The Washington Post leads with news that a leftist candidate, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has won Brazil's presidential election by a big margin, but he didn't get an outright majority, so there will be a runoff in three weeks. With about 80 percent of the votes counted, Lula, as he is known, has won 47 percent of the electorate. The New York Times leads with the results of big NYT/CBS News poll on the administration, the economy, and Iraq: 67 percent of respondents said they would support a war to take out Saddam. But 63 percent also said that before the U.S. goes after him, it should "give the UN more time to get weapons inspectors" in. The poll also concluded that Americans think the economy is in the dumps and that Bush isn't doing enough to pull it out of there. USA Today leads with, and everybody stuffs, yesterday's explosion, and subsequent fire, on a French oil tanker off the shores of Yemen. Nobody is sure yet what happened, though many suspect terrorism. The Los Angeles Times leads with news of a Senate committee report charging that the SEC should have caught the Enron malfeasance but didn't because the agency was super-lax in enforcing its own regulations.
Everybody says that unless Lula hits some unexpected kinks, he'll win a runoff and give Brazil its first leftist president in years. Foreign investors favored Lula's more conservative opponent, but Lula has tried to calm down investors fears by moderating his positions. Among other things, he's said that he won't default on Brazil's foreign debt. The LAT points out that he's even named a conservative businessman as his running mate. The Wall Street Journal says that investors have long expected Lula to win, so they probably won't freak out when the markets open today.
In a country that has, as the WP puts it, "a vast poor population and a tiny privileged ruling class," the NYT's Larry Rohter interviews four Brazilian voters: a teacher, a lawyer, an economist, and a doctor.
In the NYT's poll, only 41 percent of respondents approved of Bush's economic handiwork, the lowest rating on that of his presidency. Sixty-nine percent of respondents—including 51 percent of Republicans—said that Bush should pay more attention to the economy.
Most of the poll's questions seem fairly worded, but a few are a wee bit leading. One example: "Overall is Congress asking enough questions about President Bush's policy toward Iraq?" Actually, there could be plenty of other examples, but the Times—in what is standard operating practice for the papers—doesn't post all the questions and data from its poll. Why not? It'd be pretty useful (at least for TP!) and presumably pretty easy. (If you think the Times should do that, let 'em know.) Also, for poll junkies: Here's CBS's version.
The owners of the now-burning oil tanker off Yemen said they think it was a terrorist attack, explaining that the ship's crew saw a small boat move next to it, and then the men onboard heard a huge explosion. Yemeni officials, who according to the WP spoke with the tanker's captain, said they think it was just an accident. But as most papers point out, the now-abandoned ship had a double-hull, meaning that a fender-bender almost certainly couldn't have caused such an explosion. There were 26 crewmembers on board. None were known to have been killed, but one is missing. The papers mention that U.S. officials warned last month that al-Qaida was looking to hit tankers in the Gulf. Curious how many U.S. reporters are currently in the Gulf? Here's a hint: The WP is the only paper whose story on this is filed from the region (Kuwait). Others are datelined "Paris."
According to late-night reports, at least 10 Palestinians were killed and about 100 wounded when Israeli tanks and helicopters raided the Gaza Strip this morning. Apparently, most of the people were injured after an Israeli chopper fired a missile into a crowd.
USAT fronts a thoughtful "Cover Story" pointing out that DNA testing hasn't yet fulfilled its much-heralded potential. The problem isn't the science itself, it's that states have done a spotty job of building systems to take advantage of such evidence. Just four states—Virginia, Florida, Illinois, and New York—have accounted for 56 percent of all DNA matches in the feds database.
A Post editorial slams the press for having underplayed last week's ferry sinking in Senegal that killed about 1,000 people. In a pretty honest—but ultimately unclear—bit, the paper suggests that its own news coverage was part of the problem: "The disaster was reported around the world, including in this newspaper, but mostly it was a story for the inside pages." The Post had four dispatches on the sinking, all wire copy, all inside, and all about 400 words. For the record: Today's Papers didn't mention the disaster. It should have.
The WP goes inside with its coverage of the report by a Senate committee, headed by Sen. Joe Lieberman, that lambasted the SEC for its "systemic and catastrophic failure" to protect investors. Unlike the LAT, which led with the story, the Post reminds readers that back in the 1990s Congress repeatedly blocked attempts to strengthen the SEC. According to former SEC chief Arthur Levitt, who had lobbied (unsuccessfully) for that strengthening, "none was a more formidable foe than Sen. Joe Lieberman."