Today's Papers

Tax Cuts Cut

USA Today and the New York Timeslead with—while the WashingtonPost stuffs—Sony’s surprise decision to appoint a non-Japanese CEO for the first time. The Los Angeles Times leads with—and the Post fronts while the NYT stuffs—Hezbollah’s declaration of formal support of Syria and the group’s plan to protest foreign countries insisting Syria should back out of Lebanon. The Washington Post leads with the move by the administration and Republican lawmakers’ to remove anti-tax initiatives from the legislative agenda because of the rising costs of the Iraq war, Social Security, and Medicare.

In an emergency board meeting, Sony’s current CEO, Nobuyuki Idei, stepped down after a series of setbacks for the company and their general lagging performance in the consumer electronics business. The new CEO, Howard Stringer, was once a producer at CBS News and is currently the head of Sony Corporation of America. He is considered an unorthodox choice because he doesn’t have an engineering background and he doesn’t speak Japanese. The Wall Street Journal unsurprisingly has thorough coverage, including a comprehensive account on Stringer’s rise to the top (subscription required) and Sony’s quest for reinvention.

On Sunday Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, broke weeks of quiet by announcing an upcoming demonstration Tuesday. While the Post emphasizes that Hezbollah singled out the U.S. and France when denouncing “foreign influences” (their headline: “Hezbollah To Protest U.S. Stance on Lebanon”), the NYT specifies that the demonstration will be directed at the United Nations resolution that calls for Syria’s pullout and Hezbollah’s disarmament. Speaking to reporters, Nasrallah called U.S. demands a “photocopy” of Israeli demands.

Abandoning a GOP favorite cause is not without controversy among party leaders. Sen. Lindsey Graham and other Senate Republicans are, for the first time in years, pushing an increase in taxes to pay for a Social Security overhaul, while Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist is predictably upset by any such notion. “The deficit is the word they use because they think it sounds more acceptable than saying they want to spend more money,” he told the WP.

On its front page, the NYT chronicles serious blunders by the Pentagon resulting in problems shielding American troops with the proper armor. Among the gaffes: A contract to manufacture bulletproof vest inserts went to a researcher who had never mass-produced anything and failed to fill the order after a year; 10,000 of these bulletproof inserts from another company were lost; and the Army is still rushing to find  protective material for the 10,000 Humvees in Iraq that were not built for combat.

In Iraq over the weekend, Iraqi police raids yielded dozens of arrests of suspected insurgents thought to be involved in last Monday’s suicide bombing in Hilla. Meanwhile, hundreds of Hilla residents continued to take to the streets, calling for better protection and the capture of those responsible for the explosion.

No combat deaths were recorded on Sunday, says the NYT. But according to early morning reports, guerrillas killed 16 people Monday—including seven soldiers and five police—and injured dozens others. The attacks included mortar fire, a car bomb, and roadside bombs.

The LAT fronts a look at the Justice Department’s religious-rights unit, formed three years ago to combat what the White House calls illegal bias against religious groups. One of its more aggressive moves has been to defend the rights of an employer to use public funds to discriminate.

In Rome on Sunday Italians mourned the intelligence agent killed by U.S. fire while he and an Italian journalist fled the scene where the reporter, Giuliana Sgrena, had been held hostage by Iraqi kidnappers. Sgrena said a ransom was paid for her release and was the cause for American gunfire. “The United States doesn’t approve of this (ransom) policy, and so they try to stop it in any way possible,” she told an Italian television program Sunday.

The LAT’s reporter in Baghdad analyzes the perilous road where Sgrena and the intelligence officer, Nicola Calipari, were shot, calling the six-lane street “a battleground … a place where there are no guarantees of safety for civilians or soldiers of any nationality.”

On the NYT’s Op-Ed page, a contributor lists examples of what he calls VP Dick Cheney’s “comedic genius,” including this gem: “I’m almost through, but I could give you the whole speech again. (Laughter and applause.) That’s a joke. I’ve got to get home tonight.”