Today's Papers

Comity Central

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and USA Today all lead with House Republicans voting to repeal their own loosening of the ethics committee’s rules. Since Democrats had effectively shut the committee down after the rules change, last night’s vote clears the way for a probe of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. “I’m willing to step back,” said House Speaker Dennis Hastert. “We need to move forward with an ethics process.” The Los Angeles Timesleads with Mexico’s President Vicente Fox sacking his attorney general—or more precisely, “accepting his resignation”—and suggesting that Mexico City’s leftish mayor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, currently facing indictment on what seem to be trivial charges, will be allowed to run for president. “My government will not obstruct anyone from participating in the coming federal election,” said Fox. The moves against López Obrador have pushed his popularity to new heights; he’s a runaway candidate in most polls. The Washington Post, which previewed the GOP’s walk-back yesterday,goes local on nearly the whole front page and leads with the arrest of a suspect in about 40 D.C.-area arsons.

The NYT says inside that a few dozen Republican lawmakers who received money from DeLay’s PAC also contributed to his defense fund. There’s nothing illegal about that, but it could have been used as a way to get around legal limits on individual contributions to the fund. “I think the House ethics committee would frown on the practice,” said one Republican elections lawyer.

The LAT and NYT both front Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim Jafari (finally) submitting a proposed Cabinet. The national assembly still has to approve the list, and as the NYT emphasizes, some Iraqi politicians insisted there’s no deal yet. Meanwhile, Jafari declined to publicly release the names of the proposed Cabinet members.

The WP stuffs Jafari’s announcement and instead fronts the assassination of a Shiite member of the national assembly. Gunmen confronted her in her home. She had survived two previous attempts.

A Page One Journal piece profiles Jafari and his Shiite Dawa party, detailing how the latter has gone from being on the State Department’s terrorist list to a seemingly moderate party that has what appears to be a genuinely solid working relationship with the U.S.

One American GI and eight Afghan police were killed in two attacks near the Pakistan border. 

The NYT goes above-the-fold with a new Army interrogation manual that bans many of the practices top commanders once approved in Iraq, such as sleep deprivation, stripping prisoners, and the use of police dogs. The new manual goes into a lot of detail, listing “specific yeses and noes,” said one intel officer. As the NYT mentions far down, the Baltimore Sun first flagged the manual’s existence last month.

The NYT fronts the House passing a bill that would make it a federal crime for anybody to accompany an underage girl to another state for an abortion without parental consent. The bill has been backed by the White House and will likely go to a vote within months in the Senate, where Majority Leader Bill Frist has also backed it.

The Journal says inside—as the WP mentioned in passing yesterday—that the administration is contemplating trying to force a full Senate vote on the nomination of John Bolton even if the Foreign Relations Committee doesn’t approve him. That kind of move was last used about 20 years ago.

The LAT and WSJ flag the introduction of a bipartisan Senate bill that would mandate the creation of an independent office for drug safety. As the Journal explains, the bill would also allow the FDA to actually order warnings on drug labels, rather than negotiate them with drug companies as happens now.

The NYT’s Neil MacFarquhar files from Egypt, where pro-democracy organizers tried to put together protests in 14 cities. It wasn’t exactly a smashing success—turnout was largely on the hundreds—a reflection perhaps of the massive presence of security forces, who stopped people from gathering and briefly detained “more than 100.” The protests came after Egyptian President Mubarak seemed to kick off his re-election campaign, such as it is, with a six-hour interview with a prominent Egyptian journalist who asked such zingers as, “How come you never know fear?”