Tokyo Drift

Tokyo Drift

Tokyo Drift

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
July 30 2007 6:02 AM

Tokyo Drift

The New York Timesand the Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox lead with news that voters in Japan delivered a strong rebuke to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's governing Liberal Democratic Party in the upper house of parliament, where the opposition Democratic Party of Japan won a landslide victory. Abe vowed to remain in office despite the defeat, but, as the WSJ emphasizes, there could be increased pressure for him to resign if his own party begins to see him as a liability. USA Todayleads with word that there are a record number of people waiting to appeal initial rejections of their disability claims. The Social Security Administration had 745,000 cases pending in June, and those who appeal have to wait an average of 529 days for a decision, which can wreak havoc in the lives of people who say they are too disabled to work. The problem is likely to get worse in the coming years as the agency doesn't have the staff necessary to deal with the increasing demands of an aging population.

The Los Angeles Timesleads with a look into the divisions inside Iraq's Ministry of Interior, which is a prime example of how different factions are vying for power inside government offices. Western diplomats describe the building that houses the ministry as a "federation of oligarchs" where different factions control separate areas and employees constantly have to fear for their safety. The Washington Postleads with word that, after much lobbying from cellular companies and Google, the Federal Communications Commission will be deciding the rules for the auction of $15 billion of public airwaves. Google wants the FCC to require the winner to commit to building an open network so all customers will have access to its services. This is the first major Washington fight that Google has become involved with and shows the company's "growing ambitions to reach consumers in new ways while exerting its influence on policy," says the Post.

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In overwhelmingly voting against the Liberal Democratic Party, which has dominated Japanese politics for the better part of 52 years, voters were expressing their anger at Abe's government, which has been plagued with scandals and a perception that it can't handle Japan's day-to-day issues. The LAT, which also fronts the elections, goes high with how the defeat is likely to put Abe's "nationalist rhetoric of turning Japan into a 'beautiful country' " on the backburner. But the NYT says the defeat can't be seen as an outright rejection of Abe's "nationalist goals but a notice that they came after the economy and competent leadership." The WSJ takes the long view and says that if Abe ends up resigning, Japan "could return to an era of short-lived premiers."

The LAT's leadis a good reminder of how the Iraqi government is far from unified, and these divisions go far beyond Sunni vs. Shiite. Most Sunnis have already been purged from the ministry, but employees still have to constantly worry about "shifting factional alliances and turf." Meanwhile, these different factions are concerned about increasing their power inside the ministry, leading to the conclusion that trying to come up with a unified solution to Iraq's problems is the last thing on their minds.

Meanwhile, the NYT fronts a look at the creation of a fortified compound in Baghdad to try accused militants. The paper dubs this "a legal Green Zone" since judges and defendants are often housed there to prevent them from becoming targets in the outside world. U.S. officials hope to help set up several of these types of compounds across the country, since the ability to impart justice fairly and efficiently is seen as a key measure of progress in Iraq. But, of course, there are many hurdles still to overcome, not least of which is the lack of qualified staff to deal with a constantly growing number of detainees.

The WSJ goes inside with word that when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, it also got ahold of an "intelligence-and-military infrastructure" created by Fatah with help from the United States. This means that Hamas was able to get more weapons, but perhaps more worrisome is the possibility that it could have stumbled upon a potential treasure trove of intelligence information that could reveal details not only about Fatah's operations but also U.S. and Israeli efforts in other Arab and Muslim countries. Although U.S. officials insist that it's unlikely they got anything that was truly significant, Hamas officials says they've gathered thousands of files and they vowed to begin releasing some of them as early as today.

The WP fronts a look at how Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has faced accusations over the last 10 years that he has been less than truthful when speaking out about President Bush's behavior and his policies. Although the article focuses on the last few years, it does mention that questions were raised about Gonzales' account of why Bush was excused from jury duty in a drunk-driving case in 1996.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived at Camp David yesterday, and today he writes an op-ed in the WP, where he emphasizes that he's committed to maintaining "the historic partnership of shared purpose that unites our two countries," which is more important now than ever. "For if in the last century we fought together to save the very idea of freedom from the totalitarian threat, in this generation we defend together the ideal of freedom against the terrorist threat."

The WP takes a look at the latest inadvertent Internet celebrity, a 10-year-old boy who blurted something nonsensical to a TV news reporter ("I like turtles!"). As the video became popular on YouTube (it was also featured on Slate V last month), Jonathon Wore began receiving phone calls from reporters and companies who wanted a piece of his 17 seconds of fame. Ware turned "into that most peculiar of media creatures: the viral-video celebrity," says the Post. Although he doesn't have an agent yet, "his parents are thinking about it."

According to the early morning wire reports, Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman has died.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.