Today's Papers

U.S. Develops Small Growth

USA Today leads with President Bush’s comment yesterday to a veterans’ convention that he’s “deeply worried” about the impact of the sluggish U.S. economy (see below) on working Americans. The New York Times’ top national story also keys off Bush’s convention speech but focuses more on his vow that neither the economic slowdown nor a decreased federal budget surplus will deter him from increasing federal spending on the military–including an investment in a national missile defense–and on education. The top national story at the Washington Post is the government’s latest quantification of the state of the economy: During the second quarter, it grew at a 0.2 percent annual rate, not the 0.7 percent originally estimated. This is also the top story in the Wall Street Journal’s front-page business news box. The Los Angeles Times, which fronts the economy, leads with the pullout last night, which nobody else fronts, of Israeli tanks and troops from the Palestinian town of Beit Jala, after a two-day engagement with Palestinian forces there. The paper says that the move, conducted in concert with Yasser Arafat’s order for his gunmen to hold their fire, came under U.S. and European pressure, but it also reports that Israel’s presence in the town had not, before the negotiated cease-fire, achieved its goal of suppressing sniper and mortar attacks on a nearby Jewish settlement.

The USAT lead emphasizes President Bush’s use of the economy’s troubles as a justification for his 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut, and contexts his expression of sympathy for workers with his father’s politically costly failure to do the same when the U.S. experienced a recession in the early ‘90s.

The NYT lead reports that the top Democrats in both houses of Congress sent Bush a letter urging him to specify how he intends to pay for the increases, an effort, says the paper, at clearly trying to tempt him into going first in describing possible cuts, and in declaring that the Social Security hands-off pledge might have to be violated.

The WP economy story notes high that the revised numbers show the second quarter to have been the United States’ weakest performance in eight years, under the headline “U.S. ECONOMIC GROWTH DROPS TO ALMOST ZERO.” The NYT’s fronter headline is “DATA SUGGESTS WEAK GROWTH, NOT A RECESSION,” and the LAT’s is “U.S. AVOIDS FALLING INTO A RECESSION.” In a classic bit of hedge-speak, the WSJ sees the numbers as “quelling fears of an imminent recession, at least for now.”

The WP reports inside that the AMA has found some intriguing financial sponsors for $675,000 of its $1 million campaign to educate physicians about its ethical guidelines against accepting gifts from drug companies–nine drug companies.

The LAT goes long inside with a federally funded study out of Johns Hopkins to be released today that finds that criminals have a much harder time getting weapons in states that require gun licensing and registration than in states that don’t require both.

The USAT “Money” top reports that the increasingly interactive Web has made a hacking technique called “cross-site scripting” more and more of a threat. The paper reports that using the technique, earlier this month an Internet security expert was able to get to credit card data behind Hotmail filters–using just one line of code.

Both the NYT and WP run wire stories reporting that heavily armed Australian commandos have seized control of a Norwegian ship that was defying orders not to bring into Australian waters the 438 (mostly Afghan) refugees it had rescued at sea.

In a WP op-ed, the former head of CIA counterterrorism argues that not only is Israel’s policy of assassinating key terror players wrong, it also doesn’t reduce terrorism. He observes that both Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad became even deadlier after Israel killed their leaders.

When the militaries of two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, get in their third firefight in the last six days, with a single-day death toll of 21, where do the papers play it? Well, the only thing Today’s Papers could find was the brief wire story the WP runs–on Page 24.

The NYT reports that the FAA said yesterday the pilot of the plane that crashed in the Bahamas last weekend killing himself, the singer Aaliyah, and seven others, was not authorized to fly it. The story also says the company that owned the aircraft has been previously cited for safety violations, and that the dead pilot had recently pleaded no contest in Florida to cocaine and theft charges and was sentenced to three years’ probation, but had not yet reported this to the FAA. Question the reader is naturally left with: “Why doesn’t the court have to report this to the FAA?”

The WP reports that one current and two former Veterans Affairs employees in Georgia have been charged with embezzling close to $6 million from the VA in order to buy houses, cars, antiques, a Barbie doll collection, a hovercraft, and a submarine.

Yeah, but check the employee parking lot for hovercraft. The WSJ and WP both report that some 40,000 federal tax returns and other tax documents are missing from a privately operated facility, and, since many of these were accompanied by payments, so is about $800 million. The stories say destruction or concealment is suspected, rather than theft.