The Washington Postleads with, and none of the other papers front, the discovery of peace activist Tom Fox’s body in Baghdad. The 54-year-old Virginian was taken hostage last November and speculation of his death had increased when he did not appear in a tape aired earlier this week that showed the other three people who were taken with him. The Los Angeles Timesleads with the Friday afternoon resignation of Gale Norton, the first female secretary of the Interior. Norton’s five-year leadership of the department ended in controversy as a federal investigation is underway over her department’s close dealings with über-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Throughout her tenure, environmentalists criticized her advocacy of energy exploration on public land as well as her move to reopen Yellowstone National Park to snowmobiles. Both the WP and the New York Times choose to stuff the resignation.
The NYT leads with the news that (surprise) Congress seems to have lost interest in tightening lobbying regulations. Even though the measure had momentum at the height of the Abramoff scandal, other issues have now monopolized the attention of lawmakers who do not seem to be in a rush to do anything on the issue. If a member of Congress is indicted in the Abramoff investigation, reform might once again take center stage, but for now there is a growing sense that tighter laws are not needed.
The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with President Bush saying that he regrets how the ports deal was handled and that he is concerned about the message it sends to U.S. allies, especially in the Middle East. Trade talks between the UAE and the United States were postponed in what was largely seen as an effect of the collapsed deal.
The WSJ takes advantage of the ports controversy to say that the globalization of business has run into some major roadblocks. Besides the Dubai Ports World kerfuffle, the paper also mentions other countries that want to put the brakes on foreign investment, including Korea and Bolivia. If this trend continues, it could threaten the world economy, and the United States would be particularly vulnerable because of its dependence on foreign investment.
As further fallout from the debate over DP World, the Post reports that House Republicans are planning legislation to give Congress some sort of oversight over all purchases of U.S. businesses by foreigners.
The WSJ points out that having to sell off its U.S. holdings may not really hurt DP World since it wasn’t the most valuable part of its acquisition. The paper even goes as far as to suggest that it might be difficult to find a willing buyer.
There is no denying that the transfer of its U.S. assets will be a complicated process, and the Post emphasizes that no one is quite sure how it’s going to work and it is unclear whether there will be an outright sale, or if DP World will merely give away management responsibilities of its U.S. operations.
The NYT says that the ports scandal could be a sign of the difficulty that President Bush will face in getting the approval of the Republican Congress for his initiatives as the midterm elections approach. But all this talk of a “rebellion” doesn’t impress the NYT’s editorial page: “The Republicans dumped the ports deal into the harbor because of xenophobia and electoral tactics … the idea that a happy few are charging the White House ramparts is ridiculous.”
The WP goes inside with the judge in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial warning the prosecutors that they are “treading on very delicate legal ground.” As they wrapped up the first week, analysts believe the judge’s statement was meant to emphasize that prosecutors should focus on the lies that Moussaoui told the FBI, rather than his failure to warn them of the impending 9/11 attack. There is no precedent for sentencing someone to death for failing to speak up.
All the papers go inside with the latest from Iraq, where 19 Iraqis and one U.S. Marine died in bombings, while some clerics called for calm and forgiveness. Everyone mentions the Time magazine interview with U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad where he proposed that Iraq’s leaders should hold a summit to work out a coalition.
The LAT fronts a look at the increasing tensions between Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, who is Kurdish, and its interim prime minister, Ibrahim Jafari, who is a Shiite. They each try to claim true leadership of the country and often have petty fights to try and demonstrate their power.
The NYT mentions the Palestinian Authority’s claim that it is facing a budget crisis. Even though it has received $70 million in the past two weeks, it is not enough to cover all of February’s salaries. The Palestinian economic minister said it “remains a mystery” how they will pay the March salaries.
The WP fronts the chairman of the Federal Election Commission claiming “there is a growing sense” that in order for a presidential candidate to be taken seriously he or she will have to raise $100 million by the end of 2007. Although some say the figure is far too high, many do believe these upcoming elections will mark the end of public funding for campaigns and its accompanying spending limits.
The WP fronts, and the NYT goes inside with, the arrest of President Bush’s former top domestic policy adviser on charges that he stole goods from several different retailers in Maryland. Claude A. Allen, who resigned last month and was considered a rising star in conservative circles, is accused of conducting several fraudulent refunds totaling more than $5,000 in the past year. Slate contributor Rachel Shteir explains how refund scams work and why they’re a favorite of shoplifters.
The LAT fronts a profile of Bettie Page, one of the most famous pinups from the 1950s, who “helped usher in the sexual revolution of the 1960s” with her provocative photographs. Although she is now 82 and her picture hasn’t been in a magazine for almost half a century, she claims to be more popular now than when she first modeled. The chairman of CMG, the company that markets her image, says Page “has an international following. Only Marilyn Monroe rivals her in terms of Internet traffic.” Unfortunately, the usually reclusive Page would not allow the LAT to photograph her face because “I want to be remembered as I was when I was young and in my golden times.”