Today's Papers

From Sí to Shining Sí

Everybody leads with the peaceful, pro-immigrant immigrant rallies. The biggest turnouts were in L.A.—about 600,000 folks—and Chicago, where there were (very) roughly 400,000 marchers.

The Wall Street Journal notes that in “Texas, Atlanta and other places,” crowds were smaller than expected, which the paper partly attributes to “fear that recently swept through some immigrant communities” after the crackdown by the fedson a few companies that employed illegal aliens.

As the Los Angeles Timesnotes up high, some cities actually had two protests: an early one for people who supported a boycott, and one in the late afternoon for people who wanted to go after work or school. According to the LAT, about 250,000 people showed up to the first one in L.A., and about 400,000 for the later, post-work event.

As for the boycott, the LAT focuses on California and paints a dark, shallow picture: “Dolls from China, DVD players from Japan and shirts from Malaysia piled up at the ports. Lettuce didn’t get picked in Blythe and strawberries languished in Oxnard.”

So, did a lot of people really not punch into work? The answer: It’s kind of hard to tell.

Most of the papers give the sense that the overall effect on the economy was negligible but a few industries were hard-hit: Citing an industry group, the Journal says “nine out of 10 workers” in the landscaping industry took the day off. And, again in the Journal, analysts estimated that the meatpacking industry slaughtered half its usual numbers. (Of course, part of that is because companies closed in anticipation of the marches.) The Washington Postcites a farm rep saying about 30 percent to 40 percent of fieldworkers didn’t show up.

In Slate, historian Nelson Lichtenstein says that, like “the crucial struggles that began more than a century ago, today’s marches have forged a link among working-class aspiration, celebrations of ethnic identity, and insistence on full American citizenship. It’s an explosive combination. And it could revive and reshape liberal politics in our time.”

The New York Timesfronts and others go inside with Republican Senate leaders dropping their plan to tweak a tax on businesses that would have raised money for their prized $100 refund by changing how inventories are written off. The retreat came after businesses seriously objected. Citing a spokeswoman for Majority Leader Bill Frist, the Journal says Republicans might just fund the rebate by … not funding it. That is, they’re considering just adding the $15 billion cost to the deficit. 

The WP fronts Bolivia’s president nationalizing the country’s natural-gas industry and deploying troops to back up his move. Bolivia has the second-largest reserves of natural gas in South America, but the Journal notes it’s not likely to rock the world market: Worldwide, Bolivia’s reserves don’t rank in the top 20.

The papers go inside with a graduation ceremony for mostly Sunni Iraqi soldiers. It was quite festive—until they were told they’d have to serve outside their home province. After that, says the Post, “some soldiers started tearing their clothes off to demonstrate their rage.” Said one soldier, “We are afraid of the Shiite death squads which are found inside the Iraqi army, and who might kill us if we serve outside our province.”

A piece inside the NYT notices that a U.S. commander in Iraq has issued guidelines aiming for GIs to soften relations with civilians. Among the new rules: “substituting signs or other gentler warnings for the firing of warning shots” at checkpoints. (Last year, this TPer looked at why the Army hadn’t adopted that same change despite its being repeatedly recommended by outsiders and the Army’s own investigators.)

The Post goes inside with a Justice Department report—released last Friday night—showing that in the last year, the FBI issued about 9,000 so-called national security letters, which allow the government to get people’s records from banks, Internet providers, and others without court approval.

USA Todayfronts a poll showing President Bush’s rating at 34 percent, a record low for the poll. The paper points out that since 1950, Gallup (which conducted USAT’s poll) has clocked six times when a president’s approval rating was below 50 percent in the spring before a midterm election. His party lost seats in the House all six times.