The Washington Post leads with worry among Democrats that the long and increasingly nasty nomination battle is hurting the party. The New York Times leads locally, with the acquittal of three New York police officers who killed an unarmed man with 50 bullets two years ago. The Los Angeles Times leads with U.S. officials accusing Iran of increasing its violent activities in Iraq. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with China's offer to meet with a representative of the Dalai Lama.
The Post says "African Americans and wealthy liberals" are becoming concerned about the fallout of the negative turn of the Obama-Clinton battle. The former group is represented by James Clyburn, a high-ranking Democratic congressman who is uncommitted. "If this party is perceived by people as having gone into a back room somewhere and brokered a nominee, that would not be good for our party," he told the paper, in remarks that echoed what he told the NYT a day earlier. The "wealthy donors" angle, though, is an intriguing one: According to campaign finance records released this week, 73 top Clinton donors wrote their first checks to Obama in March. None of Obama's deep-pocketed supporters, by contrast, defected to Clinton.
The LAT adds that one of Clinton's top fundraisers is switching sides, and a WSJ piece on the role of Bill Clinton in the campaign suggests a reason why his wife has not yet stepped aside despite the increasing calls to do so: "Known as a bad loser, Mr. Clinton privately buttresses his wife's drive to push on, telling her, according to aides: 'We're not quitters.' "
The shooting of Sean Bell in New York (a story also fronted by the Post) did not spark the same level of outrage as previous police shootings have, the Times notes. "This was due in part to the race of the officers—two of the three on trial were black—and to the response of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who reached out to the victim's family in a stark contrast to the response of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani after Mr. Diallo was killed," the paper writes.
Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Pentagon news conference yesterday that Iran was increasing its shipments of arms to militants in Iraq, and pointedly warned Tehran. "I have reserve capability, particularly in our Navy and our Air Force," Mullen said. "So it would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability."
The Post and NYT stuff the story, and the NYT has a detailed analysis of the U.S. administration's claims against Iran. (Were they preparing a story and put it out early based on Mullen's comments?) It finds, unsurprisingly, that there is much more nuance to the situation than President Bush and other top officials claim, and that Iranian involvement is not necessarily getting larger but instead more refined. Iran has developed "a formal and sophisticated training program" for Shiites in Iraq "that included five courses on tactics, leadership, training, commando operations and weapons and explosives. Graduates of the training program are expected to return to Iraq and train other Iraqis, the officials said," according to the Times.
The Journal notes that, even if Chinese officials and representatives of the Dalai Lama were to meet, it wouldn't necessarily bear fruit. The two sides talked six times between 2002 and 2007. "Envoys of the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama made little progress on Tibet's links to China—such as agreeing when it was, and wasn't, historically part of the country, for example —or steps to broaden Tibet's autonomy under Chinese rule," the paper writes.
The NYT also puts the story on the front page, and quotes a Chinese analyst on Beijing's possible intentions. "They want the Dalai Lama to help them relieve pressure before the Olympics. But is it a sincere move, or just a public relations move?" he asks.
Also in the papers… In China, there is no reprieve from bulldozers making way for Olympic facilities, the Post finds. And its pilots are badly overworked, says the LAT. Texas officials trying to take care of the 462 children seized at a renegade Mormon ranch are trying hard not to expose them to too much culture shock, the NYT finds. The makers of a new documentary film on Abu Ghraib paid some interviewees and that has provoked controversy, the NYT reports. New discoveries in Afghanistan show that oil painting developed in Asia 800 years before it did in Europe, the LAT reports. The NYT has a feature on upscale nudist vacations, remarkable especially for the photo slide show which entertainingly depicts all sorts of naked people without running askance of the values of a family newspaper. People with contact lenses, Lasik surgery, or perfectly fine vision are increasingly wearing non-prescription eyeglasses because they're cool, the Journal reports. And the LAT has a front-page feature on the father of a soldier killed in Iraq, who "knows his son's story sounds like one you've heard before. He knows you probably don't care to read about another dead soldier. He wants you to pay attention anyway." And you should—it's a heartbreaking read.