Today's Papers

Successful Squeeze

The Los Angeles Timesleads with a look at how the Bush administration’s three-year effort to prevent North Korea from having access to the world financial system seems to have paid off. The New York Timesleads with the results of their latest (and final one before Tuesday’s election) poll that once again shows bad news for Republicans. Fifty-two percent of registered voters said they would elect Democrats and 33 percent Republicans. One day after the Washington Postseemed to take the high-road and buried Kerry’s “botched joke” story (a fact the WP’s national political editor proudly pointed out in Slate), today, it decides to lead with the former presidential candidate’s apology. The Wall Street Journal tops its worldwide newsbox with President Bush vowing to keep Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld until the end of his term and, along with other Republicans, continued to criticize Kerry. USA Todayleads with news that the bonuses paid to the country’s airport screeners did not reduce the high turnover rate, as the Transportation Security Administration had originally hoped. 

U.S. officials have frequently said North Korea uses foreign accounts to launder money, which is why it has worked hard to get banks to freeze its assets and prevent financial institutions around the world from doing business with the country. The strategy seems to have worked, at least somewhat, because discussing these restrictions was the only request put forward by the North Koreans to get back to the negotiating table. But, as the NYT reports, not everyone in the Bush administration is happy with the decision to get back to talking, feeling that nuclear tests should be met with isolation, not conversation.

Only 29 percent of Americans approve of the way President Bush is handling the war in Iraq, which was cited as the most important issue in the upcoming elections. In addition, 69 percent of respondents said George W. Bush has not developed a clear plan for dealing with Iraq, and 76 percent say a Democratic Congress is more likely to bring U.S. troops back home sooner. Fifty percent of independents said they plan to vote for a Democratic candidate, while 23 percent for Republicans. Despite Republican efforts to paint Democrats as weak on national security issues, slightly more Americans seem to believe the threat of terrorism would increase under Republican rule.

Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, Sen. John Kerry issued two apologies yesterday for his remarks and criticized Republicans for focusing on his statements rather than on the issues. Several Democrats tried to distance themselves from the senator, and, seemingly to avoid problems, Kerry canceled his campaign trips.

The LAT fronts a look at how Kerry is not alone, as “foot-in-mouth syndrome has become the bane of candidates coast to coast.”

The WSJ mentions how a Democratic Party victory on Tuesday is going to force party members to come up with a unified foreign-policy plan, which would be critical for 2008.

The NYT reefers word that Rep. Nancy Pelosi has become the “unwitting star” of several Republican ads that are trying to use the possibility of Pelosi as speaker to get conservatives to the polls on Tuesday. The problem is, most voters simply don’t seem to know who Pelosi is or what she stands for (a point Slate’s Bruce Reed made in a forum at the George Washington University last week).

The Post fronts a look at how the wide-ranging congressional scandals could be one of the main causes for the likely Republican downfall in the House of Representatives. “There were scandals throughout the ‘70s, multiple scandals, but the number of stories now are almost overwhelming,” a congressional historian tells the paper.

The NYT reefers a dispatch from the campaign to replace disgraced congressman Mark Foley, where everyone thought Democrats were slated for an easy victory. Republicans have put nearly $2 million into the race, and the efforts seem to be working, as some have declared the race too close to call.

USAT notes the fallout from the Abramoff scandal has led to Indian tribes cutting back on their political contributions this election cycle. 

The WSJ fronts a look at leadership political-action committees that are meant to pass on money to congressional candidates who need the cash. But the paper says both Republicans and Democrats are increasingly using money from their leadership PACs for expenses that have nothing to do with funding candidates. “My impression is that a lot of people use leadership PACs as a slush fund,” Rep. Joel Hefley, a Colorado Republican, tells the paper.

The NYT reefers word from Iraq, where local leaders are continuing to try to assert their independence from Americans, even if it is for mostly symbolic results. Iraqi leaders announced they have written up a set of changes to a United Nations agreement that would give the local government more control over its armed forces.

The U.S. military announced two more deaths in October, which increased last month’s death toll to 105. The first U.S. casualty in November was also announced. The Post cites figures from Iraq’s Interior Ministry and says 1,289 Iraqi civilians died as a result of political violence in October, which is an increase of 18 percent from September. The paper is quick to point out that many civilian deaths in Iraq are never reported.

USAT fronts a look at how many combat veterans are being dismissed from the Marines when they express classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (such as drug abuse and alcoholism) and are then denied medical benefits to treat their illness. The Marine Corps says it is investigating the issue and so far has identified 1,019 Marines who may fall in this category.

The WP off-leads and everyone else mentions news that CVS Corp. has agreed to purchase pharmacy-benefit manager Caremark Rx Inc. in a deal worth more than $20 billion (all the papers have slightly different figures). The companies said the merger, which still has to be approved by shareholders and regulators, could lead to unprecedented power to negotiate lower drug prices. Wall Street seemed to have its doubts on the merger, as shares of both companies fell yesterday. 

The LAT fronts the death of novelist William Styron, whose books included Sophie’s Choice and The Confessions of Nat Turner, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1968. He was 81 years old.

Three drunk mice … The WP and NYT front a piece on research results that seem to show that a substance called resveratrol, which is found in red wine, prevented mice from suffering the negative effects of a high-calorie diet. It’s still a little early to determine whether this would have the same effect on humans. In order to get the same proportion of the substance as was given to the mice, humans would have to drink anywhere from 750 to 1,500 bottles of red wine a day.

Worst lede of the day … For some reason, the NYT found it necessary to begin its mice story with not one, but two clichés: “Can you have your cake and eat it? Is there a free lunch after all, red wine included?” Can you say hackneyed?