All of today's papers lead with news that President Bush has agreed to a "general time horizon" for U.S. troop withdrawals from combat missions in Iraq.
Bush has often derided Democratic calls for a withdrawal timetable—but he's now agreeing to a "general time horizon for meeting aspirational goals," including troop cuts the New York Times calls "notional," at the behest of Iraq's prime minister. The president says his position is consistent with changes on the ground, but that hasn't stopped Dems in Congress from gloating.
The NYT also leads with a historic number of felons seeking pardons during President Bush's final days. The piece asks if Bush will "pre-empt long-term investigations" by pardoning officials involved in controversial anti-terror policies but doesn't find any answers.
The NYT goes big with an informative rundown on each element of America's economic meltdown. Take away: We're all screwed! Probably.
The Wall Street Journal fronts a look at today's meeting between U.S. and Iranian diplomats—the highest-level contact since 1979. The U.S. and the EU have united (finally) to offer a sanctions-for-suspension-of-enrichment package.
The Washington Post goes up top with Barack Obama's coming visit to Eurasia, where he'll try to boost his commander-in-chief numbers. (Slate's John Dickerson explains what could go wrong here.) Obama's schedule is secret for security reasons, but John McCain does his best to blow his opponent's cover on Page A06: "I believe that either today or tomorrow—I am not privy to his schedule—Senator Obama will be landing in Iraq with some other senators."
A Los Angeles Times front makes a big deal out of McCain's newest dilemma: Will he back the Bush administration's bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Or will he heed conservatives and demand "containment" and defunding of the mortgage lenders? Tough call.
The WP features a look at China's massive pre-Olympic security crackdown—which aims to prevent everything from pro-Tibet banner unfurlings to al-Qaida attacks on President Bush. Especially onerous are new visa restrictions that a piece on A09 says are driving away tourists and Western expats.
The NYT fronts a pegless piece (next to a look at the economic plight of gala organizers in the Hamptons) that ponders why America is the only country to bar illegally obtained evidence from criminal trials.
The NYT stuffs news that the Taliban has taken local officials hostage in West Pakistan, and it's threatening a bloodbath if Islamist honcho Baitallah Mehsud's "best fighter" isn't released. The violence has prompted the most forceful response to date from Pakistan's new prime minister.
All the papers go inside with Phil Gramm's resignation as John McCain's campaign co-chair after Gramm called America a "nation of whiners" last week. Obama operatives are in mourning.
The WP stuffs a poll that says 75 percent of Americans now support allowing gays in the military—as opposed to 44 percent in 1993. That support cuts across party identification to include a majority of Republicans.
The NYT and WP go inside with news that Cuba's Raúl Castro will allow private farming on government-owned land. "Socialism means social justice and equality, but equality of rights, of opportunities, not of income."
And.The NYT goes inside with news that hundreds of baby penguins are washing up dead on the shores of Brazil, and nobody knows why!