Today's Papers

Exit Russert

The New York Times leads with Saudi Arabia’s planning to increase its oil production by a half-million barrels a day. The Washington Post leads locally with a three-clicker on a power failure that severely disrupted downtown D.C. yesterday morning, exposing the vulnerability of the city’s infrastructure. The WP’s top national spot goes to key Iraqi leaders’ delivering setbacks to the United States, with the prime minister rejecting long-term plans for a U.S. troop presence and an opposition leader calling for renewed resistance. The Los Angeles Times leads with the weakening political clout of the National Rifle Association, which may have become a victim of its own success because Democratic politicians are weary of and voters are bored with gun issues. The Wall Street Journal gives its top news spot to word that voters in Ireland rejected a plan to strengthen the European Union. All the papers front obituaries for TV journalist Tim Russert, who died of a heart attack on the job at NBC yesterday morning.

The WP reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, during a trip to Jordan, said that negotiations had reached a “dead end” between U.S. and Iraqi politicians for a continued U.S. presence in the country. And Moqtada al-Sadr, the anti-American Shiite cleric, beckoned his followers to begin a new offensive against U.S. troops. A Sadr spokesman says the plan is to reorganize Sadr’s Mahdi Army from a militia into a peaceful organization with a single secretive wing devoted to attacking American forces. Both developments represent major setbacks to the Bush administration, says the WP.

That Saudi Arabia wants to increase production is a sign that the world’s largest oil exporter is nervous about the worldwide political and economic consequences of high oil prices, says the NYT. The high prices could eventually lead to reduced demand as alternative fuels threaten the oil-based economy. The Times obtained this information with anonymous analysts who asked not to be identified. The White House welcomed the news, but some of the secret analysts are skeptical that Saudi Arabia even has the capacity to increase production.

The WP’s Howard Kurtz credits Tim Russert with revolutionizing Sunday morning television. Kurtz reports that news of his death swept the capital like a shock wave and that cable news treated the event like the death of a head of state. The LAT print-edition headline calls Russert the “Everyman of TV politics.” The NYT says he played an “increasingly outsize role in the news media’s coverage of politics.” Russert was stricken while recording an introduction for Meet the Press in an NBC sound booth. TP hopes that when his time comes, he too gets to drop dead doing something he loves (that would be writing TP, of course).

Europe is in turmoil, says the WSJ, after Irish voters gave the thumbs-down to a treaty that would have given the European Union its first president, created an EU diplomatic service, and made it easier for the bloc to make decisions. All 26 member nations need to ratify the treaty for it to pass. Irish folks rejected the plan for a number of reasons, including fears that it might force the country to raise its low corporate taxes or bring cheap imports that would hurt local agriculture. The NYT’s Page One piece also says Europe is in turmoil.

The LAT off-leads a report on the sightings of unidentified flying objects above a town in Texas and how said sightings have utterly taken over the town. The wife of a trucking company owner begged her husband not to tell anybody that he thought he’d seen strange lights one night, but the man immediately called newspapers the next morning and discovered he was not alone. During the ensuing media frenzy, a Japanese film crew promulgated the theory that aliens were buzzing the town because they love milk and the town has lots of cows. Soon, there were T-shirts. But nobody claims to have seen little green men.

The WP and the NYT both front stories on record flooding in Iowa, which has forced massive evacuations and destroyed crops. The Times emphasizes that the entire Midwest region is suffering from extreme weather, while the Post focuses more closely on Iowa. Both papers compare the current situation to the massive flooding that occurred in 1993.

The WSJ reports that some white folks are questioning the necessity of affirmative action in light of Barack Obama’s very viable presidential candidacy, which the paper says may have created a turning point in the debate over such policies. The WSJ says the issue is likely to dog Obama throughout the rest of his campaign as he tries to woo blue-collar whites in battleground states.

The NYT fronts a piece on information overload—too much e-mail, in other words—at tech firms, “the very companies that helped create the flood.”

Best headline of the day belongs to the WSJ:In Argentina, Che Guevara Finally Gets More Than a Lousy T-Shirt.” The Marxist guerrilla’s Argentine hometown is putting up a statue in his honor.