The Earlybird: Today's headlines

Mayors have faith, Powell visits Mideast, Dems push for patients, court rules for CFR, Jersey votes today, New York bans cell phone driving:

  • At the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Detroit on Monday, President Bush "urged mayors to help him convince a skeptical Congress to adopt" his faith-based initiative, the Detroit News reports. "The mayors' group issued a broad endorsement of the concept of increasing the role of faith-based groups, but did not specifically back the legislation."
  • "With legislation stalled and skeptics concerned taxpayers' money would be spent on religious outreach, Bush tried to reassure critics by saying his initiative would fund 'the works of the faithful, not the faith itself,'" Reuters reports.
  • Bush announced Monday that civil rights leader Rosa Parks sent a letter to him endorsing the proposal, the Detroit Free Press reports.
  • Also at the mayors' conference Monday, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., said "his chamber should join the Senate in approving money to clean up the nation's estimated 450,000 brownfield waste sites," the Detroit News reports.
Talking Things Over
  • Today Bush will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the White House, AP reports. On Monday Sharon "demanded a 'total cessation of violence' by the Palestinians before progressing with a U.S.-backed plan for restarting peace negotiations."
  • Bush and Sharon are expected to discuss "the Mitchell Commission report and the timeline to resuming peace talks envisioned in those recommendations," UPI reports.
  • Former Sen. George Mitchell said Monday that "the Bush administration should invite Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to Washington, a step it has refrained from taking in its first five months," Reuters reports.
  • Secretary of State Colin Powell will head to the Middle East today for a four-city tour and a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, UPI reports. "Some administration officials are expressing concern that the trip lacks a clearly defined mission and that there are no clear objectives."
Administrative Issues
  • The White House released a statement Monday that said Bush "will head off a looming strike by flight attendants at American Airlines Inc. if the carrier and its union can't agree to a new contract by an 11:01 p.m. Saturday deadline," the Dallas Morning News reports.
  • Today Bush will meet briefly with Peruvian President-elect Alejandro Toledo, who is in Washington to talk with Bush administration officials about "counter-narcotics strategy in the Andes and aid for his earthquake-stricken nation," Reuters reports.
  • Bush also will meet with South African President Thabo Mbeki today, and the two leaders will discuss AIDS in Africa, AP reports.
  • The General Accounting Office on Monday "demanded documents from the Bush administration's energy task force despite White House protests that an investigation would lack a legal basis," the Dallas Morning News reports. The agency is investigating "complaints by House Democrats that Republican donors in the oil and gas businesses improperly influenced the task force led by Vice President Dick Cheney."
On The Hill
  • Senate Democrats are hoping to "win a pivotal vote on employer health-care liability" today as part of the patients' rights debate, the Wall Street Journal reports. Democrats also want to "push for an agreement that will assure passage of their patients-rights bill no later than early July."
  • Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., visited his home state on Monday to tout the McCain-Edwards-Kennedy patients' rights legislation, the Lansing State Journal reports. Levin said that "significant public support for it may make Bush change his mind" about vetoing the legislation if it is approved.
  • Democrats took over the Senate two weeks ago, but "Majority Leader Thomas Daschle and GOP senators are still fighting over how the new Senate will run," AP reports.
  • "The scheduling of a Senate hearing to confirm Rep. Asa Hutchinson as the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration is in limbo" because "the Senate Judiciary Committee can't schedule Hutchinson's hearing until the new chairman of the panel, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, knows who his committee members are," the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
  • The House approved legislation Monday "calling for a national monument honoring John Adams; his son who also was president, John Quincy Adams; and the matriarch of the Quincy family, Abigail Adams," the Boston Globe reports.
Not Seeing The Big Picture?
  • "Cultural skirmishes over homosexuality, drug use and women's rights marred the opening of a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on the global AIDS epidemic yesterday, delaying the drafting of a Declaration of Commitment that was to be the centerpiece of the three-day meeting," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
  • Powell spoke at the summit and said "that the United States will provide more money to fund the battle against the AIDS virus," the Boston Globe reports.
