The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal lead with, and the Los Angeles Times fronts, an emergency meeting between major bank heads and the Federal Reserve. Sick of underwriting bailouts, the government is hoping to broker an "industry solution" for the impending liquidation of Lehman Brothers Inc., the ailing investment bank. The NYT gives equal billing to Hurricane Ike's touchdown on near Houston—and the WSJ tops its world-wide news box with the storm, which the Washington Post features and the LAT fronts.
The LAT devotes its front page to coverage of a horrific passenger-train crash in Los Angeles, which killed 15 and injured 135. Safety mechanisms didn't kick in, allowing the train to plow head-on into a freight train headed in the opposite direction. The WP leads with the Washington, D.C., city council's move to repeal handgun restrictions that conflict with the Supreme Court's ruling in District of Columbiav. Heller.
The papers describe a cinematic "game of chicken" between financial titans and the Fed. The government refuses to do another bailout—having exhausted its patience and political capital saving Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac over the past year. The banks are wary of expending their own capital on a bad risk, so they're demanding federal support. Someone has to compromise by Monday, or losses will ripple through the economy.
The NYT says Hurricane Ike, the 600-mile-wide storm that hit Texas last night, is "poised to become one of the most damaging hurricanes of all time." Officials are most worried about the 20-foot storm surge, a "tsunami" that could flood 100,000 houses, overflow the city's seven bayous, and wreak havoc on the country's second-busiest port. A million people have already fled the hurricane—but the government is telling many Houstonians to shelter in place, fearing that a mass evacuation would cause unnecessary casualties.
All the papers include dispatches from Galveston, Texas, an island city hit by Ike earlier Friday. Forty percent of its residents—which a separate NYT piece calls a "stubborn bunch"—ignored an evacuation order even though the National Weather Center warned that they "may face certain death."
The Gulf Coast also houses a quarter of the country's oil production and 40 percent of its refining capacity, which won't be back on line until at least midweek. A dispatch from the LAT says that oil rigs are largely undamaged but that it's too early to know what will happen to the refineries.
The LAT says Metrolink officials don't know how two trains could have collided, though they think it has something to do with the sharply curved section of track where the accident happened. Passengers saw the freight train bearing down on them at a 45 degree angle seconds before the crash.
The WP says Washington, D.C., legislators are rushing to eliminate elements of the city's gun ban that conflict with the Supreme Court's recent ruling. The piece hints that they're trying to pre-empt pro-gun members of the House of Representatives, who are threatening to pass even further-reaching legislation against the ban.
The WP goes up top with news that the U.S. government has slapped terrorist finance sanctions on three of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's top aides, who stand accused of helping the Colombian terrorist group FARC sell drugs and buy weapons. According to the WSJ, the move is a calculated response to diplomatic provocations by Chavez and Bolivian president Evo Morales, who've been escalating tensions in order to dampen domestic unrest.