The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox lead with, and USA Today fronts, Mitt Romney's victory over John McCain in the Michigan Republican primary. Romney's victory means the Republican nomination is once again up for grabs. USAT leads with, and the LAT fronts, the Food and Drug Administration's announcement that meat and milk from cloned animals is safe to eat. Consumer groups disagree.
Romney called his victory a triumph of optimism over "Washington-style pessimism," the papers all report. They agree that Romney's Michigan roots and his promises to use his presidency to help the state's struggling economy helped him beat McCain, who had said repeatedly that some auto-industry jobs would never return. The WP reports that Romney adopted the bring-change-to-Washington message immediately after Barack Obama used it to win the Democratic Iowa caucuses. The NYT notes in the top of its story that Romney campaigned in Michigan as a native son "though he left the state nearly 40 years ago." The LAT mentions "an air of forced cheer" at McCain's post-primary gathering last night. Probably the Michigan GOP's incorrectly congratulating McCain on his victory did not help the mood in the room.
The NYT and the WSJ front news that Citigroup, the largest bank in the United States, needed to be bailed out by foreign investors after posting fourth-quarter losses of nearly $10 billion. The NYT focuses on the losses as further evidence of the subprime mortgage mega-meltdown, while the WSJ highlights how the infusion of international money represents "a dramatic shift in power" away from the United States in world financial markets. Both papers use the phrase "hat in hand" to describe the way Citigroup and Merrill Lynch went begging for cash from outside investors in Asia and the Middle East. Adding to the gloom, the U.S government reported that retail sales in December declined for the first time since 2002, according to the NYT. One expert consulted by the Times compared today's economic situation to the Great Depression.
The FDA announced yesterday that meat and milk from cloned cows and their offspring are safe to eat. USAT emphasizes consumer and animal rights groups' outrage over the decision and offers info in Q&A format. The cloned animals will be used mostly for breeding, not for direct consumption. It is unlikely that clone-sired meat will appear in supermarkets very soon, but consumers might not know when it does because the FDA won't require special labels.
The WP off-leads an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the CIA's destruction of interrogation videotapes in 2005. The tapes depicted the harsh questioning of two al-Qaida suspects at a secret CIA prison in Thailand. The Post's story centers on the CIA's then-director of clandestine operations, Jose A Rodriguez Jr., who ordered the destruction of the tapes after senior CIA and White House officials advocated preserving the tapes but did not insist. Rodriguez was reprimanded in 1996 while serving as the CIA's Latin America division chief, when he illegally prevented Dominican Republic authorities from beating up a childhood friend who had been arrested in a drug investigation. The WP bases its story mostly on anonymous sources and did not score an interview with Rodriguez.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates thinks NATO soldiers from Canada, Britain, and the Netherlands don't know what they're doing in Afghanistan, according to a front-pageLAT story. The public criticism of military strategy is unusual, the LAT says, and NATO officials take umbrage.
The surging popularity of cocaine in Europe and the strength of the euro have led European drug cartels to devise elaborate money-laundering schemes in which lots of euros wash up on U.S. shores, according to a front-pageWSJ story. The WSJ notes near the top of the story that euros are such a symbol of the lush life lately that they're featured in a Jay-Z video. (So much for those Benjamins.)
WP reports that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama distanced themselves from issues of race during last night's Democratic debate after a week of testy back-and-forth on the subject. Nevertheless, Clinton, Obama, and John Edwards managed to disagree plenty on other things during the Las Vegas debate.
The WSJ fronts a story on the phenomenon of Chinese families keeping their mentally-ill members locked up in small cages at home to avoid the high cost of hospitalization. Cages are used sometimes with explicit government approval in rural areas.
The LAT off-leads a China feature—a story on the Long March, or what the LAT calls "a Chinese version of America's Valley Forge," in which the Red Army suffered massive casualties during an epic trek in the 1930s. New research is prompting skepticism of the Communist Party's heroic version of events.