The Washington Postleads with word that the Bush administration is wrapping up the final details on a massive aid package to help Mexico fight against the increasingly violent drug cartels within its borders. The package would amount to "the biggest U.S. anti-narcotics effort abroad" since the $5 billion program known as Plan Colombia. The Los Angeles Timesleads with a look at how workers on Wall Street are increasingly nervous that the effects of the crisis in subprime mortgages means "the good times are coming to an abrupt halt." The New York Timesleads with the upcoming federal efforts to punish businesses that hire illegal immigrants who use fake Social Security numbers.
The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with word that there are now 162,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, the largest number since the invasion. The U.S. military also announced the deaths of four more American soldiers. USA Todayleads with the Pentagon's request for almost $750 million to fly Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles to Iraq instead of sending them by ship. The fact that the Pentagon wants to spend a lot more money to get the armored vehicles to Iraq as quickly as possible illustrates how the issue has become a priority after much lagging from top officials.
The aid program to combat Mexico's drug cartels would provide both equipment and training for local officials. Although there are still some open questions, primarily because of Mexico's uneasiness with having a U.S. presence in the country, the deal could be announced later this month. Officials say a deal would mark a significant change for both countries, which are more used to blaming each other for failures. But Mexican officials appear to be reluctant to break the news to their citizens, who are highly skeptical of their northern neighbor, and have so far avoided talking about the deal in public. Although lawmakers on both sides of the border are resisting comparisons to Plan Colombia, it would be nice if the Post took this opportunity to look at how effective the program has been, an issue that gets only one line in the story.
Employees at Wall Street firms had been enjoying the good life, with great salaries and multimillion-dollar bonuses, but now there's growing concern that the end of the easy money era could mean layoffs and cutbacks. "There are people who have gotten used to the lifestyle that comes along with the boom years, and some of those people are going to be in for a rude awakening," an investment banker tells the LAT.
The LAT led with a similar story on the federal crackdown on illegal immigrants last week. Today the NYT goes high with concerns from those in the agriculture business, which is heavily reliant on illegal immigrants and fear the crackdown will force them to lay off much of their workforce. Some groups are preparing to challenge the new efforts in court. Officials expect to send 140,000 letters to employers this year informing them of discrepancies. An employer would have 14 days to clear up the discrepancy or fire the workers in order to avoid fines.
The WP fronts word that, after much prodding from the White House, the United Nations said it is willing to increase the number of personnel stationed in Iraq. Britain and the United States want the Security Council to vote this week on a resolution to increase the United Nations' presence and influence in Iraq. The NYT says the resolution is expected to pass, but some fear the international body will be left to deal with Iraq's problems by itself. The Post notes the Bush administration's pleas for assistance from the United Nations "contrast with the disdain it held for the organization in past years."
Although it has largely fallen off the media radar, USAT fronts a look into the ongoing search for the two U.S. soldiers who were captured in May. Those who continue with the manhunt appear to be as determined as ever to uncover any clues that could bring them closer to finding an answer. "Troops say the search is now mostly a mission of pride—and principle," says USAT.
All the papers go inside with the latest Democratic presidential debate, in which everyone agrees candidates criticized one another more sharply than at any previous encounter. The Post says the event, sponsored by the AFL-CIO, seemed to show "that the battle for the party's nomination may be entering a new phase." Sen. Barack Obama was sharply criticized for his proposal to take unilateral action inside Pakistan to get to al-Qaida terrorists. Obama shot back and said that those who criticized him had voted for the Iraq war and helped "engineer the biggest foreign policy disaster in our generation." Sen. Clinton was also criticized for being too close to lobbyists and businesses.
Rescue efforts continued for the six trapped miners in Utah, but the operation was moving more slowly than anyone would have liked as workers had to deal with shifting conditions. Officials said it could take three days to know whether the miners are still alive and it will be at least a week before they can actually reach them.
All of the papers (except the WSJ) front the news that everyone knew was coming sooner or later: Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run last night and broke the previous record held by Hank Aaron. There were fireworks, tears, and Aaron appeared in a video to congratulate Bonds. "I move over now," Aaron said. The LAT has a picture of the very lucky man who caught the ball. Of course, there are those who doubt the significance of the new record because Bonds continues to be dogged by accusations that he used steroids. But yesterday "there was scarcely a dissenting voice heard," says the Post. It's just as well, because, as the NYT points out, the debate over the new record "will be here for a while."