The New York Timesleads with news that the Iraqi Cabinet approved draft legislation to spell out how the country would manage and distribute its oil revenues. The draft law gives the federal government the power to distribute the oil revenues to the country’s provinces based on population and would open the market to foreign investment. Iraqi officials say they want parliament to approve the law before May. The Washington Postleads with an in-house poll that reveals two in three Americans oppose President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq. Also, 53 percent of people supportthe idea of setting a deadline for the withdrawal of troops and 64 percent said the Iraq war was not worth fighting. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with word that a U.S. raid in southern Iraq uncovered a factory that officials say was used to construct deadly roadside bombs that the military previously thought were made only in Iran.
USA Todayleads with a look at how more than a dozen states are considering raising tobacco taxes. Most of these states want the money to help fund health coverage for the uninsured. Tobacco taxes have been steadily increasing and last year brought in $14 billion, compared to $7.3 billion 10 years earlier. The Los Angeles Timesleads locally and goes high with the importance of California in political fund raising. Over the last four years, Californians spent $502 million on federal campaigns, which is 24 percent more than New York and accounts for 13 percent of all money raised nationally.
Although the federal goverment would be responsible for many of the decisions under the new oil-law draft, regional authorities would still have the power to make certain determinations about signing contracts and managing oil fields. But a new powerful central body, the Federal Oil and Gas Council, would have the power to prevent contracts from going forward if they don’t meet a certain standard. The NYT makes clear that simply saying oil revenues will be distributed by population is likely to bring problems because no accurate census exists. Regardless, U.S. officials, who have been pushing for the law, praised the move. According to analysts, foreign companies are unlikely to rush to Iraq because there are still several unresolved issues. Although the Iraqi government says every contract will have a fair bidding process, there are concerns that American companies could be favored.
The WP-ABC poll also found that although Rep. John P. Murtha’s plan to establish training and rest requirements before troops are deployed has faced strong opposition in Congress, 58 percent of Americans support these types of rules. Only 31 percent said they approved of Bush’s handling of the war and respondents widely said they trust Democrats in Congress more than Bush to handle issues such as Iraq, health care, the economy, and terrorism.
Before Saturday’s raid in southern Iraq, officials previously thought the roadside bombs that can penetrate armor were brought fully assembled into Iraq. The WSJ is the only paper to focus on that angle of the story, and the rest mention how American officials put on display the bomb-making components, which they said were made in Iran. The NYT is alone in reporting that a few of the cardboard boxes containing some of the parts had labels and addresses that seemed to indicate they didn’t originate in Iran.
The LAT manages to catch late-breaking news and publish a separate story on the bomb that went off early this morning outside the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan while Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting. Cheney was not injured, but the attack is seen as a bold show of force by insurgents. Early-morning wire reports say a suicide bomber carried out the attack and there is discrepancy in the reports on how many were killed. A local official put the death toll at 20, but NATO said initial reports suggest three people were killed, including a U.S. soldier.
Cheney is in Afghanistan after making an unannounced stopover in Pakistan, where he was in charge of pressuring the country’s president to get tougher on terrorism. The vice president’s four-hour visit was kept secret until he left Pakistan and news organizations in the know were asked to keep mum. The NYT reports that after Cheney’s visit, the Pakistani government issued a strong statement saying that “Pakistan does not accept dictation from any side or any source.” The message was then “toned down.”
All the papers report that an explosion wounded one of Iraq’s vice presidents during a ceremony inside the Ministry of Public Works yesterday. The LAT calls it “an assassination attempt apparently plotted from inside the government.” The bomb killed five people. The U.S. military said a Marine was killed on Monday in Anbar province.
A juror was dismissed from the trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby yesterday because she came into contact with information about the case over the weekend. The judge allowed the jury to continue deliberations with 11 members. The dismissed juror was the one who gained some notoriety after she was the only one who didn’t wear a red shirt marked with white hearts on Valentine’s Day.
It’s not just in your head … The LAT reports that a new study reveals what many of us have suspected for some time: The new generation of college-age students is, for the most part, more narcissistic than its predecessors. The authors of the study titled “Egos Inflating Over Time” say all the effort put into raising children’s self-esteem appears to have brought some undesirable consequences. According to researchers, increased egos could lead to personal and social problems.