The Earlybird: Today's headlines

Checks are in the mail, Lieberman emerges on energy, Blair wins, McVeigh gives up, Jeb's running, Largent resigns, Torricelli raises cash, Condit hires a lawyer:

  • President Bush on Thursday signed the $1.35 trillion tax cut bill into law, USA Today reports. "Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said the government will begin mailing 91.6 million rebate checks in July," and lower tax rates will begin to be phased in then as well.
  • Tax cut supporters predicted "that the rate cuts would produce stronger economic growth in the fourth quarter and thereafter," the Washington Times reports.
  • "Even before President Bush signed" the tax cut bill, "politicians were talking about how to revise it," the New York Times reports.
  • Today Bush will be in Iowa to promote the tax cut, the Des Moines Register reports. He will visit "Tom and Judy Barrett's farm near Waukee," which the administration says will be "affected" by Bush's repeal of the estate tax.
  • Bush and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., had dinner together on Thursday, Reuters reports.
  • Bush will nominate Jo Anne Barnhart, "veteran GOP administrator of social programs," to head the Social Security Administration, CongressDailyAM reports.
  • Bush met the Baltimore Ravens, Super Bowl champions, on Thursday and gave them "a presidential pat on the back," the Baltimore Sun reports. Bush compared the Ravens' win to his missile defense plan, saying "skeptics of his proposal for a missile defense system should take note of how a team with a superb defense... won the Super Bowl."
Shifting Positions
  • In "a far cry from its earlier position," the White House on Thursday "readily acknowledged" that "climate change was a problem but gave little clue as to what it intended to do about it," the New York Times reports. And when Bush travels to Europe next week, he will tell leaders there that he "takes this issue very seriously."
  • "Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said Thursday she will hold three hearings on work-related injuries, a first step toward pursuing a Bush administration policy to protect workers through employer cooperation," AP reports.
  • "The Bush administration is delaying the release of 68,000 pages of Ronald Reagan's White House records so attorneys can review the confidential memos and briefing papers that could offer a glimpse into how national policy-making was made during the 1980s," AP reports.
Energy Watchdog
  • On Thursday Senate Democrats "unleashed" Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman "as the administration watchdog," the Washington Times reports. Lieberman "said politics would play no role in his planned hearings on the administration's environmental and energy policies," but Republicans "were skeptical."
  • Lieberman said Thursday that "he will examine" the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's "refusal to cap the skyrocketing wholesale price of electricity in western states," Reuters reports.
  • House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said Thursday that "price caps on energy amount to a quick fix that would merely ease the way to the 'next crisis,'" AP reports.
  • "The House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee approved a $18.9 billion draft spending bill Thursday that restores funds cut by President Bush's budget for energy research and increases spending for energy conservation and land preservation initiatives," National Journal News Service reports.
  • Gasoline prices are falling across the nation, USA Today reports. "Prices are on their way down around the country, from a penny or two a gallon in San Francisco, where gas is now $2.13 a gallon, and New York, where it's $1.90, to more dramatic decreases in the Midwest."
Speedy Defense
  • The administration "is considering a crash effort to put into place a rudimentary missile defense system before the end of President Bush's current term in 2004," the Washington Post reports. "The Defense Department has been pressing private contractors for options to speed up deployment of missile defenses."
  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said during a meeting of NATO's defense ministers in Brussels "that the United States is likely to deploy certain antiballistic missile systems before testing on them is completed," the New York Times reports.
Around The World
  • Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor Party won a landslide victory in Britain's elections Thursday, the Baltimore Sun reports.
  • reports that "William Hague is to resign as leader of the Conservative party following his disastrous showing in the general election."
  • "At least 8 schoolchildren were killed and more than 20 other people were wounded" on Thursday "when an apparently deranged man burst into an elite elementary school" in a Japanese suburb "and began stabbing students with a kitchen knife," the New York Times reports.
  • "The militant Islamic group Hamas accused visiting Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet on Friday of inciting Palestinian infighting and vowed the movement would continue its attacks against Israelis," Reuters reports.
In The Courts
  • Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh on Thursday dropped the fight to end his execution, which means he will be put to death by the federal government on Monday, the Oklahoman reports.
