Today's Papers

Welcome to The Jungle

Today’s Washington Post leads with news that the FDA is overruling warnings from its own public health experts in order to approve a risky cattle antibiotic. The Los Angeles Times leads with news that the cocaine trade has shifted from the Caribbean to routes across Central America and Mexico. The New York Times lead looks at mandatory post-incarceration treatment programs for sex offenders. The programs are expanding across the country, but they’re quite expensive and not so effective.

The FDA is fixin’ to approve the extremely potent drug cefquinome for use on cattle—a step that risks creating diseases that are resistant to medicine’s most powerful antibiotics. Thirteen health groups, including the AMA, plus the FDA advisory board say the decision is needlessly dangerous. But the FDA is following a new “guidance document” telling it to weight public health concerns against pharma concerns less strongly than it has in the past.

The LAT says Colombian cocaine producers have adapted to increased enforcement in the Caribbean by allowing Mexican cartels to ship drugs overland, through Central America. The influx of money and heavy arms is corrupting local politics and overwhelming enforcement agencies. Violent details and amusing mob nicknames inside.

According to the NYT, federal and state governments are expanding “civil commitment programs,” which often serve as indefinite holding tanks for sex offenders who have served out their prison sentences. The programs are popular because they keep offenders off the streets while attempting to rehabilitate them, but the NYT comes up with a number of reasons why the rehabilitation programs are a joke—and a pricey one at that.

The NYT goes above the fold with tomorrow’s civil rights commemoration face-off between Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. Both are headed to Selma, Ala. to commemorate the famous Bloody Sunday civil rights march (link included to help out U2 listeners). Democratic candidates are wooing black voters with nigh-unprecedented ardor. A poll in the LAT says DNC officials prefer Clinton and the LAT also profiles Clinton’s strained history with David Geffen.

The WP has two articles on this weekend’s CPAC conference—something like a Star Trek convention but for right-wingers—but they assess the results differently. As the ellipses in its title indicate, the WP front muses optimistically about Giuliani without coming to any conclusions. But a poll inside says CPAC-ers prefer Romney and an LAT piece says RNC officials do, too.

The LAT says an NIH agency has been farming out its research to a consulting firm with close ties to the chemicals industry. The agency might be downplaying the danger of compounds in common plastic items like Tupperware, and Congress wants an explanation.

The NYT fronts congressional hearings about a possible political purge in the Justice Department. A number of federal prosecutors may have been fired in order to take advantage of the Bush Administration’s “window of opportunity” to appoint loyalists.

The WP says last week’s business jitters show how China’s sketchball stock market is tied to the global economy. Some companies are in the market precisely because it’s so sketchy.

An interesting WP piece says marriage is becoming the “self-selected province of the educated and affluent.” Apparently, ever more working class and poor people view marriage as a luxury.  Some of the WP’ssources blame the trend on rising income inequality since the 1970s, while one blames married people for causing 13 percent of the nation’s income inequality.

Everyone says pro-democracy marchers in St. Petersburg strayed from their assigned protest zone, proceeding into the city center and outmaneuvering police for 40 minutes until they were truncheoned into submission. TP wouldn’t expect anything less from a march organized by world chess champion Gary Kasparov. The NYT has cute old babushka pictures.

The NYT says  Coloradans are replacing immigrant laborers with prison inmates: an ideological victory for Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., but also one that will reap him handsome political rewards when those prisoners can vote again.

The NYT and WP say that inter-sectarian marriages, among other things, are becoming all but impossible in Iraq.

The LAT says Muqtada Sadr is rejecting U.S.-Iraqi security plans, complicating the planned crackdown in Sadr city.

Bullish future: Rounding up today’s scientific and regulatory clown-show, don’t forget to read about the LAT’s cloned beef taste test. What better way to usher in the FDA’s brave new world than a gratuitously detailed description of one bovine’s sex life?