs—even the Lebanese government isn't allowed access to some neighborhoods—and reporters were brought in to see some damage. The Post has a remarkable 360-degree photo showing one neighborhood all but leveled.
The WP says 2,250 Americans were evacuated yesterday, the highest single-day total so far.
Everybody flags U.N. chief Kofi Annan denouncing Hezbollah—for holding "an entire nation hostage"—and also Israel, for "excessive use of force." The Journal declares the White House "increasingly isolated in its support for Israel."
One administration official told Post columnist David Ignatius, "America's role is to energize a political outcome that helps to satisfy Israeli military objectives by other means." The problem with that, writes Ignatius, is that "the American diplomatic timetable is so slow that by the time a cease-fire is reached—more than a week off, by U.S. estimates—Lebanon may be too broken to be put back together anytime soon."
In Iraq, the WP notes that police in Baghdad found "dozens of corpses," and a car bomb exploded next to an ice-cream vendor, which meant yesterday ranked as "one of the quietest days in one of the year's bloodiest weeks, with no single reported attack in Iraq claiming more than 13 lives."
The NYT flags a new Iraqi government report concluding that 1,100 families fled their homes just last week, and that 162,000 people have filed for relocation aid since the Shiite shrine was bombed in February. Everybody seems to agree that the numbers are almost certainly an undercount since plenty of people forced to move don't register.
A front-page NYT piece looks at how bakeries in Baghdad have become a sectarian target. They're usually operated by Shiites. In one Sunni neighborhood that had 11 bakeries, one is still open—the only one that was Sunni-owned.
The Post off-leads a wide-ranging report by the Institute of Medicine concluding that medication errors affect about 1.5 million people in the U.S. annually. The study is a follow-up to a similar report put out seven years ago, for which most of the suggested reforms have been gathering dust. For example, just 6 percent of hospitals use computer-entry systems for prescriptions.
Apiece inside the Post profiles a CIA contractor who was just fired. Her apparent transgression: She wrote a blog post in support of the Geneva Conventions.