The Washington Post leads with a sneak peak of next year's federal budget, including a whopping $726 billion for the military. The New York Times leads with the release of the U.N.'s climate change report, which says that global warming is almost certainly caused by human activities. The Los Angeles Times leads with the bleak National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. The Wall Street Journal worldwide newsbox leads with an Iraq catchall including the military budget and the NIE.
The budget for the next fiscal year will be released on Monday, but most of the papers got an early look. It includes $100 billion for the rest of this fiscal year (on top of $70 billion already spent), $145 billion for next year, and $481 billion for the regular Defense Department budget— a 10 percent increase over last year. The war budget for next year represents the first time the Pentagon has tried to plan for all the Iraq and Afghanistan money at the beginning of the budget cycle, notes the NYT, which runs the story inside. The previous practice had been to ask for it in bits and pieces, which had consistently annoyed Congress. The budget also, for the first time in three years, includes an increase in nondefense spending. But with the expansion of the alternative minimum tax—and if projections of a strong economy turn out to be right—the budget should be balanced by 2012, according to the White House's figures. The budget also calls for big cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, notes the LAT.
The LAT had the climate-change report yesterday, but with the official release, we get to hear official reaction. The White House welcomed the report, but apparently its interest in unilateral action does not extend to reducing greenhouse gases. "We are a small contributor to the overall, when you look at the rest of the world, so it's really got to be a global solution," said Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. Only the LAT, in its day-after reaction story, mentions the U.S. failure to sign the Kyoto protocol, which is just such a global solution. The new chair of the House Science and Technology Committee said, "It's time to end the debate and act … All the naysayers should step aside."
The NIE, which is a consensus report by the country's 16 intelligence agencies, said the situation in Iraq is worsening at an accelerating rate. It says that without U.S. troops there, the Iraqi security forces would be quickly overwhelmed. And the White House said the report vindicates its "surge" strategy. The assessment "explains why the president concluded that a new approach, a new strategy was required," said National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.
The LAT continues its campaign to poke holes in the administration's blame-Iran strategy. In a front-page story it notes that the NIE downplays the role of Iran in causing the problems in Iraq. And a U.S. military press briefing planned for Tuesday in Iraq that would have laid out U.S. evidence for Iranian involvement in Iraq was cancelled because the White House thought the case was "overstated," Hadley said.
Meanwhile, a U.S. Apache helicopter was shot down Friday and its two occupants killed, the fourth helicopter downed in the last two weeks, all the papers report.
While the number of criminals sentenced to death is declining overall, the federal government is pushing the death penalty more, including in states that don't have their own death penalty, the Journal reports on the front page. Today there are 47 people on federal death row, up from 18 in 2000, while the state death-row population has declined during that time. The reason is that while the Clinton-era Justice Department didn't want to overrule local federal prosecutors on whether to pursue the death penalty, the Bush administration believes there shouldn't be "one standard in Georgia and another in Vermont."
Also in the papers … Serbia rejected a U.N. proposal that would lead to Kosovo's independence, the NYT reports, as does the LAT. Russia and the United States are at odds over how to deal with Syria and Hamas, says the Post. And Europeans want to move faster on a Palestinian state, says the LAT. The Pentagon official who said corporations should boycott law firms that represent Guantanamo inmates has resigned, the NYT reports. The FBI is trying to resolve decades-old civil-rights murders, says the NYT. Runway models are making less money and Americans are being pushed out by Eastern Europeans and Brazilians, the WSJ reports. And the NFL is having trouble courting Hispanic fans, according to a front-page NYT story.
Not letting the wookie win: The LAT has a front-page photo of a man in a Chewbacca costume handcuffed and being led to an LAPD car. Police say the man was harassing tourists outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre. People dressed as various movie characters pose for pictures with tourists for tips, but when one tour guide asked the Chewbacca to stop bothering two Japanese tourists, he lost it. "He yelled at me, 'Nobody tells this wookiee what to do!' " and then head-butted him, the guide said. Said LucasFilm: "We are disappointed that someone dressed as Chewbacca would behave in this way."