The New York Times and Los Angeles Timeslead with President Bush's trade meeting in Argentina, where protesters demonstrated—some in violent riots—and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hosted a peaceful anti-U.S. rally in a nearby soccer stadium. The Washington Postleads with FEMA's decision to provide the maximum relief ($26,200) to all homeowners in nine parishes and counties presumed to be entirely flooded by Katrina or Rita. The Wall Street Journal's top box features economy numbers showing slow job creation but a big wage increase.
While the anti-Bush and anti-free-trade protests in Argentina make for good headlines, the real news comes after the jump in these front-pagers. Mexico's President Vicente Fox favors Bush's plan for a hemisphere-wide free-trade zone, but the LAT's excellent story says he's discouraged that the talks are so "politicized." That may not doom the pact, according to the WSJ, as Mexican officials said they want the free-trade zone even if Venezuela and Brazil have to be excluded. The WPreports that Argentina's President Nestor Kirchner was skeptical overall, but said Bush's candid conversations with him signaled that some kind of pact could be reached.
Paris is still burning—and still getting below-the-fold coverage. In addition to nine straight days of riots and protests in the city's poorest immigrant suburbs, new violence has erupted in three towns far from Paris. The WP blandly describes the current situation. While President Jacques Chirac has yet to deliver a major address, Muslim community leaders have started meeting to figure out how to curb the violence. Some suburbs are planning anti-riot protests for the weekend. The NYT's more incisive story looks at possible explanations, highlighted by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy's anti-crime measures.
For more insight, don't miss Craig S. Smith's graphic piece in the NYT about a new wave of workers from central and southern Africa determinedly heading to Europe (via Spain, which has liberal immigration controls) as AIDS and other diseases devastate their home countries.
The WP front-pager on Republican guilt about the pork-laden highway bill is good, but it buries the lead: during a Heritage Foundation appearance, Tom DeLay apologized for spearheading the bill. (Granted, he blamed Democrats for scuttling Republican pork-cutting efforts.) Meanwhile, the WSJ reports that Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (genesis of the infamous $223 million "bridge to nowhere") successfully argued for more money for rural telecommunications in another bill while Democrats had to concede cuts for a legal aid program for the poor.
The NYT goes off-lead with a U.N. audit report demanding that the United States repay Iraq millions of dollars used to pay a Halliburton subsidiary for shoddy contract work done at inflated prices. Stay tuned: The Pentagon is under pressure to release its own internal audits.
Gov. Schwarzenegger's stalled attempt to generate enthusiasm for his ballot measures gets the big feature in the WSJ and a below-the-fold take in the LAT. His fight against powerful but popular unions representing police, firefighters, and school teachers hasn't played well, both papers conclude.
The LAT fronts an investigation finding that Arizona's voting laws—designed to keep illegal immigrants away from the polls—will also deny many legitimate voters.
Off-lead, the LAT profiles the reluctant lead witness for the Harrisburg, Pa., school board's defense of intelligent design, portraying him as a modest skeptic rather than as a creationist firebrand. Inside, the NYT summarizes the closing arguments.
There's a lot of news from the Hill. The Senate again voted to ban torture of prisoners, including by the CIA, but the LAT says that Dick Cheney personally appealed to the Congress to retain a CIA exemption. (Currently, the House's Pentagon spending bill has no ban at all.) Democrats who convinced Republicans to reopen an inquiry into the White House's pre-war intelligence are now asking the Senate to slow things down, fearing that Republicans will otherwise avoid the tough questions, according to the NYT.
Finally, some news about Phillies-wannabe Samuel Alito. Senators—notably liberal Richard Durbin of Illinois—praise Alito's willingness to discuss issues candidly, reports the WP. That includes abortion: "He satisfied me that he recognized this to be one of the unenumerated rights in the Constitution," Durbin said. But his deference to executive power (WP) and big business (NYT) will be a problem with Democrats.
Bone Up, Karl. President Bush has instituted new ethics briefings for the White House, according to the WP. Harriet Miers will now find herself on the other side of a tough interview, as her office will be conducting the sessions, which are mandatory for all staffers—including Karl Rove.