Today's Papers

House Passes Landmark Emissions Bill

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Timeslead with, and the Washington Post off-leads, the 219-212 passage of a sweeping House bill that would cap greenhouse gas emissions and shift the country toward new energy sources. The WP leads with President Obama’s consideration of an executive order to reassert the government’s authority to hold terror suspects indefinitely. The administration is worried that agreement with Congress over how to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay may be impossible.

The NYT spends its first couple of paragraphs establishing the climate bill’s historicity, saying it “could lead to profound changes in many sectors of the economy.” The WSJ words things more darkly, noting that the bill “will reach into almost every corner of the U.S. economy” if it somehow manages to survive the Senate, where moderate Democrats and Republicans could settle for “less ambitious action.” The bill aims to reduce U.S. carbon emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and 83 percent by 2050 by setting prices on carbon emitted by tons. Despite the landmark passage, roundly heralded as a major victory for President Obama’s legislative agenda, the vote pitted liberal coastal Democrats against heartland Democrats whose constituencies depend heavily on manufacturing jobs. Republicans insisted that the bill is a tax that will cripple the economy; their leader, John Boehner, R-Ohio, delayed the vote for an hour reading a 300-page amendment.

An executive order under consideration in the White House, the WP’s lead scoop reveals, would embrace George W. Bush’s claims that terror suspects can be held indefinitely without trial. Obama advisers are worried about angering key supporters, but also believe reaching consensus with Congress on a new detention system for Guantanamo detainees will be all but impossible. The administration has reviewed about half of the 242 detainees’ cases for either charges or release, but the remaining half cannot be prosecuted in U.S. courts or have been “tainted by the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation techniques.” Concern is growing among Obama advisers that Congress may try to meddle too much in the administration’s handling of those remaining detainees.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford issued another round of emotional apologies for his affair in a televised Cabinet meeting yesterday, but aides say he has no intention of resigning. Jenny Sanford, the governor’s wife, is the focus of a front-page NYT story, which paints her as a sturdy survivor with no interest in being a victim. Mrs. Sanford gave up her career as a New York investment banker to assist in her husband’s political ambitions—which she yesterday told a reporter is “no concern of mine.” She says she is working on her marriage, and friends say she was “never one to abandon her sense of identity, her direction, or her own opinions.” In an amusing WSJ story, Argentines consider their country’s “surprise role” in the Sanford sex scandal, suggesting they’re much more forgiving than Americans about such things.

The wave of Michael Jackson press turns from memorial to investigation, as the focus falls on the possible effects of his prescription drug use. Initial autopsy results were inconclusive, and it will take four to six weeks before toxicology tests reveal whether or not prescription medication played a part in Jackson’s cardiac arrest. The Los Angeles Police Department is placing its robbery and homicide division on the case because of its high-profile nature. Sony executives, meanwhile, are trying to get a grasp on the singer’s tattered finances. And the papers are by no means finished memorializing: Most of the LAT’s front-page real estate is devoted the King of Pop, including a story on his final rehearsal and a loving meditation on his loneliness. The WP “Style” section ruminates on Jackson’s musical legacy and recalls his “sense of style that never grew up“; the NYT remembers his  unique, unaparalleld dance stylings.

Iran once again makes the front pages, with the NYT reporting that the regime believes it has effectively silenced popular resentment of this month’s election result. An influential cleric suggests opposition leaders could be executed, and security forces have reinforced their already heavy presence in Tehran. The WP reveals that foreign governments, including China, Cuba, and Burma, are censoring news about Iran out of fear that the democratic spirit could spread to their own populations.

Aviation investigators suspect a rapid string of computer and equipment failures led to the crash of Air France Flight 447, which went down in the Atlantic Ocean on its way to Paris earlier this month, killing all 228 on board. The searchers have not been able to recover the plane’s “black boxes,” which would likely contain information explaining the crash.

A violent offshoot of the Minutemen, a citizen border patrol project that’s been getting press for a few years now, raided an Arizona home last month and killed two. Three members of cultish group were arrested for the murders, and their anti-immigrant convictions are described as “extreme, at times frightening, even to people accustomed to hard-line views on border policing.” 

WP television critic Tom Shales reviews the premiere of Hung, a new HBO comedy about a well-endowed guy who ventures into prostitution. (Shales blames editors and propriety for his use of only single-entrendes; if you like your reviews with double-entendres, Slate’s Troy Patterson came up with a few.) Shales says the show’s miserable lead character is “about as lovable as snakes on a plane—either the actual occurrence or the horrendous movie of that name.”