Both USA Today and the Washington Post lead with the Congressional Budget Office’s report, to be released today, which, as the papers anticipated last week, says the flagging economy and the tax cut will force the U.S. government to tap into the Social Security surplus in several of the oncoming fiscal years and even before the current fiscal year ends Sept. 30. The report also tops the Wall Street Journal’s front-page business news box. USAT’s take emphasizes that the Bush administration had promised a hands-off approach to Social Security funds, but that the Bush budget director yesterday referred to that stance as “symbolic.” The WP lead reminds high up that “politicians in both parties have repeatedly” made the Social Security pledge. The New York Times and Los Angeles Times lead with an Israeli helicopter-launched missile attack on a West Bank building that succeeded in its goal of killing a Palestinian radical leader. (This is also fronted by the WP.) Both papers go high with the U.S. State Department spokesman’s remarks that such targeted killings don’t stop the Mideast violence “but are only inflaming an already volatile situation. …” The NYT notes high that the spokesman went on to say that Israel must take steps “to alleviate the pressure, the hardship and the humiliations of the Palestinian population” and has an unnamed senior State Department official explain that this was a reference to Israel’s purchase of fewer Palestinian goods and its restrictions on Palestinians’ travel.
Both Mideast leads have on-the-ground reporting about how scary the missile attack was for the civilians, including children, living in the building, some of them American citizens. The NYT quotes State’s spokesman saying, “we were deeply troubled” by this aspect of the attack. Both papers say that the attack set off Palestinian shooting in the town of Beit Jala and that the Israelis responded with heavy weapons including tanks. The LAT suggests that the Israelis might keep them there, which would represent “the most significant reoccupation of Palestinian territory since the Oslo agreement.”
The LAT and NYT front a federal appeals court ruling that the University of Georgia admissions policy under which nonwhite applicants were awarded bonus points is unconstitutional. The LAT notes that the system awards points for nonracial characteristics, too–such as having a parent who went to UG.
The papers report that a low-flying, slow-flying unmanned radar- and camera-carrying reconnaissance aircraft (called a “Predator”) was lost while being operated by the U.S. over the southern Iraq no-fly zone. The Iraqis claim they shot it down, but the Pentagon is not ruling out a malfunction as the cause. The Predator was unarmed, but the WP says that only recently, for the first time ever, one fired a missile in a test that damaged its target, a tank.
The WP business front reports that, with the help of big layoffs at Toshiba (the subject of a NYT story), Japan’s unemployment has just hit 5 percent, the highest level there since World War II. The story quotes one economist specializing in Japan as predicting the rate would come close to 6 percent within the next two or three years. The U.S. rate, reminds the paper, is 4.5 percent.
The NYT fronts, and the USAT sports front reefers, word that Little League officials, prompted by a Sports Illustrated reporter working on a story, are investigating whether a pitcher for a Bronx team who recently played in the competition leading up to the Little League World Series was too old to compete. According to one birth document circulating, the boy–who struck out 46 batters in three starts with pitches clocked at 70 mph–is 14, not the league maximum 12.
Your tax dollars at work, I. The LAT front reports that on Monday, interior secretary Gale Norton designated the Fresno municipal dump, the oldest sanitary landfill in U.S., as a national historic landmark. The paper reports that Norton wrote that the dump, like the other sites to which she just granted this status, “underscore[s] our heritage and tell[s] stories of a period and events in our history.” One complication: the dump was previously found to be leeching methane and volatile compounds into the groundwater, which has already earned it another federal status, that of a Superfund priority cleanup site.
Your tax dollars at work, II. The NYT runs an AP report inside saying that a suburban Phoenix school, the Astrological Institute, which teaches how to write horoscopes and give advice about the future, has won accreditation from a federally recognized body, which means it can seek Dept. of Education federal grants and loans for its students. The story quotes the school’s founder on why the accreditation came through: “This was a very good time.”