Jim Yardley"s "Farmers Being Moved Aside By China Real Estate Boom" strikes me as the strongest piece on the front page (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/08/international/asia/08china.html?hp&ex=1102568400&en=19e7f42a18fbe785&ei=5094&partner=homepage). Yardley's article begins:
For five months, Gao Lading and other angry farmers had occupied the walled compound of the Communist Party's village office. They had pitched tents, eaten rice and sweet potatoes, and waited.
It was a sit-in born of desperation. Officials from the nearby city of Yulin had seized land that had been part of the village since imperial times. The farmers had protested for nearly two years before finally seizing the village government's seat of power.
Early on Oct. 4, the government struck back. Witnesses say truckloads of paramilitary police surrounded the sleeping village. Hundreds of people inside the office compound were injured as the police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Women were attacked with cattle prods. Farmers sleeping nearby were beaten in their beds.
"They pinned them to the bed, put handcuffs on them and dragged them away," said a woman whose husband was among the 29 people arrested.
In real estate terms, the crackdown amounted to closing day. Like other land transactions in rural China, negotiations had been one-sided: Yulin officials, citing an obscure legal clause, ordered farmers to leave and offered them $60 per parcel of land. The farmers had screamed robbery.
The weakest? Philip Shenon's "House Approves Broad Overhaul of Intelligence" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/08/politics/08panel.html?hp&ex=1102568400&en=498e3b7c5c5ffe29&ei=5094&partner=homepage) is p.r. passing for reporting. Starting off on questionable grounds, it never recovers. Shenon informs us that the House voted overwhelming on the intel reform bill "sought by President Bush and the independt Sept. 11 commission . . ." There's no mention of the public shaming that Democrats such as Senators Barbara Boxer & Harry Reid or House Rep. Jane Harman have had to engage in since last weeks. In this world of hype, apparently, Bush has worked this all along. (If so, he has no power over the Congress because public shaming by Dems and Republicans like Senator Susan Collins as well as the 9-11 commission helped get this passed by making the non-House vote a public embarrassment.) Harman is quoted in the article (the sole Democrat serving in Congress that gets quoted). It reads like a White House valentine. (Or as Carl asked, "Did Elisabeth Bumiller ghost-write this pieces?"
And don't miss the front page photo of Bush in a ridiculous jacket. Jim sends in a link to Atrios, WARNING: Objectionable language is on the page I'm about to link to, (http://atrios.blogspot.com/2004_12_05_atrios_archive.html#110244507418849390) which compares it to a Star Trek uniform (I'm using Star Trek generically, it could be Deep Six Nine or something else, it's in the Star Trek family -- Jim didn't identify the show and I'm not familiar with it). And Kara felt, "In his 'I Feel Pretty"-Elton-John best mood, Bush decided to raid Cory Aquino's closet, hence the heavily padded shoulders and general uni-sex look of the jacket."