Today's Papers

No Farm, No Foul

The Los Angeles Times leads with word from Geneva that the U.S. and other members of the World Trade Organization agreed today to major cuts in farm export subsidies. Fronting the trade accord, the Washington Post leads instead with President Bush and John Kerry stumping across swing states Ohio and Pennsylvania, where the talk is jobs, jobs, jobs. The New York Times stuffs its Ohio coverage, reefers the WTO, and leads that the federal agency insuring company pensions is facing major airline industry bankruptcies and defaults, which could result in another multibillion-dollar taxpayer bailout.

Under the WTO compromise, which comes nearly a year after Cancun negotiations broke down, rich nations will eventually slash subsidies for farmers and developing nations will reduce tariffs on agricultural and industrial goods, thus lowering the barriers to global trade. However, as the WP points out, the “deal leaves a huge amount of detail to be negotiated later, and negotiators here fought hard to keep many of their commitments as vague as possible.” While the Post doesn’t mention Kerry’s response, the LAT notes at the least that his campaign hadn’t yet reacted. For its part, the NYT includes the congressional Democrats’ response: Too little, too late.

Mired in bankruptcy, United seems to be the least solvent airline—and if it sheds its pension plans, competitors might be forced to follow suit. The federal price tag on such a doomsday scenario? A cool $31 billion. Evidently airline employees are so worried that they’re retiring in droves: In June, 300 Delta pilots traded in their wings, up from a monthly average of 30.

The WP’s lead doesn’t get interesting until after the jump, where the paper outlines the contours of the political battlefield like a general standing over his map of the world. While a lot of the analysis basically recycles CW (Edwards’ addition to the ticket has put North Carolina into play; the Dems won’t get burned again at the last minute in West Virginia; a rift in the Miami Cuban community over new Bush policies could help Kerry), the piece does include a few lesser-known tidbits (Oregon’s anti-tax revolt could be Kerry’s toughest issue there; the influx of Hispanics and young families into Arizona is dramatically expanding its workforce; due to Bush’s inability to woo Hispanics, New Mexico will be down-to-the-wire). Oh, and there’s also that tiny, inconsequential detail that no Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio.

But that won’t be the only place Bush directs his resources over the next few weeks. According to the NYT’s off-lead, the president intends to campaign furiously throughout August, “no longer the slow and sleepy month it once was in presidential campaigns.” Looking to spend upward of $30 million on TV ads, Bush will vivisect Kerry’s 20 years (and more than 6,000 votes) in the Senate. Campaign finance rules dictate that Kerry can spend only $75 million between now and Election Day, so he plans to sit on his cash for the next few weeks.

For a peek into Iraq’s inquisition-style judiciary, read the NYT’s above-the-fold profile of Fuaad Ahmed al-Jawary, the “Johnnie Cochran of the insurgency.” A lawyer for criminals of every stripe, including some who have attacked U.S. troops, Jawary was asked if he had ever given bribes. “Not bribes,” he said, smiling. “Gifts.”

According to a reefered NYT piece, fighting has intensified over the past several months in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has amped up its recruiting. Twenty-three American G.I.s have already been killed, almost double the 12 U.S. combat deaths during all of last year. In a telling development, Doctors Without Borders has pulled out of the country.

The WP fronts a must-read profile of China’s Southern Metropolis Daily, a fledgling Communist tabloid that waned in popularity after the arrest of editor Cheng Yizhong. With a Bonnie Fuller-like touch, Cheng transformed it into the thickest, most expensive daily in China by publishing controversial exposes of police brutality and the SARS cover-up. Such unflinching reporting did not go unnoticed by the government, which jailed Cheng in March without charging him with a crime. “What happened to Cheng highlights a momentous and complex struggle now underway,” notes the paper, “between the country’s increasingly independent-minded and profit-driven state media and entrenched interests inside the ruling Communist Party.”

Coincidentally, the Times has its own front-page anatomy ofa Communist regime. One stat that immediately jumps out is that even as China’s economy grew by 9 percent this year, the number of people earning less than $75 per year increased for the first time in 25 years—by 800,000. And in no instance does it seem as tragic than that of Zheng Qingming, an 18-year-old student who walked in front of a speeding train because he couldn’t afford $80 in school testing fees. Observes the paper, “Peasants like Qingming were once the core constituency of the Communist Party. Now, they are being left behind.”

Citing “European investigators,” the LAT off-leads that Iran has harbored al-Qaida operatives suspected of plotting attacks in Europe and the Middle East. “Everything they can do to trouble the Americans, without going too far, they do it,” says a French official. Since the article concerns U.S. policy—not to mention U.S. national security—why hasn’t a single CIA, State Department, or White House official been contacted for comment?

In its usual Sunday Styles zeitgeist alert, the NYT decides that sexy wetsuits are the new black: “Until recently, wet suits made most wearers—with the exceptions of surf gods like Kelly Slater and the women of ‘Baywatch’—look like misshapen sea mammals. The problem was neoprene, a material that ‘doesn’t lie,’ as [Surfer magazine editor Sam] George put it. The suits clung too tightly in some places, calling attention to flaws, and were too baggy in others. … That is no longer true. Neoprene may not lie, but designers have figured out how to use it to cheat, so the latest wet suits for both sexes enhance their wearers’ bodies.”

If the NYT is to be believed (TP is slightly dubious), then for possibly the first time in his life, John Kerry is actually ahead of the fashion curve.