Today's Papers

Isolation Row

The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times lead with the House’s mostly party-line passage yesterday of a bill based on President Bush’s proposal for using federal money to expand the social service role of religious charities. The fears of many Democrats and some Republicans that the legislation could lead to federally funded hiring discrimination, especially against gays, by these charities–which on Wednesday seemed capable of blocking passage–were overcome mainly by the Republican leadership’s promise to address the issue during negotiations with the Senate, should the latter also pass such a bill. The House vote is also the top national story at the New York Times. USA Today reefers the vote but leads with a follow to its front-pager yesterday in which Senate Democrat leader Tom Daschle criticized President Bush for moving the U.S. toward isolationism: Bush’s comment as he headed to a summit in Italy and talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin that “we’re not retreating within our borders.” The paper also says that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice called Daschle to protest and that Daschle “appeared chastened” about making his remarks just as the president was going overseas, but not about their substance. The story also reports that Daschle’s staff supplied examples of Republicans, including Bush and Dick Cheney, criticizing Bill Clinton’s foreign policy while he was traveling abroad as president. The WP off-leads the flap, saying in its subheadline that President Bush “BRISTLES” at Daschle’s comments. The Wall Street Journal’s “Washington Wire” goes high with unnamed Bush aides saying their boss was “livid” about Daschle’s comments and that relations between the two men had been “severely damaged” as a result. The LAT keeps Bush/Daschle out of the headline over its Bush-in-Europe front-pager, while the NYT runs a story on it inside.

The WP says the House vote was “a victory for the president on one of his top domestic priorities” but adds that the House’s problems over discrimination “signaled the difficulties confronting the White House in winning enactment. …” And indeed, everybody has the Senate’s Daschle saying that it was unlikely the Senate would pass the faith-based programs bill if its current language exempting religious charities from anti-bias laws is retained.

The LAT lead is alone in mentioning in its narrative that Gary Condit was among the 15 Democrats who voted for the bill. The WP has this from Rep. Barney Frank about the idea of working out the discrimination issue later: “I thought faith-based meant faith in God, not faith in the Senate.”

The WP fronts a federal government report concluding that although condoms do prevent the spread of HIV and gonorrhea, there isn’t enough evidence yet that they do likewise for most other sexually transmitted diseases. The story points out high up that this finding provides “fresh ammunition” for the abstinence-only approach to sex education. But this is somehow left out of the story’s headline.

The WP and NYT go inside with the fatal drive-by shooting of three Palestinians, one a 3-month-old baby. Several other Palestinians were wounded. A group of militant Jewish settlers claimed responsibility. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon condemned the shooting and pledged to arrest the killers. Both stories point out that since the outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians last fall, there have been frequent drive-by shootings of Israelis by Palestinians, resulting in more than two dozen deaths.

USAT fronts its interview with the D.C. police chief, in which he says there is “a fairly significant” chance that Chandra Levy will never be found. The chief also revealed that before logging off from her computer shortly before she disappeared, among the Web sites Levy visited was Rep. Gary Condit’s.

The WSJ and WP go inside with brief reports that a computer worm program attacked some 225,000 server computers worldwide Thursday and made them try to disrupt Internet traffic and shut down the White House Web site with a “denial of service” attack. The WH apparently took some countermeasures that kept its site running. Both stories note that infected computers flashed the on-screen message “Hacked by Chinese!” The Post says this has led to speculation that this was indeed the cause of the trouble, while the WSJ says there is no other evidence of this. The Journal says the worm exploits a flaw discovered just last month in popular server software from Microsoft.

Also, she definitely didn’t say, “I’m having a great time not being around that horny S.O.–Uh, the former president and I spend as much time together as we possible can.” The NYT reports inside that during her appearance at the National Press Club yesterday, when Hillary Clinton was asked by an audience member whether she had any intention of running for president she answered, “No, I have said that I am not running and I’m having a great time being presi–” before stopping and correcting herself.