The Los Angeles Timesand New York Timeslead with Senate and House negotiators agreeing on legislation that would require states to ensure that people who are issued driver's licenses are in the country legally. The LAT also highlights other immigration-friendly bits in the measure, including tightened restrictions on asylum and money to complete the border fence between California and Mexico. The NYT says the measures, which the Senate had shied away from, are not completely finalized but are "all but certain to pass." USA Todayleads with a study showing that people making $60,000-plus are now just about as chubby as the lumpen: About 30 percent of what USAT dubs the "affluent" are obese, up from 10 percent in the early 1970s. The Washington Postleads with the Virginia-based MCI accepting an $8.5 billion buyout offer from Verizon.
The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the latest from Iraq, where about two dozen Iraqis were killed by insurgents. There were three suicide car bombs in Baghdad alone. About 140 Iraqis have been killed since the government was picked last week.
As everybody mentions, two Navy F-18 fighters appear to have collided over southern Iraq. There is no evidence of hostile fire, or of survivors.The military also announced that a GI was killed near the Baghdad airport, while Britain's defense ministry said a British soldier was killed by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad.
According to late-night wire reports, 12 Iraqis were killed and two wounded, including a 6-year-old girl, in fighting near the Syrian border. The military said most of those killed were militants. Six GIs were also wounded.
Knight Ridder catches on to the latest trend in Iraq: "beatings and intimidation of Iraqi reporters" by Iraqi security forces. One photographer was beaten up after snapping shots of long gas lines. "Tell me to cover anything except the police," said one journalist after recruits taunted him with death threats.
In what the LAT dubs a "concession to the military realities," the Pentagon's top general, Richard Myers, gave Congress a report yesterday acknowledging all this fighting in Afghanistan and particularly in Iraq means the military might just be up the creek should it need to jump into a fight elsewhere. "The assessment is that we would succeed, but there would be higher casualties and more collateral damage," said an unnamed Defense official. "We would have to win uglier."
The NYT mentions that Myer's assessment doesn't exactly jibe with the answer President Bush gave at last week's press conference when he said Myers had assured him "he didn't feel a bit limited." The president added, "It feels like we got plenty of capacity." As Phil Carter detailed for Slate, a study back in December 2003 said the Army was near its "breaking point." (The report Myer's filed is done annually. So, what did it say last year?)
Most of the papers go inside with Pvt. Lynndie England (of the leash fame) pleading guilty to abusing inmates at Abu Ghraib. Under her plea deal, she's expected to be sentenced to just a couple of years. But the interesting thing isn't the deal, it's that it almost didn't go off: As the Post flags, the judge nearly didn't accept England's plea after England said she had been ordered to pose with the prisoner and didn't know what she had done wrong. The court adjourned for a bit, England's lawyer gave her a talking to, and England returned to say her actions were "not only morally wrong but legally wrong. I had a choice, but I chose what my friends wanted me to do."
USAT fronts a poll showing nothing good for the Social Security plan Bush floated last week. It was opposed 54 percent to 38 percent. Asked to choose between raising taxes and curbing benefits, 53 percent picked hiking taxes.
Everybody mentions the Supreme Court agreeing to rule on whether law schools have the right to ban military recruiters from their campuses without losing federal funds.
The Post's off-lead reminds that the government is a bit behind the eight ball on preparing for the possibility of a terrorist nuke attack. Apparently, public education in particular is lacking. Still, the Homeland Security's Ready.gov does have some handy tips in the event of a detonation in your city. For instance: Find yourself about a block away from the blast? "Consider if you can get out of the area."