Today's Papers

From Badr to Worse

The New York Timesleads with top Iraqi officials, including the prime minister, saying they’re A-OK with the continued existence of independently operated Shiite and Kurdish militia. The comments are unlikely to make Sunnis happy, particularly since many believe the Badr forces are behind the recent assassinations of Sunni clerics. Meanwhile, Sunni leaders threatened to pull out of the constitution-drafting committee, saying they are underrepresented. USA Todayleads with and the Washington Postoff-leads a government report concluding that the FAA’s inspection system hasn’t kept up with airlines’ increasingly cost-cutting habits. The Los Angeles Times leads with the latest from the investigation into suspected Islamic militants outside of Sacramento. Five people have now been detained. There are few details available, and investigators cautioned they don’t have info that the men were planning specific attacks. The WP leads with the Senate—per last month’s filibuster deal—confirming Janice Rogers Brown to appeals court. Brown, a California Supreme Court justice, was nominated by President Bush two years ago and was one of his most controversial picks. A facile-feelingNYT piece looks at some of Brown’s more outrageous statements—she has referred to some New Deal regulations as a “triumph of our socialist revolution.” Meanwhile, an LAT profile Tuesday concluded that Brown’s rulings in California were “less predictably conservative than expected.”

The Wall Street Journal says up high that this year’s federal deficit is, surprisingly, on track to come in at $350 billion, about $75 billion less than projected earlier this year. “These are the good ol’ days. These are the best of times,” said the head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. “After this, it gets worse.”

The military announced that four U.S. service members were killed across Iraq. TP doesn’t see it mentioned in the papers, but two were apparently killed in Fallujah. Three civilians were killed by a car bomb in Baquba, and two police officials were killed elsewhere.

The government report on the FAA found that a full quarter of the agency’s inspections were simply never completed. As the Post notes (and USAT doesn’t), part of the problem seems to be budget cuts at the FAA, which will have 300 fewer inspectors this year.

While there hasn’t been a major crash in three and a half years—a record—the report details, as USAT puts it, “an increase in minor accidents on the ground involving jets operated by an undisclosed airline seeking bankruptcy protection.” There’s no explanation for why the airline got to stay anonymous.

Two GIs were killed and eight wounded by a mortar attack in eastern Afghanistan. The men were hit while unloading a chopper. The NYT calls it the first attack of its kind in the U.S.’s three years there. A piece inside the Post looks at rising number of attacks by the Taliban.

The NYT off-leads a follow-up from the Justice Department’s shocker decision in the ongoing tobacco trial to seek just $10 billion for smoking cessation programs rather than $120 billion as had been expected. Even the judge in the civil suit was taken aback, saying yesterday, “Perhaps it suggests that additional influences have been brought to bear on what the government’s case is.” Despite all the excitement and big play, the Times points out in the eighth paragraph that the judge can “impose financial penalties of any size, no matter what the government has requested.”

Meanwhile, the Post, which led with the tobacco suit yesterday, says the government appears to have told two of its own witnesses to ease up on the tobacco industry. “I was told my testimony went beyond what the department was comfortable with,” said one of the witnesses, an anti-tobacco activist. The story is on A4.

Sons of Beaches … The LAT (inexplicably) stuffs the latest from Malibu’s Broad Beach, where there have long been battles between public beachgoers and waterfront home-owners. The law says that all sand up to the mean high-tide mark is public property and thus open to anybody who wants to hang there. That whole notion of public access grates on residents—who include Goldie Hawn, Steven Spielberg, and Dustin Hoffman. So, the neighbors got together and did what self-respecting liberals would do: They devised a redistribution plan—for sand. They hired bulldozers to “scoop up tons of public beach” and build big berms in its place. The local coastal commission’s chief of enforcement described herself as “shocked.”