Today's Papers

Sterling Marlon

Everyone leads with June’s surprisingly low job growth numbers. The 112,000 jobs added last month are less than half the average number added in each of the first five months of the year. The papers are mostly non-committal on whether the employment figures are an aberration or a signal of a genuine economic downshift, with the New York Times offering the harshest assessment in saying the numbers leave a “broad impression of weakness.”

The papers all front the death of legendary actor Marlon Brando at the age of 80. The pieces say Brando changed acting forever with his embrace of the Method before spiraling into sad ridiculousness in his final years. The Washington Post’s story offers the most interesting details: He once roomed with the “voice of cartoon superhero Underdog” and reportedly told “drunken sailors on leave that [Streetcar Named Desire co-star Jessica] Tandy was available backstage for sexual favors.” Along with the front-page obits, the papers’ film critics all memorialize the screen legend. (Also see Slate’s David Edelstein’s take on the “largest actor of them all.”)

A front-page piece in the Los Angeles Times says an unclassified, 542-page internal Army report on the Iraq invasion criticizes an unreliable supply chain that kept needed tank parts, food, and ammunition from reaching soldiers in the war’s early stages. The paper reefers the report’s most news-worthy tidbit—that the Army “stage-managed” the toppling of the giant Saddam Hussein statue in central Baghdad. A Marine colonel first decided to knock over the statue, then asked some Iraqis for help using a loudspeaker. The report says a Marine vehicle then pulled the statue down with a chain, but not before a psychological operations team “managed to pack the vehicle with cheering Iraqi children.”

The WP says the latest round of inflammatory rhetoric from Muqtada Sadr represents an early challenge for the new Iraqi government. Sadr’s pronouncements that the June 28 transfer of authority was a sham and that his militia is “the army of Iraq” are a reversal of the “conciliatory calls for unity” the radical cleric made last week. A front-page NYT piece also reports that Iran “has quietly strengthened its presence in Iraq by providing financial backing to a range of popular Shiite Muslim groups,” including “Mr. Sadr’s movement.”

The WP fronts word that three soldiers have been charged with manslaughter for the drowning of an Iraqi prisoner who was forced into the Tigris River. The NYT goes inside with its stronger coverage, which notes that the deaths of “at least 40” detainees are now under investigation. The paper also wonders if the newly sovereign Iraq or the United States should have legal authority over U.S. soldiers who commit crimes against Iraqis. But practically, “no commander believes American troops will be subject to Iraqi justice at this time.”

An NYT front-pager laments that construction delays in Athens have made it impossible to create a security plan for the fast-approaching Summer Olympics. While security ops in Sydney and Barcelona were up and running more than a year before those cities hosted the Summer Games, the “security command center” in Athens still hasn’t been completed. Let’s hope that terrorists don’t read after the jump: “Security at the main sports complex has been lax. Two reporters without any special passes wandered around the site for more than an hour this week.”

The WP stuffs the revelation that a bomb was found in a parking garage in the run-up to last week’s NATO summit in Istanbul, Turkey. The bomb, which was secreted away inside a spare tire and connected to a cell phone, “would have had a devastating effect” if detonated, according to an unnamed U.S. official. No word on how the bomb was discovered.

Everybody reports that attorneys have filed suit on behalf of a group of Guantanamo detainees, asking that the government either release them or show there’s a legitimate reason to detain them. The habeas corpus petitions come after the Supreme Court ruling in Rasul v. Bush that 595 Guantanamo prisoners have the right to use the U.S. court system.

China’s cracking down on youth culture, according to pieces in the LAT and NYT. The NYT reefers a report that cell phone companies now must filter text messages for suspicious words and phrases. An LAT front-pager says worries about China’s defiant youth have led to the shuttering of Internet cafes and a state ban on TV anchors showing cleavage. “What they’re really afraid of is not political dissidents. It’s long hair, decadence, punks and hip-hop,” says the editor of China’s version of Seventeen magazine.

Kids as young as 6 are being touted as the best basketball players in the nation in their age group, according to a front-page WP story. The paper makes an interesting choice in deploying scandal-plagued coach Jerry Tarkanian as a mouthpiece of outrage. “That’s sick. Totally sick. They never used to have any of that,” says the ethically challenged former UNLV headman.

And from the NYT’s correction box:

A front-page article on May 16 about the formative years of Senator John Kerry misstated the role he played in an 11th-grade production of “Julius Caesar” at St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H. He was Metellus Cimber. (Cassius was played by Rory Johnston, a classmate, who thus spoke the words used in the article to reinforce Mr. Kerry’s point that he did not fit easily into the world of prep schools: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/ But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”) …