Mexico's Ongoing Dirty War
The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox lead withdeveloping nations refusing to sign on to the long-term targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions that were proposed by the Group of 8 industrial nations. President Obama, along with the other G-8 members who are meeting in Italy, proposed broad goals to carry out a 50 percent cut in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with industrial nations making a steeper 80 percent reduction. But the group of leading developing nations, led by China and India, said they can't commit to such long-term goals unless industrial nations go first and agree to midterm targets.
The Washington Postleads with a shocking look at the claims that the Mexican army has been carrying out massive human rights abuses in its fights against drug cartels. Human rights groups and residents of areas where the cartels are particularly active say that the army's tactics are getting increasingly brutal and include torture, illegal detention, and forced disappearances. The government recognizes there have been problems but say these are isolated incidents. USA Todayleads with a new Medicare analysis that shows there's a large difference in the death rates as a result of relatively common ailments among hospitals across the country. Patients also frequently end up back in the hospital within 30 days of being treated. Unsurprisingly, a separate analysis carried out by the paper reveals that the hospitals with higher death rates are concentrated in the country's poorest and smallest counties.
Coming five months before the big U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen, the impasse on the issue that was evident yesterday shows how there are still plenty of divisions between developed and developing nations. The developing nations say they shouldn't sacrifice their economic growth to fix a problem created by the industrial countries. But the industrial countries say any agreement would be meaningless if developing nations don't sign on. It's unlikely that any agreement with developing nations will be able to be reached in the coming days, particularly considering that President Hu Jintao of China had to leave Italy to deal with the deadly violence in the western province of Xinjiang. Still, the G-8 nations embraced the 80 percent cut for industrial nations and declared that they would try to prevent global temperatures from increasing more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above average preindustrial levels.
The WP gathered some rather gruesome details of torture and abuse by the Mexican army, including electric shocks, asphyxiation, and beatings, to name a few. Soldiers have been raiding homes without warrants and detaining suspects on military bases, which is illegal. Families of those who are detained are often not informed of their plight for days or weeks. The apparent rise in abuse seems to coincide with "the savagery unleashed by the cartels," as the WP puts it, when the military took over the fight against the drug traffickers in 2006. And much of the abuse from the military has taken place in areas of the country where the cartels have made a point of leaving dismembered bodies of soldiers and police on the streets to scare off anyone who might dare go after them. The United States has largely encouraged the use of the army to fight the cartels, but now some are warning that the human rights abuses could cost the country aid dollars. Many Mexicans think that's rather rich, considering it comes from a country that tortured prisoners for years.
The NYT carried out an analysis of the transportation projects that have been approved as part of the federal stimulus package and discovered that the largest metropolitan areas are getting the short end of the stick. More than half of the $26.6 billion that was set aside for transportation projects has been allocated, and the 100 largest metropolitan areas are getting less than half of the money, even though they contribute three-quarters of the country's economic activity and consequently have much worse traffic jams. But metropolitan areas are losing out to rural areas, which is no surprise to experts. "We have a long history of shortchanging cities and metropolitan areas and allocating transportation money to places where few people live," one said.
USAT also did its own analysis of the stimulus package funds that have been delivered to the local level and found that counties that voted for Obama have received twice as much money per person than those that voted for Sen. John McCain. Sounds rather shocking, but experts say there's almost no chance this was deliberate. "Even if they wanted to, I don't think the administration has enough people in place yet to actually do that," one government watchdog said. Plus, this imbalance isn't exactly new since the counties that voted for Obama received more government aid from 2005 through 2007.
The papers go inside with claims by seven Democratic lawmakers that CIA Director Leon Panetta told lawmakers that the agency "concealed significant actions" from Congress since 2001. In a letter released last night, the lawmakers said the CIA had "misled members" on unspecified matters, which no one would discuss because they're classified. Separately, House intelligence committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes sent a letter to the committee's top Republican, saying that CIA officials "affirmatively lied" to lawmakers and a full committee investigation might be necessary.
USAT fronts a look at how the number of roadside bomb attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan broke another record in June for the fourth-straight month. There were 736 incidents with roadside bombs in June, compared with 308 in the same month last year and 234 in 2007. The number of troops wounded by these attacks in June reached 166, a 73 percent increase from May, which was a record. In Iraq, the trend is going the other direction as there were 260 incidents in June, compared with 602 in the same month last year and 2,588 in June 2007.
The NYT's Roger Cohen investigates the day's most important question: "Is Roger Federer part of a Matrix-like artificial reality or is he flesh and blood?"
Feel like getting mad this morning? Then head on over to the WP's Style page to once again see how there's never a shortage of people finding, um, creative ways to make money. And people gullible enough to hand over their hard-earned cash. Meet Anne Loehr, a "business coach" who teaches executive-types how to talk to "Gen Ys" (that's Generation Y, to you). She hands out cheat sheets, gives tips, and tells people what makes this group of people oh so different. Among her pearls of wisdom? "People say to me, 'Why do they talk like that?' Because they grew up on reality TV. Okay? It's not good, it's not bad. That's what they grew up on. They think it's okay to talk like that."
Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.