Today's Papers

Let’s Talk About Benchmarks

The New York Timesleads with word that the Iraqi national oil law is likely to face some strong opposition in parliament as Sunni and Kurdish officials seem reluctant to support the legislation that would determine how oil revenue is distributed. This is bad news for the White House, which was hoping the issue, long touted as a key mark of progress in Iraq, would be resolved quickly. The Washington Postleads, and the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, with the post-veto negotiations between congressional leaders and President Bush. As expected, the House wasn’t able to gather enough votes to override the veto, and it didn’t take long for Democrats to say they will drop the timeline to get combat troops out of Iraq.

The Los Angeles Timesleads with the Los Angeles police chief vowing to investigate the extraordinary events that took place at an immigration rights rally on Tuesday. At least 10 people, including several reporters, were injured as police used batons and fired 240 “less-than-lethal” rounds at demonstrators. USA Todayleads with a new study that says adults who have serious mental illness and are treated in public health systems have a lifespan that is approximately 25 years shorter than the average American. This marks an increase from the early ‘90s, when the difference was 10 to 15 years. Part of the reason for this decreased lifespan has to do with characteristics of those who are mentally ill, but side effects of some medications, coupled with poor treatment, are also to blame.

The Post reports that Iraq’s oil minister said he expects the draft oil law would be passed by the end of the month, but Kurdish legislators said they oppose some of the measures that are detailed in accompanying legislation and annexes. The main sticking point has to do with a provision that would give control of pretty much all the country’s oil fields and related contracts to a state-run company that is yet to be established. “The whole problem is because this law was made in a hurry, and the Americans were rushing everyone to do it,” a Kurdish legislator said. Meanwhile, the NYT notes, the main bloc of Sunni legislators said the law shouldn’t even be discussed at a time when the country’s security situation is so dire.

Despite their concession on the timeline, Democrats made clear they will still try to put together a bill that would affect war policy. And, as the LAT details on Page One, it looks like they’ll get help from an unlikely source—Republicans. Yesterday it became clear that the rift between the White House and some key Republican lawmakers is widening as more of them are advocating setting binding benchmarks for the Iraqi government. The WP notes almost at the end of its story that Democratic leaders have concluded they will not be able to persuade the more anti-war lawmakers to go along with a compromise bill.   

Meanwhile, in Iraq, a roadside bomb killed three American service members, and the fourth of five brigades that are part of the “surge” arrived yesterday. 

One of the main questions surrounding the police action in Los Angeles is why the “less-than-lethal” rounds were fired when the rally was largely peaceful and there were no arrests. The LAT devotes a separate story inside to the accounts of reporters who were affected by the police actions. A radio reporter said she was hit in the back by a police officer. One journalist for Telemundo said police knocked down monitors, grabbed and threw a camera several feet, and proceeded to hit reporters with batons. The other papers pretty much ignore the story.  

The NYT fronts, and everyone mentions, the Dow Jones board announcement that it would take no immediate action on Rupert Murdoch’s bid because members of the Bancroft family representing 52 percent of the votes rejected the offer. This is not expected to deter Murdoch, and the WSJ wonders whether he will now pursue a “divide and conquer” strategy. The Bancroft family consists of a large group of people from several generations that have differing allegiances to Dow Jones, so it might be possible to convince some to change their minds.

Both the NYT and WSJ take a look at how Murdoch runs his other newspapers for a hint at how he might lead Dow Jones. “Murdoch’s hands-on style differs markedly from the traditions of the publisher he now wants to buy,” the WSJ blankly notes. In a piece inside, the NYT points out several unusually large trades on Dow Jones options last week raise the question of whether the investors were acting on inside information.

The WP fronts, and everyone else goes inside with an announcement by the Justice Department that it is looking into whether a former senior adviser to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales took party affiliation into consideration when hiring career prosecutors. The actions by Monica Goodling could amount to a violation of federal laws, and, once again, brings up the issue of partisan activity within the Justice Department. Also yesterday, the Senate judiciary committee issued a subpoena to Gonzales for e-mails relating to the firings of U.S. attorneys that involve Karl Rove. Also, new documents reveal that several of the fired attorneys said they received threatening phone calls from the chief of staff to the deputy attorney general. Michael Elston allegedly pressured them to keep quiet about the circumstances surrounding their dismissals.

Over on the NYT’s op-ed page, Arnold Burns, a former Justice Department official, puts forward a proposal to depoliticize the department. Burns suggests the attorney general no longer be a Cabinet position and simply be appointed for a fixed term, regardless of who is in power. In another piece, Frank Bowman, a law professor, says that even if Bush decides to stand by Gonzales, Congress could choose to impeach the attorney general.