Today's Papers

Bill, Please

The New York Timesleads with the Senate voting 73-to-25 to limit debate on its immigration bill, meaning the measure is basically a lock to pass, with a vote likely today. The real test, of course, will come when negotiators try to jibe the Senate bill with the “enforcement-only” one in the House. A Los Angeles Timesanalysis looks at the House Republicans’ sticky wicket: Many constituents want a tough immigration bill, but House Republicans might not have the votes, and putting it off won’t win them any friends either. The Washington Postleads with House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issuing a joint statement demanding the Justice Department unhand the files taken in the bribe-related raid of Rep. William Jefferson’s office. The Post says the raid is “the first time that the FBI has executed a search warrant on the Capitol Hill office of a sitting lawmaker.” A piece inside the WP says the move might have been impolitic and uncustomary, but it probably wasn’t illegal. The FBI was also in a bit of a pickle since Jefferson hadn’t been responsive to subpoena requests.

USA Today’s lead adds up retiree liabilities on the federal, state, and local levels. The total: about $58 trillion. The liabilities are growing at a good clip. But it’s worth knowing that, as USAT doesn’t say until far down, the costs are projected over 75 years. The LAT leads with a California Supreme Court ruling at least temporarily reinstating the state’s much-criticized exit exam for high-school kids. If the decision sticks, the 10 percent of seniors who failed won’t get diplomas. Nineteen other states have similar exit-exam requirements. 

A front-page WP piece points out that an experimental government database to validate employees’ immigration status could be expanded to check all workers in the U.S. Just one problem: “In nearly a decade of small-scale tests, it has had trouble distinguishing between those who are here legally and those who are not.”

The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, curiously, with international health workers IDing what appears to be the first case of a human chain of transmission for the avian flu. Eight members of an Indonesian family have been infected, with seven dying so far. As the Post puts it inside, it’s the first time the virus has “passed from one person to another and then to a third.” But it’s not as bad as it sounds. There have long been cases of humans becoming infected from other humans after being in close contact for extended periods, as this family was. “The larger pattern of the virus hasn’t changed,” said a WHO spokesperson. “We’re not seeing transmission from people with more casual contact—that would be a very large trigger for concern.”

The LAT goes inside with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald suggesting in court papers filed last night that he’s planning to call Vice President Cheney to the witness stand. He’s not going after Cheney. Rather, it’s all about busting Cheney’s former chief of staff Scooter Libby, who has said he was in the dark about Valerie Plame’s status as a CIA agent. Cheney will apparently be asked to authenticate a note he jotted referring to Plame and her employer.

USAT fronts the latest evidence suggesting drug studies aren’t paragons of objectivity. A new survey concluded that studies funded by pharmaceutical companies have positive results about 80 percent of the time, compared with the roughly 50 percent rate for studies not funded by the industry.

A front-page NYT piece points out that the Army Corps of Engineers has done a bang-up job of quickly repairing and even improving New Orleans’ levees—except they’re still not good enough for even a Cat 3 storm. “The overall New Orleans flood protection system,” said one outside expert, “must be considered suspect.” The LAT had a similar piece over the weekend.

The WP notices that President Bush appointed a new domestic policy adviser. Karl Zinsmeister, a longtime editor of the conservative American Enterprise Institute’s magazine, has a knack for piercing through cant. Last summer, for example, he wrote: “What the establishment media covering Iraq have utterly failed to make clear today is this central reality: With the exception of periodic flare-ups in isolated corners, our struggle in Iraq as warfare is over.”

The LAT fronts a dispatch from heavily Hispanic South L.A. where Daryl Hannah, Joan Baez, and company have been protesting to keep a community farm from being sold to developers. Baez, who has protested from atop a 50-foot tree on the farm, explained, “I was astounded and I was moved, and I associated very strongly with the brown-skinned people here.”