Today's Papers

The Smartest Guy in the Prison

The Washington Postleads with a new poll that reveals 59 percent of independent voters are leaning toward voting for Democratic candidates in the upcoming elections, while 31 percent are planning to vote for Republicans. Independents won’t be the only problem for the Republicans in November, says the lead story in the Los Angeles Times, which looks into the ways many of the Latino and black leaders who helped President Bush get re-elected in 2004 are dissatisfied with the GOP and are abandoning the party. Topping their list of complaints is the immigration debate as well as what many religious leaders see as a failure of the Bush administration to follow up on promises to direct more money to church-run social programs.

The New York Timesleads with Ford Motor Co. posting a $5.8 billion loss in its third quarter, which amounts to the biggest loss since 1992. The company predicted its losses for the fourth quarter will be even worse. USA Todayleads with Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., telling Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld the poppy eradication program in Afghanistan is a failure. In a letter written earlier this month, Hyde urged Rumsfeld to change the strategy of fighting drug production in Afghanistan by shifting its focus from local farmers to the drug bosses as well as processing plants. The WSJ tops its world-wide newsbox with Iraq, where the U.S. military announced more deaths and President Bush said it was setting “milestones” to measure the progress being made in Iraq, but emphasized these would not amount to ultimatums. The paper also mentions Iraqi and U.S. troops are frantically searching for an American soldier, whom they believe might have been kidnapped.

Independent voters as a whole are not happy with the current government, and only 23 percent said the country is heading in the right direction. Despite the seemingly good news for Democratic candidates, the poll also makes clear these independent voters do not have a particular affinity for the Democrats, but rather, see their votes as a way to express their dissatisfaction with the Republicans.

In a Page One story that summarizes the issues the Democrats are hoping to capitalize on to win the election, USAT fronts its own poll. Again, the news is not good for the Republicans. Only 19 percent said the United States is winning in Iraq, which the newspaper says is an all-time low. The only semi-good news for Republican candidates is that the Foley scandal seems to be losing traction. A poll of likely voters taken right after the scandal broke revealed 59 percent said they favored a Democratic candidate, as opposed to 36 percent who were leaning toward the Republicans. In the latest poll, that margin has narrowed to 54 percent in favor of a Democratic candidate and 41 percent in favor of a Republican.

The LAT fronts, and everyone else mentions, Jeffrey K. Skilling, the former chief executive of Enron Corp., was sentenced to 24 years and four months in prison for his role in the company’s bankruptcy. This was the second-longest prison sentence ever awarded to a white-collar criminal (the record is held by Bernard J. Ebbers of WorldCom who got sentenced to 25 years). Skilling could also end up paying as much as $45 million to the victims of Enron’s fraud. “In terms of remorse, your honor, I can’t imagine more remorse,” Skilling told the judge, while still proclaiming his innocence and vowing to appeal the verdict.  

The WP fronts, and the NYT reefers, the announcement from the White House that the president will no longer say the country should “stay the course” in Iraq. Although at one point, the phrase was a favorite of Bush, the last time he used it was on Aug. 31, and yesterday the White House press secretary said the phrase would no longer be used because “it left the wrong impression.”

The NYT reefers, and the Post goes inside with, word from the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran has begun testing new equipment to enrich uranium. This is largely seen as a show of defiance to the U.N. Security Council, which is currently debating whether to impose sanctions. Both papers quickly point out that Iran is still years away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon.

The WP mentions a news conference held by the United Nations investigator on torture where he said some countries try to invalidate criticism of how they handle detainees by pointing out they are merely following the example set by the United States. “Today, many other governments are kind of saying, ‘But why are you criticizing us; we are not doing something different than what the United States is doing,’ ” he said.

The WP and LAT go inside with the latest violence in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli forces killed a militant commander and six other Palestinians. Israeli officials said they were taking aim at those who fire rockets into their country, while the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas characterized the actions as a “loathsome massacre carried out on, of all days, the first day of Eid al-Fitr,” which marks the end of Ramadan. The Post catches late-breaking news that Palestinian gunmen kidnapped a Spanish photographer who was working for the Associated Press in the Gaza Strip.

The NYT fronts an out-of-the-ordinary look at Sudan’s burgeoning economy. Although Sudan usually conjures up images of starving children, it is, in fact, one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, despite American sanctions.

The NYT mentions that a federal magistrate judge ordered the newspaper to divulge the names of three sources used by columnist Nicholas Kristof in columns he wrote about the anthrax mailings of 2001. Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, who brought the suit against the NYT, says Kristof’s columns defamed him because they implied he was responsible for the anthrax attacks. The newspaper said it would appeal.

Tell me how you really feel … Proving that redesigning a newspaper is never easy, the LAT publishes letters from readers who, for the most part, dislike the paper’s new design, which had its debut on Sunday. “What’s the story? I feel like I’m reading a ‘rag’ now,” wrote a reader from Irvine. Others were sure to drip their letters with irony, like a reader from Sherman Oaks: “Regarding your new retro look: Wow, is it the 1930s already! Love your bold sans serif headline type.” A reader from Pasadena was more direct: “Hate it.”