Today's Papers

Leaky White House

The New York Times leads with an update on Bush’s new political focus on the economy, and the Washington Post fronts news that Bush is considering a capital gains cut. The Los Angles Times leads (at least online) and the NYT fronts news that the U.N. conference on racism has ended with an accord. The Washington Post (online) lead chronicles the death of 40 children whose troubles were ignored by D.C. social services.

Bush hopes that a capital gains cut will reinvigorate the slouching economy, according to administration aides quoted in the Post. In fact, the aides’ logic runs, the economic downturn will shield the proposal from Democratic broadsides. While Hill conservatives are supportive of the proposal, the president himself has been noncommittal. In a related fronter, the Post reports on the lack of optimism among both economists and consumers. “The bounce-back that everyone was hoping for in the second half of 2001 just won’t occur,” notes one economist.

According to the NYT lead, the Bush team will redouble its efforts to stimulate the economy and recalibrate the president’s message in order to avoid the mistakes of his father. Last Tuesday, political guru Karl Rove listened to conservatives gripe about the economy and Bush’s handling of it. “You didn’t get the sense that anyone was holding back,” says Mark McKinnon, the president’s media adviser. Political necessity will likely force Bush to focus on the economy instead of his planned fall offensive on education issues and on what Bush calls “community of character.” The NYT suggests that Bush could learn a thing or two from his predecessor on talking to financial players. Clinton allayed Wall Street jitters as did his skilled treasury secretary, Robert Rubin. The Times also advises current Secretary Paul O’Neill to take note. Criticism is coming from all sides, and it seems that Bush staffers are (finally) starting to leak. Part of the problem is that Bush “hates the idea of being coached and handled, just like his father did,” says one anonymous aide.

The grimmest reading of the economy comes from the LAT, which reports that some economists think that the unemployment jump from 4.5 percent in July to 4.9 percent in August may send the economy into recession. Consumer psychology is starting to change, suggest the economists. Still, according to tracking polls, many Americans are more confident about hiring prospects than employers actually are, or should be. Unlike the NYT and WP stories on the subject, the LAT does not have a political slant.

In a yearlong investigation, the WP obtained the records documenting the deaths of 180 of the 229 children who died between 1993 and 2000 in the District of Columbia. The Post alleges that 40 of these children, mostly infants and toddlers, “lost their lives after government workers failed to take key preventive action or placed children in unsafe homes or institutions.” The report catalogues the ways in which these children met their tragic ends and where social services were negligent. Part of the problem is that social workers are overworked, underexperienced or just plain too old and too difficult to let go.

 The NYT and LAT front while the WP stuffs news that the final agreement on racism and slavery was nearly scuttled by Arab efforts to condemn Israel as a racist state. While the accord is less than what many had hoped for, “below the political radar screen there are lots of victories,” says Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch in the LAT. In a closing statement, Canadian Ambassador Paul Heinbecker said, “under international law, there is no right to a remedy for historical acts that were not illegal at the time at which they occurred.” The crowd responded with shouts of “Shame! Shame!” Though the United States and Israel withdrew in protest from the nine-day conference, the final accord was a “bitter failure” for the Arab League, claims Shimon Peres, Israel’s foreign minister, from Jerusalem.

The NYT fronts a report that executions are on the rise in China. According to “state news media,” as many as 191 people have been put to death in a single day, and since April, 3000 people have been executed. In some cases, confessions are wrung by torture. “Let’s just say it was `forced interrogation and confession under duress,’ ” says one man who was able to prove his innocence.

Dating habits and courting among some Christians are reverting back to Victorian standards, reports a NYT fronter. Not only is pre-marital sex taboo, but in some cases, dating is simply too emotionally draining and therefore to be avoided. Even hugs should be at arms length. “There has been a big movement in the last several years of people going back to the old courtship model,” says a dean at an evangelical college. For example, more than 800,000 copies of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” have been sold. The paper misses an opportunity to compare these dating protocols with some less restrained habits in the mainstream.

All three papers front the story of the first ever sister-sister Grand Slam final, where the elder Venus bested Serena in two sets. Said the victorious Williams, “I’m the big sister, I take care of her, I make sure she has everything, even if I don’t have anything. I love her, and it’s hard.” “Oh stop,” responded her kid sister.