Greening Courts

Greening Courts

Greening Courts

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Nov. 16 2007 6:07 AM

Greening Courts

The New York Timesleads with news that a federal court of appeals in California ordered the Bush administration to come up with new fuel economy standards for light trucks and SUVs. The three-judge panel said the government failed to fully take into account how carbon emissions contribute to global warming when it set new standards that were barely higher than the old ones. The Washington Postleads, and everyone else fronts, the indictment of Barry Bonds on five felony charges. Baseball's all-time home run leader faces a maximum of 30 years in prison from four perjury charges and one obstruction of justice charge for his testimony in 2003, when he declared that he never knowingly used steroids.

The Los Angeles Timesand the Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox lead with the latest from Pakistan, where the government released former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto from house arrest and allowed private news channels to resume their broadcasts just hours before the arrival of Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte. The U.S. envoy will urge President Pervez Musharraf to end emergency rule, resign from his army post, and work with opposition leaders. The Bush administration wants to try to save Musharraf's presidency but plans to make it clear that it would be ready to work with someone else if he doesn't cooperate. USA Todayleads with President Bush's announcement that commercial airlines will be able to use air space that is normally reserved for the military during the days of peak Thanksgiving travel. The administration also announced it's planning to institute new penalties against airlines that are chronically late and double the compensation passengers receive from airlines when bumped from a flight.

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The WP and LAT alsofront the California fuel standards decision, which said the government must explain why it treats light trucks and SUVs in a different category than other cars when evidence shows that they're "manufactured primarily for the purpose of transporting passengers." It was the third federal court ruling this year that pressed the government to pay more attention to climate change. "Climate change has ushered in a whole new era of judicial review," an environmental law professor tells the NYT. An appeal to the Supreme Court is likely, and customers probably won't notice any difference for a while since automakers are planning on carrying on with last year's standards for now.

The NYT notes the indictment of Bonds came 100 days after he broke Hank Aaron's record. And even though this whole controversy has been swirling around for almost four years, yesterday's indictment was the first time that the government revealed it could prove that Bonds had failed a test for steroids "and other performance enhancing substances." But, of course, the case is not whether Bonds actually took performance-enhancing drugs, but rather whether the government can prove that he "knowingly and willingly" lied during his grand jury testimony in 2003. USAT is the most direct and says the indictment "probably ends the 43-year–old slugger's career."

The NYT fronts a look at how militants in Pakistan have been gaining ground in the last few days, despite Musharraf's claim that he imposed emergency rule in order to more effectively push back against the extremists. There's no evidence that Musharraf has taken any extra steps to combat the militants and, in fact, many believe the emergency rule "has proved more of a distraction … forcing General Musharraf to concentrate on his own political survival."

The WP and NYT front last night's Democratic debate, where the big highlight of the night was that Sen. Hillary Clinton was more forceful when fighting back against criticism from the other contenders. Clinton "stepped down from her front-runner's pedestal" ( LAT), "fired back" ( USAT), "was much more aggressive" ( WP), "shifted to a much more assertive tone" ( NYT), and overall had "a newly combative stance" (WSJ). It was a confrontational night, and as the WSJ notes this seemed to be exactly what the moderators wanted. Clinton joked she was wearing an "asbestos" pantsuit and at one point accused Edwards of "throwing mud … right out of the Republican playbook" when he said that she is part of a corrupt system. Obama also accused Clinton of acting like a Republican when she said one of his plans for Social Security would amount to "a $1 trillion tax increase."

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The WP and LAT front a new analysis of satellite images that shows hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed about 320 million trees in Mississippi and Louisiana. It amounts to "the largest single forestry disaster on record in the nation," says the Post. The dead, and decomposing, trees will ultimately put as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as what all the U.S. forests absorb in one year. The LAT notes that although 367 million tons of carbon dioxide is not much in the grand scheme of things, it does exceed "an entire season's worth of emissions from U.S. forest fires."

The NYT also has a Page One story on the effects of Katrina and notes that most of the money to help citizens of Mississippi has "benefited relatively affluent residents and big businesses." Mississippi is the only state that got an approval from the federal government to not worry about the rule that 50 percent of the grant money has to go to low-income programs.

Everyone notes the full Senate will now have to debate whether to grant immunity to telephone companies that helped the administration's warrantless surveillance programs. The Senate judiciary committee approved a bill that added more court oversight to the surveillance but did not decide one way or another on immunity, which the intelligence committee had already approved. Meanwhile, the House voted on a bill that would deny immunity to the companies.

The LAT catches late-breaking news out of Bangladesh, where a powerful cyclone killed at least 242 people today.

The WP's Eugene Robinson writes about the now-famous incident where Sen. John McCain was asked at a camapign event, "How do we beat the bitch?" Except he can't write the word "bitch" because, even though it's regular fodder for prime-time programming, it's "a word that most editors won't print in a family newspaper." Doesn't this extreme puritanism surrounding "naughty words" ultimately just seem condescending to readers? And, just for the record, the Post has published the word several times, and the the NYT doesn't seem to have a problem with it.

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