Today's Papers

Lemon Aides on the Stand

The Washington Post leads with (while the New York Times off-leads, the Wall Street Journal fronts, and the Los Angeles Times stuffs) the guilty plea of Tony C. Rudy, a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and violate lobbying restrictions. The NYT leads with (while the WP refers, the LAT runs inside, and the WSJ fronts) auto-parts manufacturer Delphi seeking to throw out some of its labor agreements, allowing the beleaguered company to cut 20,000 American jobs and slash hourly wages. The LAT leads with its grim assessment of the immigration legislation winding through Congress, highlighting the way the issue has polarized Republicans. The WSJ’s world-wide newsbox leads with reports that visiting Congressmen have informed Iraqi officials that continued U.S. aid hinges on the quick formation of a unity government.

Rudy is charged with taking thousands of dollars in gifts from former lobbyist Jack Abramoff in exchange for influencing legislation worked on by DeLay. All the papers make a big deal out of Rudy being the second former DeLay aide (after former press secretary Michael Scanlon) to plead guilty in the ongoing Justice Department investigation into Ambramoff’s influence peddling. The difference comes in how the papers interpret what the plea does (and doesn’t) say about Rudy’s old boss. The NYT carefully notes that the plea doesn’t suggest DeLay did anything wrong or even that he knew about Rudy’s misdoings. The WP however, says that even though the plea doesn’t accuse DeLay of doing anything naughty, it does mention him (as “Representative #2”) being part of that universe where Ambramoff worked his magic, something no previous plea agreement has done. The LAT casts the entire plea bargain as part of a larger effort to bring down lawmakers, possibly including DeLay. All the stories are filled with a sense of anticipation—Rudy’s plea is all well and good for the papers, but they’re clearly hungry for bigger fish. The WP reports the Justice Department investigation could end up implicating up to half a dozen members of Congress, plus various staffers. Rudy is already scheduled to testify against former GSA Chief of Staff David H. Safavian. And the hunt goes on.

Little more than a week after General Motors announced buyouts for 130,000 employees, auto-parts giant Delphi announced labor troubles of its own. Delphi, formerly a part of GM, had 13,000 of its workers covered in the GM buyouts. Continuing bankruptcy woes, however, forced it to announce its intentions to dissolve some union contracts, cut jobs and wages, and close or sell 21 of its 29 U.S. plants. With the United Auto Workers union threatening to strike, GM is bracing itself for a possibly crippling parts shortage. Interestingly, only the WSJ mentions that Delphi also moved to void $5 billion in GM supply contracts, indicating that Delphi executives may be preparing for the worst. The NYT in particular breaks down what Delphi is currently paying workers and what they’re now saying they can afford, a difference of more than $10 dollars an hour. Everyone notes that Delphi has asked GM to provide Delphi employees with a one-time payment of $50,000 to ease the transition and avoid a strike. No one mentions how GM would come up with that money, whether GM would make such a payment even if they could afford it—or if such a bonus would stave off the threat of a strike after all.

In a separate article running inside, the WP lays Delphi’s woes at GM’s door.

The pro-immigrant rallies in Los Angeles aren’t doing much to sway the opinions of some California Republicans. If anything, the LAT finds the GOP as deeply divided over immigration legislation as ever. Interestingly, the LAT chalks up the lawmakers’ stubbornness to redistricting. Since district lines were redrawn after the 2000 census to clearly concentrate voting blocks of one party or another, lawmakers face less pressure from the swing voters likely to be moved by the ongoing debate.

In a separate article running over the fold, the LAT asks if the touted benefits of a guest-worker program (less black-market activity, more tax dollars, and a more stable labor base) are just pie in the sky. The LAT wonders if the program might have the opposite effect, driving up prices and encouraging black market activity.

The WP alone fronts Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saying the United States made thousands of tactical errors during the Iraq War. Rice quickly added that such mistakes were distinct from the strategic decision to go to war in the first place, a choice she stands behind. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack claims Rice was “speaking figuratively” … though whether he’s referring to the number or the plausibility of errors is anyone’s guess.

Inside, the NYT runs a look at whether or not the emergency contraceptive RU-486 is safe, after six American women died taking the drug in combination with another drug called misoprostol. The deaths have made some abortion doctors question whether pill-induced or “medical abortions” are as safe as doctor performed, or “surgical,” abortions. It seems a given to TP that doctors performing abortions would be critical of method that could replace them. However, the NYT reports that the death rates for medical abortions are 10 times higher than their surgical counterparts and have fewer complications, but the paper points out this may be due to a lack of proper reporting in surgical procedures. Finally, the paper notes that most of the deaths occurred when the misoprostol was taken vaginally, not orally (as is now recommended), making it difficult to tell if the problem is with the medication or its delivery method.

The NYT and the LAT each front features on the people who answered the 911 calls during the Sept. 11 attacks. The WPgoes inside with a version of the story.

Mauritania has become a launch pad for Africans looking to start a new life by making the treacherous voyage by boat to the Spanish controlled Canary Islands, according to a feature fronted by the WP. Over a 1,000 people have died attempting the 600-mile trip in rickety boats over the last four months.

New HIV cases in San Francisco fell by 10 percent over five years, while the population of gay males in the city rose by 25 percent over the same period. The LAT attributes the shift to the rise of “sero-sorting,” the practice of only engaging in intercourse with someone of the same HIV status.

Staggering signing bonuses and other huge up-front payments for new executives are increasingly the order of the day, says the LAT.

Alls Fair in Love, War … and Stalking
The LAT reports George Clooney has a novel solution for dealing with a tabloid-style celebrity-spotting Web site: Do the misinformation for them.