The New York Times,Wall Street Journal’s business box, and Washington Post all lead with President Bush’s nomination of top-flight Wall Street guy Henry Paulson as treasury secretary. Currently chairman of Goldman Sachs, Paulson reportedly initially rebuffed the president, who eventually promised that Paulson wouldn’t be just another Willy Loman of tax cuts. The Los Angeles Timesfronts Paulson and leads with what one senior U.S. commander referred to as the “growing realization” that with the worsening situation in Iraq and particularly in the Anbar province, there probably won’t be a significant drawdown of troops this year. Yesterday, Italy announced it’s going to pull its 2,600 troops out by year’s end. USA Today leads with the FBI planning to use its DNA database to try to ID the roughly 40,000 unidentified bodies in the U.S. *
Paulson was so skeptical of the job, the Journal says, he agreed to have dinner with Bush in April, “then canceled.” The WSJ says he decided to come onboard only after the president promised to move some decision-making to the Treasury Department.
Few are convinced that “some” will amount to much. “Will Paulson make a difference?” asks Slate’s Dan Gross. “Can he square the circle of the administration’s desire to maintain massive government spending and extend tax cuts?”
Or as one analyst told the LAT, the administration is looking “to tap into Wall Street’s legendary ability to put lipstick on a financial pig.”
Paulson has long been a supporter of Bush’s tax cuts and is an environmentalist. The NYT also notices another potential difference with the White House: Paulson supports balanced budgets.
In what’s sure to become a one-of-a-kind collector’s item, today’s lead editorial in NYT calls the president’s latest move “a master stroke.”
The WP and LAT front the Supreme Court ruling 5 to 4 that government whistle-blowers aren’t protected by the First Amendment. The majority ruling was written by Justice Kennedy and joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. Kennedy wrote that employees can talk all the smack they want during off hours but not while on the clock. To which Justice Stevens, dissenting, offered, “It seems perverse to fashion a new rule that provides employees with an incentive to voice their concerns publicly before talking frankly to their superiors.”
About 50 Iraqis and one GI were killed in Iraq. In the worst attack, 25 people were killed by a bomb at a bus stop just north of Baghdad. Another 10 were killed outside a bakery in Baghdad. The LAT mentions a new Pentagon report concluding that about 80 Iraqis have been “killed or wounded” daily since mid-February, up from 60 a few months before. The WP cites an analysis showing that this May has had more “multiple fatality bombings” than in any other month since the invasion.
The NYT off-leads details of an initial military inquiry into Marines’ apparent murder of Iraqis in Haditha. It’s hard to tell what, if any, new info there is here—though the inquiry turned up evidence that officers, including a battalion commander, were involved in a cover-up.
The NYT alone fronts a European Union court invalidating an agreement in which info on cross-Atlantic airline passengers is turned over to U.S. counterterrorism officials. The court gave the E.U. and U.S. four months to hammer out a new agreement, during which time the data can still flow.
The European court didn’t rule on privacy grounds. Instead, it just concluded that any agreement needs approval from the E.U. Parliament. The NYT, meanwhile, goes high with speculation on the potential for a cross-Atlantic catastrophe: If there’s no deal, the U.S. “in theory [could] even deny landing rights to airlines that withhold the information.”
The WP off-leads a Maryland court convicting sniper John Muhammad of six counts of murder. Muhammad is already facing a death sentence in Virginia.
Darfur was never the simplistic morality tale purveyed by the news media and humanitarian organizations. The region’s blacks, painted as long-suffering victims, actually were the oppressors less than two decades ago—denying Arab nomads access to grazing areas essential to their survival. Violence was initiated not by Arab militias but by the black rebels who in 2003 attacked police and military installations. …Advocates of intervention play down rebel responsibility because it is easier to build support for stopping genocide than for becoming entangled in yet another messy civil war. But their persistent calls for intervention have actually worsened the violence.
Correction, May 31: This article originally and incorrectly stated that about 40,000 unidentified dead bodies are found annually in the U.S. In fact, the total number of unidentified dead bodies is estimated to be 40,000. (Return to the corrected sentence.)