The Washington Postand New York Times lead with senators voting to begin debate on the bipartisan bill that would overhaul immigration laws, which is bound to get a major pounding from both sides of the aisle in the coming weeks. In fact, many who voted to take up the bill said they did so only so that they could change the legislation. Senators had (extremely unrealistically) hoped they could get the bill passed this week, but now debate will continue after the Memorial Day recess.
The Los Angeles Timesleads, the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, and the WP off-leads the second day of clashes between the Lebanese army and militants from Fatah al-Islam, which claims to have ties to al-Qaida. The army hit the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp with artillery and tank fire once again, and continuing fighting has killed at least 50 people since Sunday (the NYT says 60). USA Todayleads with a new study that says there has been a larger-than-expected increase in worldwide industrial carbon dioxide emissions. According to the study, from 2000 to 2004, carbon dioxide emissions grew "at a rate that is over three times the rate during the 1990s."
The fact that debate on the immigration bill will continue after the weeklong Memorial Day recess might seem innocuous, but as the WP has been pointing out, it's important for two reasons. First, lawmakers will go home during the break and are likely to hear from angry constituents. The extra week also gives groups opposed to particular provisions in the bill more time to work on their strategies. And who opposes the bill? Well, as was hinted at from day one, pretty much everyone has some complaints. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recognized as much yesterday, "Nearly everyone agrees that the existing bill is imperfect. … What we have now is a starting point." And although the Senate leadership is still convinced it can get enough votes to pass the bill, the extremely negative reaction from some has taken the bill's architects by surprise.
The WSJ fronts a breakdown of how different industries feel about the bill and illustrates how even those who are generally happy have their complaints. For example, industries that rely on low-skilled workers don't like the provision that would require temporary workers to return to their home countries for a specific period of time. If you're still confused about what exactly is in the bill, the NYT has a good summary of the main points and who opposes them. To deal with the parts of the bill that they don't like, senators are gearing up to issue a barrage of amendments that range from cutting the number of temporary work visas in half to making English the official language. The bipartisan group of senators who crafted the legislation will apparently be meeting every day to figure out how to answer to any amendments or challenges to the bill.
As the Lebanese army continued to fire on the refugee camp, it prevented any of its approximately 35,000 residents from leaving, and now there's growing concern over the civilians inside. "The human situation is a catastrophe," a doctor inside the camp tells the LAT. During a brief cease-fire, the Red Cross was able to evacuate 17 injured people from the camp before the fighting started again. So far, the Lebanese army has honored the long-held agreement that prevents it from entering any of the country's refugee camps that together hold about 400,000 people.
Although it's thought that there are no more than a few hundred Fatah al-Islam fighters, they are well-armed, and the NYT notes that some have been spotted with advanced equipment that the Lebanese army doesn't have. Meanwhile, in a sign that the fighting is not isolated, another bomb exploded in Beirut last night and there was fighting in another refugee camp. A spokesman for the militants warned there would be more attacks in other parts of Lebanon if the army continued its operation. The fighting continued this morning.
The papers go inside with news that a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip killed an Israeli woman yesterday. She became the first Israeli to die from a Palestinian rocket attack since November. Meanwhile, the Israeli Air Force continued its airstrikes and killed four members of Islamic Jihad who were traveling in a car in Gaza.
USAT, LAT, and WSJ front a new study that links widely prescribed diabetes drug Avandia with an increased risk of suffering a heart attack (43 percent) and dying from all cardiovascular diseases (64 percent). After the study was released, the Food and Drug Administration issued a safety alert. But Glaxo-SmithKline had warned the FDA as early as 2005 that there might be safety problems with Avandia. Lawmakers were quick to draw parallels to Vioxx. The WSJ highlights how the doctor who conducted this study was also one of the first to raise concerns about Vioxx.
USAT fronts, and everyone mentions, news that the average price of gasoline reached $3.218, which is half a penny short of the inflation-adjusted record set in March 1981.
Not so bad after all ... Although the initial shock of being fired was overwhelming, former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias has come to enjoy his time in the media spotlight and his stints at a variety of shows with the likes of Bill Maher and Larry King. "I've loved it," a candid Iglesias tells the Post. "From an exposure point of view it's been incredible. ... In a perverse way this has already put me on the national map." He's not picky about his appearences either: "If it's a show I've heard of, I'll probably do it." Iglesias is debating whether he should write a book and expresses some disappointment that he hasn't been contacted by "magazines like Vanity Fair or the Atlantic for a larger story. I like them."