Today's Papers

Something Fishy

The Los Angeles Timesleads withSenate Majority Leader Bill Frist endorsing a “compromise” immigration bill that would give illegal immigrants who’ve worked in the U.S. for at least five years a path to citizenship. The Wall Street Journal’s world-wide newsbox and Washington Post lead with the House voting mostly along party lines to pass a campaign finance “reform” bill that the Post says “would benefit Republicans.” It removes some restrictions on parties coordinating spending with individual candidates and adds limits for spending by non-profits known as 527s, where the Democrats currently have an edge. Not that any of this is likely to stick: The bill’s chances in the Senate are “considered slim.” USA Todayleads with a government survey showing the number of teenagers reporting they’ve recently used drugs dropped a bit, down half a point to 10.9 percent from 2002 to 2004.

The New York Timesleads with and others front scientists discovering a 375-million-year-old all-terrain creature that appears to be a missing link between fish and land-based animals. The Tiktaalik roseae—Inuktitut for “large shallow water fish”—had arm-joints, proto-wrists, and could drag itself across land. It’s exactly the kind of transitional creature that creationists have long crowed there had never been evidence of.

As the LAT details, Frist blocked a vote on more liberal legislation that had been sponsored by Sens. McCain and Kennedy. In the bill now endorsed by Frist—more lenient than what he had originally supported—illegal immigrants who’ve been in the country for between two and five years would have to cross over the border again but could come back and get visas along with a chance at citizenship. Anybody becoming a citizen would need to pay a fine and back taxes, prove their work history, and learn English. Those here less than two years would be SOL. Anyway, the deal is far from done. Support for it is still shaky in the Senate. And if it passes there, it would still have to be reconciled with the harsher version passed by the House.

Slate’s Jacob Weisberg has an alternative proposal for dealing with the whole immigration conundrum: leave the law alone.

The Post goes inside with scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which does lots of global-warming research, complaining that the White House has tightened the screws on their ability to talk with reporters, and flacks have been mucking up press releases. A scientist recalled that in some releases, including one from last November, the PR department “purged key words from the releases, including ‘global warming,’ ‘warming climate’ and ‘climate change.’ ”

The WP fronts research showing that while AIDS has devastated southern Africa, there have been far fewer infections across the continent as a whole than the U.N. has long estimated. The earlier numbers, says the Post, were “skewed in favor of young, sexually active women in the urban areas that had prenatal clinics.” Analysts also blamed structural biases at the U.N., which has both tried to measure HIV rates and raise money for treatment. “They were not predisposed, let’s put it that way, to weigh the counterevidence,” said one specialist. “They were looking to generate big bucks.”

And what’s not in the papers … The respected National Journal recentlyreported that before President Bush warned unequivocally that Saddam Hussein was importing aluminum tubes for nukes development, Bush had been told in an intel summary that some intel agencies were skeptical. Moreover, the National Journal added last week that Karl Rove worked to keep that quiet in the run-up to the elections. “The mission was to insulate the president,” said a former senior government official who was “personally familiar with the damage-control effort.” “It was about making it appear that he wasn’t in the know.”

The doubts about the tubes came via a (still-unpublished) one-page intel summary specially prepared for Bush. So far as TP sees, the papers’ total coverage of the allegations: zilch.