Today's Papers

No Break

The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal’s world-wide newsbox lead with Senate Republicans blocking a measure that was thought to be the best chance lawmakers had to alter Iraq policy. Sen. Jim Webb’s proposal would have mandated that active-duty troops couldn’t be redeployed to Iraq or Afghanistan unless they were given as much time at home as they had spent in the war zone. Webb, a Democrat from Virginia, had a prominent GOP co-sponsor in Sen. Chuck Hagel, but the proposal gathered support from only six Republicans, so it fell four votes short of the 60 necessary to prevent a filibuster. It now seems clear Democrats won’t be able to get Republicans to support any measure that would affect troop levels in Iraq.

USA Todayleads with a look at how projects to install citywide wireless networks are falling apart. The plans were once heralded as the future of access to the Internet, but many cities are now delaying or canceling the proposed Wi-Fi networks after running into numerous problems. Several of the leading companies are also backing away from these types of projects, saying they’re too expensive.

When Webb first proposed his measure in July, it surprised many when it gathered support from seven Republicans. But everyone notes that this time around, the proposal clearly lost any chance of passing after Sen. John Warner, the other Virginian and one of the most respected Republicans when it comes to military issues, dropped his support for the proposal. Despite everything that has happened, the vote “offered the most vivid evidence yet that the Bush administration still controls Iraq war policy,” says the Post.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates had previously spoken up against the proposal saying that it put too many restrictions on the military. The LAT details how Army officials lobbied moderate Republicans to reject the measure by pointing out that there were “two support units slated to go to Iraq in the next year whose tours would have to be delayed” if the proposal became law.

The Senate is expected to vote on other Iraq measures this week, but no one holds much hope for any of them. As the Post previewed yesterday, Democrats have now said they’re dropping attempts at compromise and will focus on “portraying Republicans as opposing any change,”  says the NYT.

Republican senators were also successful in blocking a measure that would have given terrorism detainees the right to challenge their incarcerations in federal courts. Six Republicans supported the bill, which fell four votes shy of the 60 needed to cut off debate.

The NYT and WP front a look at how Sunday’s shootout in Baghdad involving the private security company Blackwater USA has highlighted how those that work for the State Department are often exempt from regulations that affect Defense Department contractors. The Post points out that Iraqi authorities had already raised concerns about Blackwater’s “aggressive street tactics,” and yesterday the Interior Ministry said there have been six other cases in which the company’s guards fired on Iraqi civilians. Despite previous incidents, the State Department continued to protect the company. The shootout has once again raised concerns about how “thousands of heavily armed private soldiers in Iraq operate with virtual immunity,” says the NYT.

How many people actually died in Sunday’s shootout is still an open question as the numbers vary from “at least eight” to “as many as 28.”

USAT fronts an emotional story looking at the difficulties faced by Iraq war veterans who are alive today only because of the heroic actions of one of their comrades. At least five U.S. servicemembers were killed after they threw themselves on a grenade. The paper interviewed several of the survivors, who talked about their overwhelming guilt and the constant “feeling that they need to be worthy of the sacrifice.”

The Post fronts, while the LAT goes inside, with today’s rally in Jena, La., which some think could turn into a major civil rights march and is expected to attract thousands of people. Of course, much of the coverage deals with how those from Jena resent the attention that has engulfed their 3,000-person town after six black students were charged with attempted murder for beating up a white student.

The NYT is alone in fronting yesterday’s car bomb in Beirut that killed an anti-Syrian lawmaker and at least six other people. Antoine Ghanem was the eighth anti-Syrian figure, and fourth lawmaker, to be killed since 2005.

The LAT fronts, and everyone mentions, news that Dan Rather has filed a $70 million suit against his former employer, CBS. Rather claims the network violated his contract and damaged his reputation by making him a “scapegoat” for the discredited piece that questioned Bush’s National Guard service in order to “pacify the White House.” The NYT talked to Rather, who said he decided to file the lawsuit because he has recently uncovered new information and  still has questions about how everything was handled. The WP’s Howard Kurtz writes what is by far the harshest story  as he interviews several of Rather’s former colleagues, who basically say the move is ridiculous because Rather wants to portray himself as a bystander even though he did a lot of the reporting and pushed for the story.

The LAT and NYT point out that, just as was suspected, Kanye West easily beat out 50 Cent  in the much-publicized “fight” to see whose album would sell more. In the first week, West’s Graduation sold 957,000 copies while 50’s Curtis sold 691,000. “You can’t really spin it any other way: This is a high point in Mr. West’s career, and a low point in 50 Cent’s,” says the NYT. The real winner was clearly the distributor, Universal, as it was the first time since 1991 that two albums got first-week sales of more than 600,000. An op-ed in the LAT says this is just one more example of why, despite much talk to the contrary and decreasing sales, the album isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.