Today's Papers

Pump It Up

The New York Timesleads with the Federal Reserve and four central banks in North America and Europe announcing a plan to pump billions of dollars into financial institutions. The plan, which is aimed at making credit more readily available, is the biggest international effort of its kind since the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It was the Fed’s latest attempt to prevent the current credit woes from turning into a full-blown recession, but few are confident the effort will be successful. The Washington Postleads with word that the report by former Sen. George Mitchell on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, which will be released today, will implicate at least 60 current and former players, “including past winners of the league’s Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards.”

The Wall Street Journal leads its world-wide newsbox with the three car bombs that exploded in a southern Iraqi city that had been relatively peaceful and killed at least 41 people. It was the worst attack since August and came as British troops prepare to hand over control of the neighboring Basra province. USA Todayleads with a look at how rising fuel prices are causing “a crisis” among the poor who can’t afford to heat their homes. Applications for heating subsidies are on the rise, but even that isn’t a solution because the one-time aid pays for only two weeks’ worth of heating oil. The Los Angeles Timesleads with news that stores in California are busy removing children’s jewelry from shelves after state investigators found 15 items that were contaminated with lead.

The Fed announced the new plan to make $40 billion in loans readily available to U.S. banks a day after it reduced interest rates and the markets yawned. Reactions to yesterday’s plan were similarly muted, and early gains were lost by the end of the day. The LAT notes up high that the Fed is trying to prevent problems in the global economy at a time when many see U.S. exports as one of the few things that is keeping the national economy from tanking even further. But some say this sort of fix is just temporary (a “Band-Aid,” is how one analyst described it to USAT) and doesn’t address the biggest threat, which is the downturn in the housing market. And, as the WSJ notes, “a lack of cheap funding” is only one part of the problem because as long as financial institutions continue to post big mortgage-related losses they’re going to “remain suspicious of each other.”

The Post says the baseball report will criticize “all levels of the sport” for turning a blind eye to steroids for so many years and will call for changes in its drug-testing program. The NYT, whose source apparently read the report while the Post’s information comes from people who were briefed on its findings, says it will be highly critical of Commissioner Bud Selig. Criticism of the players’ union was widely expected, but a rebuke of Selig “would be more unexpected and would seemingly prove Mitchell’s claim of independence,” says the Times. The WP cautions that it’s possible no new names will be known today since so many have already been implicated. The NYT notes most of the names came from Kirk Radomski, the former New York Mets clubhouse attendant who pleaded guilty to distributing steroids and agreed to provide information as part of a plea deal.

The WSJ goes inside with a look at how global oil supply has been increasing recently because of the extra barrels that are coming out of Iraq, which has seen its supply go back to pre-invasion levels. While there are doubts the trend can be maintained, the increased revenue could help the Iraqi government restore basic services.

USAT fronts word that a record number of soldiers have committed suicide this year. Army statistics report 109 confirmed or suspected cases, which would equal a rate of 18.4 per 100,000 compared with the 2004 civilian suicide rate of 11 per 100,000. Some say the Army hasn’t done enough to remove the stigma that surrounds mental-health issues.

Meanwhile, the WP fronts word that while Americans have been giving millions of dollars to charities that were set up to help veterans, several of the groups spend much more money on overhead and administrative costs than on contributing to their cause.

The NYT notes on Page One that the chief judge of Guantanamo’s military commissions wrote a paper back in 2002 as a master’s student that argued in favor of trying suspects in federal courts. Col. Ralph Kohlmann wrote that any type of military tribunal would have a “credibility problem.” An ACLU lawyer said the report is “perplexing” since Kohlmann seems to agree with much of what the critics of the military tribunals have been saying.

Meanwhile, back in Congress, CIA Director Michael Hayden acknowledged that the agency didn’t do enough to keep lawmakers informed about the secret interrogation tapes and their destruction. Lawmakers vowed to continue investigating.

In other congressional news, both the WP and the WSJ front a look at how Democrats in the Senate and Democrats in the House are blaming one another for their failure to pass legislation. Senate Democrats say House members keep passing measures that have no hope, while House Democrats accuse their colleagues in the Senate of letting Republicans run the show.

While presidential hopefuls are busy campaigning, the WSJ notes inside that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg continues to quietly watch the developments to see if there’s an opening for his own White House bid. Insiders say that if the parties choose divisive (Sen. Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani) or “outside the center” (John Edwards, Mike Huckabee) candidates, it could push Bloomberg to throw his hat in the race.

Everyone notes the death of Ike Turner, the influential R&B musician who is widely credited with being an early rock ’n’ roll pioneer but later in life became infamously known as Tina Turner’s abusive husband. He was 76.