Today's Papers

Fighting Words

The Los Angeles Timesleads with word that there’s trouble brewing inside Iraq’s Baath Party as it finds itself mired in an internal power struggle. U.S. officials aren’t sure whether this can be thought of as good news, but there’s agreement that any party infighting is likely to affect the Sunni insurgency. The New York Times leads, and the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney criticizing Democrats in Congress for coming up with a war-spending bill that includes timetables for withdrawal. “Instead of fashioning a bill I could sign, the Democratic leaders … chose to make a political statement,” Bush said yesterday.  

USA Todayleads with a look at how despite the decrease in housing prices, property taxes will continue to increase for most homeowners. The Washington Postleads with Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announcing he might issue an executive order to make sure gun sellers have access to information about the mental health of a buyer. The sellers who allowed Cho Seung-Hui to buy the guns he used at Virginia Tech didn’t know a court had previously declared him to be mentally ill. 

The Baath Party was at the heart of Saddam Hussein’s government, and it is widely viewed as being a key player in the insurgency. The man who was Hussein’s chief deputy is thought to be the leader of the movement but a former general is vying to take his spot. The power struggle that ensued at a meeting in January appears to have caused a division within the movement that some see as a positive development because the new faction could be more willing to work with Iraq’s government. Others worry that the new faction could merely be trying to figure out a way to get the Baath Party back into power.

In criticizing Democrats, Cheney directly attacked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for “his defeatism.” Earlier in the week, Reid said “this war is lost” and accused Bush of living in a “state of denial.” The Post notes inside that Reid has unexpectedly become the Democrats’ main spokesman on Iraq, a role that most thought would have been filled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Meanwhile, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American commander in Iraq, is expected to make a lobbying trip to Congress to try to convince lawmakers that they should give the troop increase in Iraq more time. The NYT notes that while the White House has been speaking up against timelines, it is also applying pressure on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to show progress in some key areas or risk losing support in the United States.

The LAT points out that Democrats in Congress want to push Republican lawmakers to vote in defense of the Iraq war as many times as possible, which could help them on two fronts. First, Democrats envision that when Republicans get tired of supporting an unpopular war they will exert pressure on Bush to change tactics. Beyond policy, these votes could also help them gain more seats during next year’s elections.

Homeowners will continue to see an increase in their tax responsibility mainly because most states put limits on how fast property taxes can increase. This means the assessed value of most homes is still less than the market value. As everyone notes, new figures released yesterday show that sales of existing homes suffered the biggest monthly decline in 18 years.   

The Post fronts a look at how more attention is being paid to the safety problems with China’s food supply after ingredients from that country made their way into pet food that killed animals around the world. Turns out there’s much cause for concern as the amount of food and medicine that China exports continues to increase. The Chinese government has vowed to crack down on problems but they keep cropping up in the local food supply and many have been sickened or killed as a result.

The LAT fronts, and everyone mentions, news that the Mexico City legislature voted yesterday to legalize abortion during the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy. So far, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guyana are the only places in Latin America where women can have an abortion on demand. Although the law is likely to face challenges before the Supreme Court, some expressed hope that this could signal a turning point for many countries in the region, where illegal and often unsafe abortions are regularly practiced.

Everyone goes inside with Hamas militants firing several rockets into Israel yesterday from the Gaza Strip. The military wing of Hamas declared that it will no longer abide by a five-month cease-fire, although some moderate members of the government said they are still trying to continue with the truce. Over the weekend, Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians, mostly militants in the West Bank. 

The LAT’s Ronald Brownstein examines Bush’s position on Iraq, stem cells, and global warming to chronicle how the president “has become the dead-ender.” On these three issues Bush continues to mostly hold on to his original beliefs, seemingly without taking notice of how the country’s opinion is changing around him. On global warming, for example, Bush has still failed to take broad action most believe is necessary to combat the problem even while industry leaders have started to tackle the problem. This means that, on global warming, “there are oil, auto and utility executives showing more urgency than Bush,” writes Brownstein. “That’s like prisoners worrying that the warden is skimping on security.”