Today's Papers

Recession Lessened

The New York Times leads with word that the U.S. economy lost 20,000 jobs in April. The bad news is that it’s the fourth consecutive month of losses. The good news is that most analysts expected the losses to be much worse, and some call the better-than-expected numbers a sign that the economy may not be entering a recession. The Los Angeles Times leads with news that the Federal Reserve said yesterday it would give money to big banks to prevent the nation’s financial system from “seizing up.” The Washington Post leads with the first deployment of U.S.-funded Palestinian security forces in the West Bank. The forces are hitting the streets undertrained and underequipped. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with election results from England: The Labour Party suffered its worst loss in 40 years, coming in third behind the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

The LAT reports that forecasters had expected as many as 85,000 jobs to be shed in April. Despite the not-so-terrible losses, U.S. workers are still feeling pinched, thanks to lessening hours and low wages, reports the NYT. The private research organization that officially determines whether the nation is in recession defines a recession as a “significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months.” The Times does not venture a guess at whether the current situation fits the description. Instead, the paper reaches for soon-to-be-laid-off factory worker to illustrate its piece. In its front-page take, the WSJ comes up with an unemployed construction worker but rounds out the optimistic view with a man who found a new job at an Audi store one month after getting axed by a Volvo dealership. 

The LAT notes that the Fed’s move to pump cash into banks came shortly after it signed off on tough new regulations for the credit card industry. The two initiatives show that the current Fed chairman, unlike his predecessor, is willing to be aggressive in disparate areas of the economy.

The WP reports that the multimillion dollar training program for West Bank security forces, designed to strengthen the Palestinian Authority, is sending its first class into action without some important gear—like helmets, for example. The Post says the lack of equipment is due to interference from Israel. But that doesn’t explain the force’s unpreparedness. In a final phase of training, some members of the security force “killed” each other in a simulated-combat exercise, according to an unnamed source, who also tells the Post that training supervisors wasted lots of time putting on “dog-and-pony shows” for U.S. congressional delegations. A State Department official in Washington, also anonymous, calls the allegation “complete baloney.”

The NYT mentions the new security force in a front-page piece looking at the dilemma posed to Israel by its recent success in preventing suicide bombings. Israel’s tactics—nightly raids and arrests in the West Bank— complicate the effort for lasting peace.

Prepare to die, murderers: The U.S. government is ready to start killing you again. The NYT reports that states’ execution dockets are filling up after the recent Supreme Court ruling that lifted a moratorium on capital punishment. At least 14 executions are scheduled to take place by October. The Times scores a prison interview with the oldest man on Texas’ death row, who says, “If it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go.”

The WP fronts the Chinese government’s surprisingly hands-off reaction to trouble in the stock market there, which has hurt small investors hardest. Regulators stepped in only last week after six months of watching the market crash, during which time several investors who had gambled and lost their savings committed suicide. Some are angry at the Chinese government, but analysts say it’s time to get used to less regulation. One analyst offers a little tough love: “You lose money, you jump out the window, too bad. It’s your problem.”

Colleges and universities are hotbeds of support for presidential candidate Barack Obama, but enthusiasm for the Illinois senator hasn’t quite bridged racial divides on campus, according to the WSJ. Social self-segregation persists despite shared fervor for Obama. The WSJ offers the scene at Duke University as a typical example.

The WP off-leads a profile of President Bush in his final year on the job. Bush is unwilling to play lame duck, the Post reports, and insists on fighting hopeless battles with the Democratic Congress. Sources say the stubbornness will contribute to Bush’s legacy as a “man of principle.”

The WSJ fronts the search for the next Howard Stern, who left a talent vacuum when he vacated his seat with CBS. Radio bigwigs see promise in Adam Carolla, of Loveline and The Man Show fame. The WSJ gives lots of space to the failed on-air dynamic between Carolla and Danny Bonaduce, who says he offered “quick wit” and “reasonable knowledge of current events.” Carolla pretended to be ill to avoid working with him.

The NYT fronts a photo teasing an inside story about the battle in Los Angeles over taco trucks, whose business some local legislators want curbed. Taco lovers are honking mad. The LAT had the story a couple days ago.