The Washington Post leads locally, devoting its top national spot to a nuanced look at the role two CIA officials played in establishing standards for the agency’s interrogation methods. James E. Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen advocated using harsher techniques but also pushed back against some of the most extreme ideas coming out of headquarters. The New York Times leads with 13 states making the difficult decision to increase health insurance subsidies for children, in spite of mounting budget shortfalls. The paper attributes the decision to new federal programs that pump even more money into states that pony up their own funds. The Los Angeles Times leads with another look at the state’s budget crisis, this time focusing on cuts to state services for the elderly and infirm. The paper says that eliminating these services would require many seniors to move into private nursing homes, which may end up raising the cost of private care for everyone.
Former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani spent much of his career trying to build consensus and avoid making waves, making his recent speech criticizing the government’s crackdown on election protests all the more unusual, writes the NYT. Rafsanjani took issue with the government’s response to election protests and called for the release of activist prisoners, saying the nation needed to reaffirm its republican traditions. Yet the speech was far from being a call to arms, as Rafsanjani still carefully hedged his bets by refraining from direct criticism of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
As if illegal border crossings weren’t dangerous enough, Mexican officials are now saying that drug traffickers are beginning to prey on would-be illegal immigrants, the LAT reports. Officials say the attacks stem from a growing number of immigrants trying to cross the border at the same places drug smugglers often use.
The WP fronts what could be the sports comeback story of the year, as Scottish golfer Tom Watson is within striking distance of winning the British Open, despite being 59 years old. Watson has won the tournament five times before, but his most recent victory was in 1983. If he wins this year, Watson will be the oldest person ever to win one of golf’s four greatest tournaments, besting the old record by 11 years.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates says that if the United States is going to be victorious in Afghanistan, forces stationed there need to show some improvement in the next 12 months, according to the LAT. Gates says that without signs that things are getting better in the war-torn nation, Americans may begin to tap their feet and ask what’s taking so long. Gates stresses that he doesn’t expect the war to be won in a year, but measurable successes will be key to maintaining momentum and morale.
An inquiry into Michael Jackson’s death is most likely not going to result in murder charges, the LAT reports under the fold. Some of Jackson’s family members have said they suspect “foul play,” but so far the investigation doesn’t seem to bear that out. Then again, the report also notes that the investigation seems be taking longer than expected, and law enforcement officials are keeping a range of options on the table, depending on what toxicology reports eventually show.
The NYT fronts more evidence that it is a really, really bad idea to send a text message or place a call while driving. Research shows that the level of distraction caused by a cell phone is the equivalent of a blood alcohol level of 0.08 and can quadruple a driver’s crash risk.
The roiling fortunes of several prominent Republican politicians may help boost Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour onto the national stage, writes the WP. Barbour’s resurgence is a bit of a throwback to better days, as Barbour served as Republican National Committee chairman during the 1994 midterms. Barbour says he doesn’t see a White House run in the cards, but he may still be angling to play a larger role in the party moving forward.
Parents are so concerned about their children getting into the college of their choice that they’re willing to hire professional admissions coaches at a cost of up to $40,000, according to the NYT. While some of these self-styled admissions coaches really have the goods, the paper notes that many are exaggerating their credentials and making impossible promises to fearful parents.
The NYT fronts a profile on JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon, exploring his growing clout in Washington as the financial crisis unfolds. The paper describes him as “perhaps the most credible voice of a discredited industry” and notes that his influence, like his company’s market position, has only improved with the banking meltdown. The paper notes that in many ways, Dimon has become the voice for many pro-Wall Street proposals that other bankers are simply too unpopular to suggest.
Under the fold, the LAT marvels at just how impressive the Saturn V rocket project that put men on the moon really was.
In the NYT’s op-ed section, Tom Wolfe weighs in on why the U.S. space program peaked with the moon landing and has never been the same since.