Today's Papers

Royal Defeat

The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times lead, while the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, with yesterday’s elections in France, where Nicolas Sarkozy was chosen to be the country’s new president. The conservative Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, soundly beat Socialist Ségolène Royal, who aspired to become France’s first female president, with 53 percent of the vote. Interest in the election was high, as a near-record 84 percent of the country’s registered voters cast a ballot. Sarkozy has promised to bring about economic and social change to France, as well as improve relations with the United States. “The French people have chosen change,” Sarkozy said in his victory speech. He will officially replace President Jacques Chirac on May 17.

USA Todayleads with word that the Army is fixing the doors in all armored Humvees currently being used in combat in Iraq because they can leave the soldiers trapped inside during an attack. The problem is a result of the efforts to add armor to the Humvees, which can make a door weigh 600 pounds or more. “This is just another reason why we need to get as many of the new MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles as possible into the field, as soon as possible,” Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware said.

Everyone goes high with a look at how Sarkozy’s election is likely to signal a new era of co-operation and friendship between the United States and France. “France will always be by the U.S.’s side when it needs her,” Sarkozy said in his victory speech. At the same time, he made clear that “friends can think differently” and he called on the United States “not to oppose the fight against global warming.” Although Sarkozy has promised to bring in a wave of changes to the country, he will first have to face some of France’s most powerful institutions, such as its labor unions, which have been successful at derailing reforms in the past. Yesterday, the NYT’s Week in Review looked into why it is unlikely that the elections will bring dramatic changes to France.

The NYT notes that although Royal had asked women voters to pick her, Sarkozy got the majority of their votes. The WP points out some analysts believe there is so much conflict within the Socialist Party that it is at risk of disintegrating. The LAT says that Royal’s speech “sounded like the first round” in the fight for the party’s leadership that is likely to take place in the near future. The WSJ mentions up high that Sarkozy’s victory probably means a right-wing majority will be voted in during the June legislative elections. 

The WP fronts, and everyone goes inside with, the U.S. military announcing that eight U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq yesterday. In total, the Post says 12 U.S. service members died in Iraq over the weekend. A roadside bomb in Diyala province killed six of these soldiers, along with a European journalist who was not identified. A senior U.S. commander warned there is likely to be an increase in American casualties in the coming months. “All of us believe that in the next 90 days, you’ll probably see an increase in American casualties because we are taking the fight to the enemy,” Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said. All the papers carry wire stories reporting that an Afghan soldier shot and killed two U.S. troops yesterday.

The LAT fronts news that a coalition of 36 companies, including some of the country’s largest corporations, is planning to begin a new lobbying campaign that will call for medical insurance to be expanded to everyone. Under their plan, everyone would be required to have health insurance, which would be subsidized for those with low incomes. The new campaign is likely to aid efforts in states such as California, where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has called for an overhaul in health-care laws. Accompanying the story, the LAT has a helpful rundown of the different proposals.

The Post fronts word that Cho Seung-Hui never received the treatment ordered in December 2005 by a judge who declared him mentally ill. Basically, no one followed up on the judge’s orders. It seems everyone in the system knows that these types of involuntary outpatient commitments aren’t ever enforced. According to Virginia law, community-services boards have to follow up to make sure a person gets the court-ordered treatment. “That’s news to us,” the man in charge of the boards said when he was read the law.    

The LAT fronts a staggering number: $373 million. That’s how much money Spider-Man 3 made in worldwide ticket sales  during its opening weekend (the NYT puts the number at $227 million). To put it simply, more than four out of every five moviegoers around the world went to see the third installment of the adventures of Peter Parker and his web-weaving powers. It shattered the previous record held by Star Wars: Epidosde III Revenge of the Sith that took in $254 million in its opening weekend. In the United States and Canada alone, the movie took in almost $150 million. Studio executives are optimistic that good news for Spidey means they can expect big numbers from their upcoming summer blockbusters with an analyst telling the NYT, “this should be the first $4 billion summer.” The movie’s success also means executives at Sony are likely to continue the Spider-Man franchise. As Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal tells USAT, “This is beyond our dreams. I’m going to keep making Spider-Man movies until someone stops me.”