The New York Timesleads with Iraqi Prime Minister Jaafari giving up his nomination for a new term. Kurds, Sunnis, and the U.S. had all been pushing for Jaafari to walk. The Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox and Washington Postlead with Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the White House where ... nothing of substance was hashed out. USA Todayleads with data showing that while the Border Patrol has doubled staffing in the last 10 years, it's catching about the same number of border-crossers. Which doesn't surprise experts. "We have focused our resources on the symptom, which is people crossing the border, but we've done very little to address the underlying reason people come to this country, which is work," said one. The Los Angeles Timesleads with the feds hyping a series of raids against a company that employed at least a thousand illegal aliens. Seven managers were arrested. The Journal emphasizes that Homeland Security Chief Chertoff, who held the press conference highlighting the crackdown, said the administration is going to ask Congress for access to Social Security data so it can go after employers who accept false documents.
Jaafari is widely considered to be both heavily sectarian and ineffective. Two days ago, he had insisted that stepping aside was "out of the question." But his own Dawa party apparently decided to toss him aside after pressure from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and perhaps radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. It's far from clear that the yet-to-be-settled-on replacement will be any better. The candidates being floated are mostly from Jaafari's own party.
There were no big agreements at the White House get-together, but there was still news. "President Hu! Your days are numbered," yelled a Falun Gong supporter in the press section. (She was accredited!) "President Bush! Stop him from killing!"
In terms of substance, what's noteworthy is what didn't happen: China didn't give ground on Iran, North Korea, or anything else. The NYT's lead gets at this, but you'll face the headline—"BUSH AND HU VOW NEW COOPERATION"—and a surfeit of near-meaning-free quotes. On the other hand, the Times' David Sanger gets right to the point in a handy video dispatch.
Everybody mentions FBI testimony acknowledging that Zacarias Moussaoui seems to have been BSing when he said he and Richard Reid had been planning to fly a fifth plane on 9/11 into the White House. In a statement read during the closing portion of Moussaoui's trial, two FBI analysts said there was "no information available" on such a plan; they labeled Moussaoui's account "highly unlikely."
Moussaoui's claim that he was in on 9/11 made most of the papers' front pages, with only the LAT noting that intel sources were skeptical. As for yesterday's FBI testimony confirming that even the government doesn't buy Moussaoui's story, nobody fronts that.
The papers go inside with Hamas naming a wanted militant as a top security adviser. Most of the security forces are still controlled by President Abbas, at least for now ...
The Post's Karl Vick hangs with the demographic future in Iran: Legions of young unemployed men, many addicted to opium. "We only get hopeful when we smoke hashish," said one. "Otherwise, there's no hope." Many of them supported the campaign of President Ahmadinejad, who was known for living modestly and who gave them a sense of pride with his tough talk.
The WP and NYT both have reports from Nepal, where police reportedly opened fire on thousands of pro-democracy protesters. About 160 people were wounded, though nobody really has a firm count since the government isn't letting U.N. monitors move around much.
The NYT fronts the FDA putting out a statement that "no sound scientific studies" support medicinal uses for marijuana. Except the respected National Academy of Sciences concluded a few years ago that pot is "moderately well suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting." The government "loves to ignore our report," said one of the authors.
The Post fronts a federal driving study that tracked about 100 cars over a year and concluded that about 80 percent of the accidents during the study were caused by inattention or drowsiness. Apparently they found some of the world's worst drivers: The study "included 241 drivers who were involved in 82 crashes."
Can you spell P-I-N-K S-L-I-P? From the NYT's correction page:
An article in Business Day on Wednesday about investors in The New York Times Company who withheld their votes for directors misspelled the name of the family that has controlled the company since 1896. It is Ochs-Sulzberger, not Ochs-Sulzburger.