Today's Papers

Gone to Carolina

The Washington Post leads with, and the Los Angeles Times fronts, news that a Senate coalition will try to expand on the economic stimulus package recently agreed to in the House—defying President Bush and conceivably unraveling the current compromise. The New York Times leads with news that state and local governments are struggling to pay for infrastructure projects as the cost of labor, materials, and fuel skyrockets.

The Wall Street Journal tops its worldwide newsbox with, and the WP fronts, polls for today’s South Carolina primary: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., is ahead, but he’s lost support among white voters. The LAT lead is unavailable due to tech issues.

The House stimulus package—which has been criticized by economists as too little, too late—will soon face competition. A “bipartisan coalition of Northeastern and Midwestern senators” says it will push for more spending on unemployment benefits, heating assistance, food stamps, and funds for low-income senior citizens. President Bush and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are worried that more wrangling will delay the stimulus and even unravel the bipartisan consensus in the House.

State and local governments committed to a number of infrastructure projects when there were low interest rates and steady property tax revenues. Now, building booms as far away as China and India have inflated construction costs, forcing at least 25 states into budget deficits. This graphic gets the point across succinctly.

South Carolina Democrats are divided along racial lines heading into today’s presidential primary. Obama holds a commanding lead with black voters, but his share of white votes has dropped from 20 percent to 10 percent, leaving Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and former Sen. John Edwards with a duopoly over the remaining 90 percent.

The Clinton and Obama campaigns are already pivoting toward states that will vote on Typhoon Tuesday (Feb. 5). Obama has retooled his speeches to deal with economic issues—a big change from his usual focus on ending partisanship. He’s heading to black voter strongholds in Georgia and Alabama next.

Hillary Clinton urged her convention delegates to support the inclusion of Michigan and Florida’s votes (which will also go to Clinton) in the final tally, even though those states are being penalized for violating Democratic Party rules. Analysts say she’s trying to up the PR value of a likely victory in Florida.

The NYT goes up top with news that the French bank employee blamed for a fraud that caused $7.2 billion in damages was “quiet” and “average”—hardly the Machiavellian genius his employers made him out to be. TP still thinks he sounds like a serial killer.

While insisting “it’s too early to write Giuliani’s campaign obituary,” the WP fronts what is basically a Giuliani deathwatch—filled with examples of Rudy’s ineptitude at retail politics: He often refuses to shake hands or take questions from voters. The WSJ front says basically the same thing, though it calls his willingness to alienate voters a “daredevil strategy” instead of portraying it as plain clueless.

The NYT also fronts a look at Sen. John McCain’s, R-Ariz., economic policies. He’s touting tax cuts and insisting he’s an unabashed market conservative—all the while invoking progressive trust-buster Teddy Roosevelt.

The NYT goes inside with news that the Democratic primary race is holding world attention like no U.S. election before. The hype is driven by Obama and Clinton’s sparkling personalities, and, put politely, Bush fatigue.

The WP fronts news that middle-class citizens in Shanghai are staging increasingly sophisticated revolts—they now involve PowerPoint presentations—to protect their interests in the face of government development projects.

The LAT fronts, and the NYT goes inside with news that Palestinians used bulldozers to knock down more sections of the wall between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Egypt tried to plug the original opening, but that didn’t work, so it’s letting Palestinians bring goods—including cows and motorcycles—back across the border. Meanwhile, Israel is worried Hamas has sent suicide bombers through the breach.

Over all domains, England reigns … Last summer, Gordon Brown announced measures to bolster the U.K.’s sense of Britishness—mandating, among other things, the development of a non-slogan that will define what it means to be British.

The idea attracted derision in the Times of London and the House of Lords—although the slogan “No Motto Please, We’re British” has gained some traction. Indeed, if the United Kingdom needs a new anthem, TP humbly suggests “London Underground” by the Amateur Transplants (not linked, due to profanity).