  • "Idaho prosecutors have not decided whether to pursue charges against an FBI agent who killed white separatist Vicki Weaver during a 1992 standoff, despite an appeals court ruling paving the way for a trial," the Washington Times reports.
  • On Thursday a federal judge ruled against opponents of Washington's World War II memorial, "rejecting their request to postpone construction on the Mall," AP reports. "Hours after the ruling, the American Battle Monuments Commission announced that a $56 million contract had been awarded to two companies to start construction work on the memorial this summer."
  • "A federal judge ruled Elián González's Miami relatives can pursue their lawsuit against the U.S. government solely on grounds that gun-wielding agents may have used 'excessive force' during the April 22, 2000, raid to seize the Cuban boy," the Miami Herald reports.
  • "The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold its monthly meeting today to discuss its report on the Florida election in the midst of the latest attacks on the group as a partisan body," the Washington Times reports.
Debates And Announcements
  • New Jersey's GOP gubernatorial candidates -- former Rep. Bob Franks and Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler -- faced off in their first debate last night, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. "Schundler, as the underdog, came out on the offensive" as the two "relentlessly questioned each other's tax-cutting credentials."
  • "In between the jabs concerning their fiscal records, the two candidates displayed differing stances on key issues such as abortion and school choice," the Trenton Times reports.
  • Virginia gubernatorial candidate Mark Warner's campaign "yesterday defended its relationship with a major contributor who profited from the Internet pornography trade just a day after Republican candidate Mark L. Earley returned a $47,000 gift from a businessman with ties to Internet pornography," the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
  • "A source close to" Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said the governor will announce today "that he plans to run for re-election," the Miami Herald reports. "A formal re-election announcement is scheduled for later this month, but the source said Bush made up his mind Wednesday night and was ready to declare his intentions today."
  • Rep. Steve Largent, R-Okla., announced Thursday that he will resign on Nov. 29 -- after the congressional session is over -- "to focus full-time on running for governor," the Oklahoman reports. Oklahoma law says a special election can't take place until the seat is officially vacant.
  • Arkansas state Sen. Jon Fitch (D) announced yesterday that he is running for governor, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
Who Will Survive?
  • Sen. Bob Torricelli, D-N.J., stepped "out from the shadow of a federal investigation" last night "to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for a re-election campaign," the New York Times reports. "After United States Senator Jon S. Corzine, the more notable politicians on hand included the Hudson County executive, Robert C. Janiszewski," and state Sen. Raymond Lesniak.
  • During his fundraiser, "Torricelli gave an impassioned defense of his record and achievements, and said he would not be intimidated by the Justice Department," and he said "that he has been 'publicly raped,'" the Newark Star-Ledger reports.
  • The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that "an Arkansas rumor that former U.S. Rep. Jay Dickey [R] is going to try to regain the 4th Congressional District seat next year has made its way to Capitol Hill."
  • The Boston Herald reports that Max Kennedy (D), "who is planning to launch his congressional candidacy next week" in Massachusetts' 9th District, was arrested in the early 1980s, "along with his cousin, Michael Skakel, for assaulting a Harvard University police officer."
  • Massachusetts state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson (D) is considering a challenge to Rep. Michael Capuano, R-Mass., the Boston Herald reports. "Wilkerson said her plans will partly hinge on redistricting."
  • Indiana state Sen. R. Michael Young (R) said he will form an exploratory committee in the 4th District -- a seat GOP Reps. Steve Buyer and Brian Kerns already "claim it as their own," the Indianapolis Star-News reports.
  • "Michael Skupin, the White Lake software publisher who was forced to leave the CBS-TV reality show Survivor after he was burned in a fire, said at a Michigan Republican fund-raiser Thursday night he is seriously considering" challenging Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., in 2002, the Detroit News reports.
Condit Hires Lawyer
  • Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., "has hired a lawyer and demanded that media outlets retract news stories about the nature of his relationship with" Chandra Levy, "a young woman who has been missing for five weeks," AP reports.
  • The New York Post reports that Levy's cell phone records show that she called Condit "several times the day before she mysteriously vanished."
More Than Peanuts
  • Congress awarded a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal to "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz on Thursday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

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