Today's Papers

Stop Loss

The New York Times leads with news that the Catholic Church may change some rules governing its approach to sexual abuse cases. The Los Angeles Times lead says the worst of the credit crisis may be over–then warns that actually it probably isn’t. The Washington Post lead says Franklin Raines, a former Fannie Mae exec accused of earnings manipulation, has reached a $24.7 million settlement with the government. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the Pope’s human rights speech at the UN.

Cardinal William Levada, who handles sex abuse cases for the Vatican, surprised reporters at a Time luncheon when he casually mentioned that the Church may alter relevant canon law. The Church will likely tweak the statute of limitations, which is now so short that it discourages victims abused at a young age from coming forward.

The Dow is at a 3 month high after Citigroup posted less-than-feared quarterly losses–having shed a reassuring amount of bad debt and excess junior analysts. (The NYT fronts a piece on the human cost of these layoffs–hundreds of Ivy League grads lost their new jobs at Bear Stearns; and many are being asked to sign contracts saying they won’t sue.) However, the LAT warns, the rally might be a mirage presaging more economic misery.

Details of the case against Franklin D. Raines are scarce, and this settlement will ensure they stay that way. But the WP does have a detailed breakdown on how Raines will pay, including a return of $15.6 million in currently-worthless stock options, and $2 million covered by a Fannie Mae insurance policy.

There are three other Pope stories today and the papers all deal with them differently, splitting and recombining elements like Lego blocks:

First, the Pope held a surprise private meeting with a handful of abuse victims–the first such meeting in history. The NYT stuffs this meeting, preferring to focus on its unexpected scoop, while the WP fronts its moving account of the event as part of a piece on Catholic ambivalence about the Pope’s approach to abuse.

Second, the ambivalence. Catholics are glad the Pope is taking the Church sex scandals seriously. But some fear there won’t be real change until he disciplines the bishops who covered for abusive priests. The WP fronts this piece, as discussed above; while the NYT stuffs it inside its canon law lead.

Third, the Pope spoke on human rights and science ethics at the UN, and visited a synagogue on the Upper East Side (why not drop by the Strand or catch a show while he’s at it?)–a story the WSJ reefers and the other papers stuff.

The NYT fronts an “uproar” caused by a Chinese arms shipment to Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. The freighter docked in South Africa, prompting moral outrage, protests, and legal challenges–further calling into question China and South Africa’s role in Zimbabwe’s election.

The LAT fronts, the WSJ reefers, and the WP and NYT stuff the release of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.’s tax returns, yet the McCain campaign refused to release his wife’s. Take away: “The disclosures from 2006 and 2007 indicate that he spent most of his own income, suggesting that Cindy McCain funds their lifestyle.”

The LAT fronts a look at how the immigration battle transformed Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff from the nation’s anti-terrorism boss into America’s “border czar,” where his duties include managing construction of the border fence.

A WP front says the U.S. Olympic Team won’t aim for a certain amount of medals this year, citing previous doping scandals. The U.S. team doing all it can just to ensure the Americans come off as clean and well-behaved.

An LAT front says China is also trying to be on good behavior. Having fanned nationalism to redirect questions about Tibet, China’s internet police are now deleting all references to protests against the West.

The WP goes up top with a look inside U.S.-trained Afghan special ops teams, a bright spot in NATO’s Afghanistan operation. The Afghans are now standing in for U.S. soldiers in many of situations, and sometimes doing a better job.

The NYT fronts a look at Brazil’s crackdown on illegal logging, dubbed Operation Arc of Fire. Not surprisingly, local officials are pushing back, decrying the “militaristic approach to saving trees.”

The NYT fronts news that American Airlines is blaming the FAA for its recent troubles–saying the FAA has been erratic and unclear about airworthiness guidelines. The FAA disagrees.

All the papers go inside with a 5.2 magnitude earthquake that shook Chicago and Cincinnati.

The WSJ reefers, and the other papers stuff Obama endorsements from former Senators Sam Nunn and David Boren, as well as former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

The NYT goes inside with a GAO ruling that the Bush administration violated federal law when it tried to stop states from expanding the popular S-CHIP program, which provides health care to children.

Is the fairy tale over? Inside, the NYT reports on rumors that President Putin is divorcing his loyal wife, Ludmyla, for a 24-year old Olympic gymnast. When asked about the rumor, Putin replied tartly. Moskovsky Korrespondent, the paper that originally reported on the issue, was immediately “suspended for financial reasons.”