Today's Papers

Death, Taxes, and Dubya, Too

The New York Timesand the  Los Angeles Times lead with the release of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ testimony a full two days ahead of a key Senate hearing on the controversy over fired U.S. attorneys. The Washington Post’s top story is Sunday’s campaign-finance filings, showing Hillary Clinton with the most overall money in her account but trailing Barack Obama for primary fund-raising.

The  Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide news box with a series of bombs killing 45 in Shiite areas of Baghdad, but also goes high with late word that troubled lender Sallie Mae has agreed to be sold into private ownership. USA Todayleads with a survey showing 70 percent of school children in a Baghdad neighborhood have symptoms of trauma, including bed-wetting and stuttering.

The LAT’s Gonzales story notes that Justice Department officials released the testimony on their own rather than wait for Chuck Schumer to do it for them as the two sides jockey for pre-hearing message control. A justice spokesman tells the paper the written testimony was due in to the Senate 48 hours before the hearing.

As for the text itself, Gonzales says he has “nothing to hide.” He also apologizes for “my missteps that have helped fuel the controversy” and tries to address previous contradictions in his comments about the firings, including an earlier statement that he was not involved in discussions on the issue. He sticks by his account that much of the work was handled by former chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson.

Schumer and others, including Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, dismiss the testimony as not enough. Schumer pointed to statements from Michael Battle, former director of the executive office for U.S. attorneys, that he said showed further contradictions in Gonzales’ story. The papers note that Gonzales published an op-ed piece in the WP on Sunday previewing his testimony, and that the hearing may be his last chance to save his job.

The NYT draws parallels between Gonzales’ case and Paul Wolfowitz’s situation at the World Bank, with growing calls for his resignation over a transfer that resulted in a hefty salary for his girlfriend. The NYT is the only paper to front a Wolfowitz story, and its editorial page today called for him to resign.

Campaign finance reports were due in yesterday, and while Hillary Clinton came out on top in total money, the story gets far more complicated. She trailed Barack Obama in money raised specifically for the primary campaign, and the WP notes that Obama seems to have far more donors who have not yet “maxed out” their contribution amounts. Clinton was also helped by a $10 million transfer from her Senate campaign account, the papers say.

The NYT’s campaign-finance story focuses on Obama receiving donations from former Clinton contributors, including a few who slept in the Lincoln bedroom. But, as the story points out, this isn’t so surprising considering it’d be difficult to find a Dem contributor who didn’t have ties to the Clintons in the 1990s. Overplayed, perhaps?

It’s tax time, of course, and the NYT and WP front tax-related features. The NYT looks at the increasing number of illegal immigrants filing taxes in hopes it will help them one day earn legal status, while the WP focuses on small-business tax cheats. The paper highlights the case of a guy who claimed less than $8,000 in taxable income from his family’s two nail salons but somehow wound up blinged out.

The NYT flags an insightful piece out of Iraq, where well-armed and apparently trained Sunni insurgents are increasingly setting up in Baquba, north of Baghdad. The paper says what’s happened in Baquba is in many ways the opposite of what has occurred in Baghdad, where Shiite militias terrorized and forced out Sunnis.

The Internet as terrorist recruiting ground gets front-page play at the LAT. The story looks at a 22-year-old Moroccan, the son of a diplomat, who is alleged to have become a “media guy” for al-Qaida in Iraq and something of a pioneer in Internet terrorism plotting.

The WSJ lays out on its front the strange tale of a Kenyan runner who became a Bahrainian citizen to earn more dough as an athlete, only to be rejected later by the country’s authorities because he competed in—and won—a marathon in Israel. The story describes an apparently common practice of Gulf states enticing skilled African runners to take up citizenship as a way of boosting the countries’ sports prestige.

The WP visits the notorious Rocinha favela in Rio de Janeiro for a front-page feature and describes the heavy violence involving minors there. The story offers these figures: “From 2002 through 2006, 729 Israeli and Palestinian minors were killed as a result of the violence in Israel and the occupied territories. … During the same period in Rio de Janeiro, 1,857 minors were reported murdered.”

Elsewhere, the NYT reports on polar bear hunting in Russia, and why this may be a good thing.

And the papers note that many baseball players, including the entire Los Angeles Dodgers roster, wore number 42 on their jerseys yesterday to honor Jackie Robinson. If you’re unclear on why, go here for your homework assignment.