The Los Angeles Times leads with its Hurricane Katrina one-year anniversary coverage, with the Washington Post and the New York Times off-leading similar stories. The NYT leads with evidence that insider trading is increasingly common. The WP leads its analysis of Democratic congressional candidates' positions on withdrawing troops from Iraq, finding the majority of competitive contenders hold more nuanced views than either Republican or Democratic leaders would have voters believe.
The papers agree New Orleans has yet to bounce back after a year of recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina—but couldn't differ more in how they go about demonstrating it. The LAT wants to overwhelm you with spending statistics. Federal agencies have spent only $44 billion of the $110 billion in congressionally approved funds. The argument that bureaucrats hampered the city's comeback is a potent one and the LAT certainly has the numbers to back up the claim, but it's hard to grasp what those numbers mean for the city. The WP fills in that gap nicely, going for quality of life statistics. For instance: Almost a third of hurricane-related garbage hasn't been collected yet. The NYT decides to take the long view: A year ago, NOLA loyalists were proclaiming the city would come back better than ever, while others (including Slate's own Jack Shafer) argued rebuilding would be a mistake. So, who's right? The NYT tries to call it both ways, citing both evidence of progress and disheartening statistics (though rather more of the latter) and proclaims the city at a crossroads, open to both ruin and renewal. In a related story, the NYT follows the path of an unidentified body after the storm.
The NYT hired a company to analyze trading patterns for companies that experienced billion-dollar mergers over the last year. The study found that 41 percent of companies being bought out showed "abnormal and suspicious trading" prior to the sale's announcement, indicating that insider trading may be much, much more common that previously believed. The SEC says it believes the New York Stock Exchange does a fine job of self-regulating, but the paper points out that unlike some foreign exchanges, the NYSE is primarily concerned with catching individual inside traders as opposed to brokerage firms and the like.
Democratic candidates aren't preaching flight from Iraq, but they aren't united behind some coherent, party-sponsored plan for resolving the U.S. occupation either, says the WP. The paper examines Democratic candidates in the 59 House and Senate races deemed most competitive by a nonpartisan analyst, finding that more than half of the candidates don't support setting a specific troop withdrawal date. The paper is careful to say that not backing a specific date doesn't necessarily make a candidate pro-war or mean they feel troops should stay indefinitely. Rather, the point is debunking election year claims that all Democrats feel one way or another about Iraq. The paper also fronts a story about the long shot campaigns of two first time Democratic candidates from local districts—one safely in Democratic hands, one solidly Republican.
In a story breaking too late for the print edition, the NYT reports online (via the AP) that the two kidnapped Fox News journalists in Gaza are about to be freed.
Schools aren't just more crowded, they're also more diverse than they've been in roughly 100 years, writes the NYT. The surge comes from the children of late baby boomers combined with a swell of children of recent immigrants. In six states, white kids no longer constitute a majority of children, with the rest of the country expected to follow suit within a decade.
A surge in the beetle population is poised to deforest much of the Rockies, priming the region for intense forest fires and displacing wildlife. Worst of all, there appears to be nothing anyone can do to stop it, according the LAT.
The NYT wins the awesome headline prize with a story slugged, "Dancers Land in Iraq. Marines Offer No Resistance." Sadly, once you've read the headline, you've more or less read the article. Readers will be shocked to learn that lonely Marines appreciate pretty girls—though the paper does make a show of mentioning that in an increasingly coed army, the babe squad is becoming something of an eyebrow-raiser.
Why did Mary Winkler, a Tennessee preacher's wife, kill her husband with a shotgun? The LAT has a couple of theories under the fold. In Cold Blood it ain't, but it's a serviceable, if overly sensational, treatment of a compelling case for those of us sick of JonBenet Ramsey stories.
The WP reports on Israel's practice of targeted assassinations to prevent terrorist attacks, weighing the possibility of civilian lives lost in the attack against lives potentially saved by halting budding terror plots, in what the paper calls the "algebra of assassination." If the dilemma sounds similar to the plot of the movie Munich, consider: Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who authorized the first such assassinations back in 2000, was part of the real-life hit-squad who avenged the 1972 Munich Olympics killings.