USA Today leads with a scoop: The EPA, in an unannounced decision, has reversed a 25-year-old ban on the sale of land polluted with PCBs. According to an internal memo, the agency decided that the ban was "an unnecessary barrier to redevelopment [and] may actually delay the clean-up of contaminated properties." As an EPA official pointed out, the new owners will still need to clean up any PCBs on their land. One analyst said the larger problem is that the agency doesn't have the resources to monitor the coming sales and track down the new owners. The Washington Post leads with President Bush's Labor Day speech in which he acknowledged that tax cuts aren't completely cutting it and that he'll do more to create manufacturing jobs. The New York Times leads with the Iraqi Governing Council naming 25 people to head the country's ministries. As the Los Angeles Times notes in its off-lead, it "remains vague" what actual power these folks will have. The ministers were appointed along exact ethnic lines. The LAT leads with California Gov. Gray Davis and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante doing recall stumping at union-sponsored events.
The WP notes that Bush said "little specific" about how he intends to create jobs. The article's headline doesn't exactly focus on that: "BUSH: INDUSTRY TO GET BOOST." The one specific move Bush mentioned was the creation of an assistant secretary of commerce for manufacturing. He also obliquely referenced plans for the U.S. to pressure China to increase the value of its currency so imports into the U.S. aren't so cheap.
The NYT's David Sanger, perhaps ticked off he had to work on Labor Day, wallops Bush. His story begins, "Since the last time President Bush addressed a Labor Day picnic—with carpenters in Pennsylvania—the economy has lost 700,000 jobs." He goes on to call the assistant secretary proposal "the kind of action that Republicans, when they were out of office, used to criticize." As Sanger notes, Bush didn't say what the new assistant secretary, who the president hasn't nominated yet, will do.
None of the other papers compare with Sanger's feisty coverage. The LAT's piece is particularly disappointing. It skips examining the substance of Bush's speech and instead drones on and on about the political ramifications. Among its piercing insights: The speech "suggests White House officials believe that Democratic criticism of Bush's economic performance cannot go unanswered."
The NYT off-leads word that Chinese officials are preparing to give in a bit to the U.S. and end some subsidies for exporters. But Chinese officials also told the paper that they have no intention of giving in to the U.S.'s main demand, that China allow the value of its currency to float. Despite that, the NYT's headline declares victory, "CHINA SEEN READY TO CONCILIATE U.S. ON TRADE AND JOBS."
Though the NYT leads with the Governing Council's ministry appointments, the article's reporter, Dexter Filkins, seems less than convinced about the new ministers' powers. He spends most of the article detailing how council members are freaked out because they don't have American troops guarding them. "The Governing Council could become a morgue," one council member told Iraq boss Paul Bremer.
The WP fronts a head-turning stat: Almost 10 U.S. soldiers per day are being wounded in Iraq. Since the war began 1,124 have been wounded, twice as many as were wounded in the first Gulf War. The Post says attacks have become so common that the military is putting out press releases on those wounded only if somebody else actually died in the attack. "The result," says the WP, "is that many injuries go unreported."
A front-page LAT piece announces, "RESISTANCE IN IRAQ IS HOME GROWN." The reporter, Tracy Wilkinson, cites interviews with a dozen Americans and Iraqis. But she never quotes one of them supporting the article's thesis. On the other hand, Wilkinson did interview at least one Iraqi who was recruited by guerrillas, so she has some good color. "He spoke to me like officer to soldier, master to slave," the potential guerrilla recalled of his recruiter. The guy didn't sign up and is now in hiding.
The WP's off-lead notices that foreign governments are giving the U.S. the hand and refusing to pledge much money for the reconstruction of Iraq. A conference for potential donors is slated for October, but interest in giving is so low that some U.N. officials have suggested postponing it. The White House apparently isn't into that idea.
Everybody notes inside that an audiotape purportedly from Saddam surfaced yesterday, and he or somebody sounding just like him denied any role in last week's car bombing in Najaf.
In its piece on the audiotape, the WP continues to point out that the men who've been arrested in connection with the bombing probably had nothing to do with it, and despite allegations to the contrary probably aren't connected to al-Qaida. "Until you have solid evidence to go down that road, it can only be speculation," said one Marine officer. (The LAT's and network news' coverage of the attacks has been notably uncritical.)
The Wall Street Journal notices on Page One that owners of the major TV networks are banding together and lobbying Congress to support the FCC's recent decision loosening media ownership rules. Public sentiment is way against the rules, and Congress is considering overturning them. No matter. The networks are running ads in some Washington publications this week announcing, "America Says: Don't Get Between Me and My TV."