The Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal business box, and New York Timesall lead with GM’s announcement that it’s phasing out 25,000 U.S.-based workers by 2008. GM crowed that it will save $2.5 billion per year. Butanalysts weren’t impressed, saying the move doesn’t really address GM’s larger problem: Its cars suck. “Only new product can save GM,” said one industry observer. The Washington Postleads with the closing arguments in the landmark civil case against cigarette companies, during which Justice Department lawyers pulled a bizarro move and asked for only 8 percent of the penalty it had been expected to seek. “We were very surprised,” said a tobacco industry lawyer. “They’ve gone down from $130 billion to $10 billion with absolutely no explanation. It’s clear the government hasn’t thought through what it’s doing.” The LAT also covers the tobacco rollback in its business section. USA Todayleads with the escalating divorce rate in the military. It was up 78 percent last year and at more than three times the 2000 rate.
The Journal alone goes high with the confab between Prime Minister Blair and President Bush. Blair has pushed the president to seriously ramp up aid to Africa. And the WSJ says Blair only got “a bit” of his agenda addressed. Blair has called for developed nations to pony up $25 billion annually. The president promised only $700 million in emergency aid. And as the NYT notes, even that money isn’t really new; it has “already been appropriated by Congress.” The Times editorial page’s verdict: “CRUMBS FOR AFRICA.” Meanwhile, the Post doesn’t exactly nail it: “BUSH, BLAIR AGREE ON AID FOR AFRICAN FAMINE RELIEF.”
A front-page NYT piece details how a White House official tweaked government reports on global warming to play down the threat. The official is the former lead man in the oil industry’s fight against greenhouse gas regulations. He’s also trained as a lawyer, not a scientist. In one draft, he simply crossed out a paragraph that dealt with melting glaciers.
The Post off-leads a poll showing ever-dwindling support for President Bush and particularly for the war in Iraq. Sixty-one percent said Bush and Republican leaders are not “making good on solving the nation’s problems.” And for the first time, a majority—52 percent—said the war has not “contributed to the long-term security of the United States.”
The WP’s poll piecetakes some cheap shots, or more accurately, keeps context on the down-low. For instance, it announces up high that nearly three-quarters of respondents said the number of casualties in Iraq is unacceptable. Sounds like news. What the piece doesn’t say is that there’s been no dramatic spike. In fact, it’s only two percentage points higher than a year ago, when 71 percent of respondents said the same thing.
The NYT’s off-lead says the CIA is tossing around the idea of loosening its security procedures so that more foreign-language experts can be hired. The CIA has long ruled out hiring people who have family abroad. As a result, it’s had to skip hiring many (multilingual) first-generation Americans. The WP detailed the problem back in February.
The NYT fronts an overview of the Pentagon weapons-procurement process gone wild. The 80 major programs under development are a total of $300 billion over budget. “We’re No. 1 in the world in military capabilities,” said the head of GAO, Congress’s watchdog arm. “But on the business side, the Defense Department gets a D—giving them the benefit of the doubt.” The Pentagon’s FUBAR procurement process is something of an evergreen. And frankly, the Times doesn’t advance the ball.
As everybody mentions,three near-simultaneous suicide cars bombs in northern Iraqi this morning killed about 20 people. Another suicide car bomb in Baghdad wounded nearly 30. In the southern town of Basra, the body of a Sunni cleric was found, with signs of torture. The Post emphasizes that a Sunni politician says he’s talked with two guerrilla groups that are apparently looking to negotiate with the government.
The LAT for some reason only teases a fascinating but murky incident in Iraq during which some American security contractors appear to have mistakenly fired on Marines, who then tossed the roughly two dozen contractors in jail for a few days, where apparently they didn’t get the best treatment. The contractors’ lawyer said they were stripped and “slammed around.” As they were being tossed about, one of the Marines reportedly shouted, “How does it feel to be a big rich contractor now?” The contractors say they never fired on the Marines, who in turn say they never abused the contractors. (Last year, Slate’s Phil Carter looked at the “legal murkiness” that contractors operate in.) It’s clear that the LAT has independent reporting on the story, but FYI, a site called CorpWatch had a more detailed piece yesterday.
The LAT’s metro section says the FBI has arrested a father and son near Sacramento, accusing the son of having attended an “al-Qaida training camp” in Pakistan.
The NYT and LAT front the death of actress Anne Bancroft. Best known for her role in The Graduate, her career spanned five decades. She was born Anna Maria Louisa Italiano and won an Academy Award in 1962 for The Miracle Worker. Bancroft was 73.