The Los Angeles Times leads with a new Commerce Department report showing a robust 5.8 percent economic growth rate during the first quarter of 2002. The LAT’s headline champions the surge, though the story—on the whole—is sobering. The New York Times leads with President Bush again urging Israel to end the incursions into Palestinian territories. The Washington Post goes with U.S. cardinals lining up behind zero tolerance at a dinner in Philadelphia.
The good news about the economy—the 5.8 percent jump—is offset by other, less sunny indicators, according to the LAT lead. Consumer confidence fell and the stock market suffered its worst week since September. These two factors are intimately linked, the NYT explains, because “consumers have kept the economy afloat the last two years,” so the confidence drop naturally spooked investors. The Dow lost 1.2 percent yesterday and 3.4 percent for the week.
In an especially grim turn, Verisign, a company that registers Internet domain names, lost 46 percent of its value on Friday after announcing that it’s second-quarter forecasts were overly optimistic, the NYT reports.
Speaking from the ranch in Crawford, Bush again urged Israel to withdraw from Palestinian-controlled territories, the NYT reports in its lead. He was responding to an Israeli offensive in the West Bank in which two Palestinians were killed and 11 detained. The problem is that the incursions seem to have “restored the domestic standing” of Ariel Sharon, a Times observation based on opinion polls published in the Israeli newspaper Maariv showing that 65 percent of Israelis approve of their prime minster’s performance, up from 35 percent in March, before the attacks began. Deep down in the story, it’s reported that 48 percent of the poll respondents favor banning from television any journalists critical of the government or the military operations.
When he met with Bush on Thursday, Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warned of “grave consequences” if the U.S. failed to quell the Israeli campaign, the NYT reminds. He presented W. with an “eight-point” plan—the administration called it “helpful”—which included a return to the borders pre-1967. On Friday, the prince spent time with George H.W.—Bush the elder—riding the train from Houston to College Station and touring the Bush library at Texas A&M.
U.S. cardinals, gathered in Philadelphia for a Catholic University fund-raiser, gave a big, collective thumbs-down to pedophilia, according to the Post lead. “All of the cardinals are agreed on zero tolerance,” says Cardinal Bevilacqua of Philly, “and by that I mean that we are all agreed that no priest guilty of even one act of sexual abuse of a minor will function in any ministry or any capacity in our dioceses.” The cardinal also spoke of celibacy and homosexuality. When a heterosexual man takes a vow of celibacy “he’s giving up a very good thing,” he said, “and that is a family and children. That would not be true about a homosexual-oriented candidate. … By his orientation he’s not giving up family and marriage. He’s giving up what the church considers an aberration, a moral evil.”
The NYT runs a companion piece on lawyers who bring suits against the church on behalf of abuse victims. Working what was once a “marginal backwater of the law,” these lawyers are now deluged with cases. The piece centers around Jeffrey Anderson, a Boston lawyer whose daughter was molested at age 7 by a therapist who was formerly a Catholic priest. “Every time I make an effort, it’s for every survivor and for Amy, too,” Anderson says. He has won more than $60 million in settlements from Catholic dioceses and—just in case he runs out of priests—he has a new target in mind. “We’re launching a major assault on the Mormon Church,” he says.
Everybody fronts the massacre at a German high school where a recently expelled 19-year-old stalked the halls with a shotgun and a handgun in search of teachers. He took down 17 people—14 of them adults, mostly teachers—before killing himself. The NYT focuses on Germany’s strict gun-control laws and low crime rate, noting that the number of shooting deaths each year nationwide is about half New York’s.
Finally, an 18-year-old freshman at SiTanka Huron University in Huron, S.D., tested HIV-positive a month ago and subsequently had unprotected sex with multiple partners, according to the LAT. Now he faces up to 75 years in prison and $75,000 in fines. In South Dakota, it is a felony to intentionally expose someone to HIV. “That, my friends, is no different from pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger,” says the governor. Two of the freshman’s numerous partners have tested positive.