The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Timeslead, while the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, with news that President Bush made good on his promise to veto the $124 billion war-spending bill, which Congress passed last week. “Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure, and that would be irresponsible,” Bush said after issuing the second veto of his presidency. Democratic lawmakers remained defiant, although everyone notes some sort of compromise is likely since they don’t have enough votes to override the veto.
USA Todayleads with the results of a six-year international study that shows there has been a sharp decline in the number of deaths and heart failure among patients hospitalized for heart attacks or severe chest pains. Researchers believe the results are tied to an increase in the use of angioplasty as well as new drugs designed to treat heart conditions.
Everyone knew the veto was coming, so Democrats and Bush tried to make the most out of the day with symbolic gestures. Democrats held an atypical signing ceremony that was set to coincide with the fourth anniversary of Bush’s speech on an aircraft carrier where, under a banner that read “Mission Accomplished,” he declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq. The LAT notes that at that time, 139 American service members had died in Iraq, a number that has increased by 3,213. Bush spent much of yesterday at the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command, where he was briefed by commanders and spoke before military leaders from around the world. When it was time to sign the veto, the president used a pen that was a gift from the father of a Marine who was killed in Iraq.
Bush will host congressional leaders at the White House today to discuss possible compromises to the bill. Everyone seems to agree Democrats will probably drop the timelines and the next sticking point is likely to surround benchmarks that lawmakers want to impose on the Iraqi government. Republicans seemed open to the idea, and the NYT gets word that Bush might be willing to support them but only if they are nonbinding.
USAT fronts word that the State Department will be conducting a mental-health survey of 1,400 employees who served in Iraq, after it was discovered that many of them suffer from the same symptoms as those that are affecting U.S. troops. With the survey, the State Department hopes to find out how many of its employees are suffering from mental problems because of their work in a war zone. Everyone notes Iraqi officials said the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq may have been killed but U.S. military officials could not confirm the claims.
Everyone goes inside with word that two former World Bank officials said Paul Wolfowitz has misled those who are investigating the pay raise and promotion package given to his companion, Shaha Ali Riza. The former chairman of the World Bank’s ethics committee said that, contrary to Wolfowitz’s claim, his committee was never fully briefed on the package. The bank’s former general counsel claims that Wolfowitz insisted on keeping “professional contact” with Riza, a demand that everyone seemed to find unacceptable. In the end, according to the former official, neither the bank’s board nor the ethics committee approved the package that was awarded to Riza.
The WSJ tops its business newsbox, and almost everyone else fronts, news that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. made an unsolicited $5 billion takeover bid for Dow Jones, the WSJ’s publisher. Murdoch’s $60-a-share offer represents a substantial premium over the trading value of the stock. The WSJ, which has extensive coverage of the developments, goes high with speculation that Murdoch’s move might bring in other bidders. (Slate’s Daniel Gross says that if “Dow Jones puts itself up for sale, it could kick off the mother of all auctions.”) Wall Street reacted enthusiastically to the news and Dow Jones shares increased more than 50 percent.
The key to whether Murdoch’s bid will be successful lies with members of the Bancroft family, who control more than 60 percent of the company’s voting power. In a statement yesterday, a representative said that family members who hold more than 50 percent of the voting power would oppose the bid. Murdoch remained undeterred and insisted there is still “plenty of time.” Everyone ties Murdoch’s desire for Dow Jones with News Corp.’s plans to launch a new financial news channel this summer. In a separate piece inside, the WSJ wonders whether Murdoch’s high-priced offer is meant to deter other bids and questions if the mogul views Dow Jones “as a trophy property that would cap decades of media deal making.”
Everyone goes inside with word that there was no sign of Fidel Castro during yesterday’s May Day parade in Havana. This was the third time in 48 years that Castro missed the march. Before the parade, there was wild speculation that Castro was going to make his first public appearance since undergoing surgery nine months ago. In the United States, yesterday’s protests for immigrants’ rights across the country were much smaller than last year. The LAT fronts the Los Angeles rally, where the day ended with clashes between demonstrators and police.
The NYT fronts a look at how U.S. officials are trying to figure out a way to prevent British citizens of Pakistani descent from being able to enter the country without a visa. Officials say they are concerned that many of the terror plots uncovered recently involve Britons who have ties to Pakistan, and just like any British citizen they could enter the United States without a visa. For some reason the paper decides to refer to this, in the story and headline, as a “visa loophole.”
Bipartisanship is wonderful … Referring to the negotiations on the war-spending bill, Republican Sen. George Voinovich tells the Post that “some kind of compromise has to be worked out. … That’s how it’s done. Everybody holds their nose and maybe a couple of times vomits, but you get it done.”