The Los Angeles Timesleads with administration officials rolling out a presidential decision to declare a 1,400-mile long swath of ocean around northern Hawaii a national monument, making it the world's biggest marine reserve. The Washington Postleads with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki proposing a limited amnesty for insurgents; he suggested it would apply to those who've only attacked U.S. forces. The New York Times leads with President Bush's conference, which featured no particular news—perhaps why no other paper chose to even front it. USA Todayleads with inflation inching up again last month. Another Fed rate hike is now considered a sure thing.
The area now protected around Hawaii—where commercial fishing will soon be banned—is larger than all national parks put together, and the move is a big reversal for the administration. Five years ago, the White House "considered stripping" the area of some protections. The LAT says Bush got excited by the reserve idea after watching a film by Jacques Cousteau's son. The NYT has a cool slide show of the area.
The NYT also has an op-ed celebrating the decision to create the marine sanctuary, which is interesting timing of course, with news of the decision just now coming out. The piece has two authors, one of whom is from the Pew Foundation. As it happens, Pew was involved in the negotiations for the sanctuary—not that the Times op-ed mentions that.
The Post says Prime Minister Maliki's soft talk was the "first time a leader from Iraq's governing Shiite religious parties has publicly embraced national reconciliation, welcomed dialogue with armed groups and proposed a limited amnesty." That may be, but what the Post skips is that an amnesty has been floated before, twice in fact. The others papers don't give Maliki's comments significant play.
The NYT checks in on the big security sweep in Baghdad, saying, "the usual firefights in the usual neighborhoods crackled." But it was also a relatively peaceful day. There was just one significant bombing, and about 10 residents were reported killed in attacks overall.
Nobody gives significant space to what the AP calls the launch of the biggest allied offensive in Afghanistan since the Taliban fell. One GI and 26 insurgents have been reported killed so far. According to early-morning reports, 10 Afghans who worked at a U.S. base were killed when a bomb hit their bus.
In other early-morning reports, a bus packed with schoolchildren in Sri Lanka hit a land mine, killing about 60 people.
A front-page LAT piece looks at an emerging Republican electoral strategy: Talk up the war and Dems' disagreement on what to do. "There's an interesting debate in the Democrat Party about how quick to pull out of Iraq," said Bush during his presser.
The WP fronts the next play in the book: The House is scheduled today to have a kind of Potemkin debate on the war, using a resolution that was "introduced with unabashed partisan overtones" by GOP leaders. The measure calls for "declaring that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror [and] the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary." As the WP notes, "The rules of debate will not allow the resolution to be amended, nor will alternative resolutions be allowed on the floor for a vote."
The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with a poll showing 50 percent of respondents support the Senate and the president's relatively liberal immigration plan, while 33 percent oppose it. A plurality of conservatives—44 percent—want the House's enforcement-only plan, and most of them feel darn strongly about it.
USAT also fronts the studies and emphasizes it's not just ERs but the whole emergency-response system that's stressed even in normal times and not prepared for a national disaster.
The NYT fronts an impressive photo of more chaos in the West Bank, where civil servants stormed the parliament building, demanded to be paid, and chanted, "We are hungry!" A separate Times piece notices that a European plan to give aid to at least Palestinian hospitals has been basically blocked by the U.S., which says it's concerned some of the money could go to Hamas supporters. "There is no humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories," said an SAO. "There is a political and security crisis, and the Hamas government has to make some responsible decisions about how to handle it."
The WP: "U.S. MUST PLAY ROLE IN WORLD, RICE SAYS." Glad we have that cleared up.