Chrysler set to go private; U.S. and Iran will hold talks soon.

Chrysler set to go private; U.S. and Iran will hold talks soon.

Chrysler set to go private; U.S. and Iran will hold talks soon.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
May 14 2007 6:01 AM

Something To Talk About

The New York Timesleads with, and almost everyone else fronts, word that DaimlerChrysler could announce as early as today that it is selling the Chrysler Group to a private equity firm, Cerberus Capital. The sale could mark a turning point for an industry that is struggling to keep up with high pension and health-care liabilities. The Los Angeles Timesleads with the announcement that the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, will probably meet with Iranian officials in the next few weeks to discuss Iraq. Although officials on both sides emphasized that only Iraq would be discussed at the meeting, some are hopeful that it could serve as a starting point for future negotiations. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the approximately 4,000 U.S. troops in Iraq who spent Sunday searching for the three soldiers  who disappeared after their patrol was ambushed south of Baghdad on Saturday. The Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group that includes al-Qaida in Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it is holding the missing soldiers but did not show any proof. 

The Washington Postleads with a look at how the long-running government program designed to provide power to rural areas gives out billions in low-interest loans to build coal plants. Regardless of efforts to combat global warming, rural electric cooperatives plan to spend about $35 billion to build coal plants over the next 10 years. Many say the program should be cut, but the cooperatives have a significant amount of political power in Washington and can ensure that someone is always advocating their cause. USA Todayleads with a look at how cities and towns across the country are working to adapt in order to make seniors more comfortable at a time when their population is set to explode. As the oldest baby boomers retire, it will begin a wave that will eventually lead to 35 million more seniors by 2030.

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Chrysler's labor unions have frequently denounced the prospect of private ownership, calling it the "worst-case" scenario for the company. They probably have reason to worry because, as the WSJ notes up high, Cerberus has a history of cutting costs, and it's likely that labor would be one of its first targets. According to the deal, DaimlerChrysler would keep a 20 percent stake, while Cerberus would would own 80 percent.  How much money will change hands in the deal isn't quite clear yet, although there's speculation that it won't be very much since Cerberus would take over Chrysler's costs, which include $18 billion in debt related to retiree health care. Chrysler had a $1.5 billion loss in 2006.

The WP off-leads, and the LAT fronts, news that Mullah Dadullah, one of the most senior Taliban figures, was killed by U.S. and Afghan forces. Dadullah was widely believed to be the most important operational commander of the Taliban. A Taliban spokesman denied he had been killed, but his body was put on display yesterday and there seems to be little doubt of his identity. It is unclear who would take Dadullah's spot, but his legacy is bound to live on. The LAT says many believe Dadullah was the "driving force" behind tactics such as beheadings, abductions, and suicide bombings.

Although the State and Defense departments are well-known to butt heads, the Post fronts a look at how the conflicts between the two in Iraq have reached much higher-than-normal proportions. One of these fights is over the best way to try to jumpstart Iraq's economy. Paul Brinkley, a deputy undersecretary of defense, wants to focus on fixing up dilapidated state-run companies to get people working right away. He has allegedly been called a Stalinist by State Department employees, who say the United States should be encouraging free market reforms instead. The disconnect has gotten so bad that Brinkley barely works with the embassy and has set up his own office and staff elsewhere in the Green Zone.

The Post and the NYT go inside with the second day of clashes in Pakistan between the opposition and government supporters that killed as many as six more people, bringing the weekend total to about 40. It all started Saturday, when a judge who had been suspended by the country's president was scheduled to speak. There have been frequent rallies in favor of the judge, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, since he was suspended in March. This weekend's events, though, turned particularly violent, and there is speculation that government troops may have purposefully looked the other way as people were getting shot. The NYT says this weekend's clashes have further eroded the president's power and influence.

The NYT has a dispatch from the second annual rock-paper-scissors tournament in Las Vegas. The USA Rock Paper Scissors League was founded 17 months ago, following the model of several existing organizations around the world, and the tournament has a first prize of $50,000. About 300 finalists were flown to Las Vegas to compete for the national championship. The co-commissioner of the league said he hopes the tournament will help bring respectability to the game. "To me, this is a great sport," Matti Leshem, the league's co-commissioner, explained.

Love your alma mater? Now you can spend eternity there, says the LAT. Although only a few colleges currently offer the possibility of housing your casket or ashes, it's a growing trend, particularly as administrators start to realize how much money they can charge for the service.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.