Around The World
  • "Former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh yesterday promised family members of the U.S. servicemen killed in a 1996 terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia that federal authorities will continue to pursue the case to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice," the Washington Times reports.
  • On Monday Yugoslav authorities asked that Slobodan Milosevic's international war crimes case be transferred from a local court to a U.N. court, Reuters reports.
  • "In a letter written four days before his death," Rep. John Joseph Moakley, D-Mass., "made a final plea for President Fidel Castro of Cuba to take steps that would pave the way for ending the U.S. trade embargo against the island nation," the Boston Globe reports.
  • American troops escorted "several hundred armed Albanian rebels away from a town that has been the most recent flashpoint" in the Macedonian conflict, the New York Times reports. "The operation set off a huge riot here in the capital, where citizens are already angry over outside intervention."
That Should Make McCain Happy
  • The Supreme Court ruled in favor of campaign finance advocates Monday that "Congress may limit the amount political parties spend on their congressional candidates," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. "In a 5-4 decision, the court concluded that parties do not have a First Amendment free-speech right to contribute unlimited amounts of money to candidates."
  • "The ruling could provide new momentum for congressional efforts to overhaul the nation's campaign finance laws," the Baltimore Sun reports.
  • But the 5-4 ruling "does not address the issue of unregulated 'soft money,'" which is a major target of the campaign finance legislation currently being considered by legislators, AP reports.
More From The Court...
  • The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that "legal immigrants who face deportation because they were found guilty of crimes have the right to challenge their deportation in court," the Dallas Morning News reports.
  • The court also ruled "that freelancers have a right to be paid extra when publishers reissue their work on electronic databases or Web sites," the Boston Globe reports.
  • The court "turned aside" the National Rifle Association's challenge "over whether the government can retain information about gun buyers under the landmark Brady gun control law," AP reports.
  • The court refused "to hear an appeal of the 1996 Hopwood ruling that effectively stopped Texas universities from using racial preferences in admissions and scholarships," the Houston Chronicle reports.
  • And the court ruled that "a mandatory advertising campaign for the mushroom industry violates the First Amendment guarantee of free speech," AP reports. "The 6-to-3 ruling was a victory for mushroom producer United Foods Inc., which argued that a mandatory mushroom promotional campaign forced the company to pay for ads that benefited its competitors."
  • "The Supreme Court will hand down its remaining decisions of the term on Thursday," AP reports.
You've Got (Too Much) Mail
  • A new study shows that employees "spent an average of 49 minutes a day on e-mail, 30% to 35% more time than they did a year ago," and that "management-level workers will spend four hours a day on e-mail by 2002," USA Today reports.
N.J. GOP Primary Today
  • Today is the GOP gubernatorial primary in New Jersey between former Rep. Bob Franks and Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler. "Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Officials in both campaigns expect turnout to be well below the 403,000 Republicans who cast ballots in the last contested GOP gubernatorial primary in 1993," the Newark Star-Ledger reports.
  • The race "drew to a fittingly unpredictable close today, as Bob Franks, the favorite just 10 days ago, ricocheted through roadside diners in search of every last vote, while... Schundler, the supposed dark horse, struck a front-runner's pose by resting in his office for much of the day," the New York Times reports.
  • "If he beats" Franks, Schundler "will get national recognition for leading a right-wing mutiny and conquering a party organization that has ruled Trenton for a decade," the Trenton Times reports.
  • provides a primary guide for the race, including ads, polls and links to results.
On The Issues
  • The Washington Times reports that "the clearest distinction between" Virginia gubernatorial hopefuls Mark Earley (R) and Mark Warner (D) is that Earley supports a tax-credit plan for companies and individuals to set up scholarships but does not support vouchers, and Warner supports neither.
  • "Warner pledged yesterday to devote about a half-billion dollars to bring teacher salaries up to the national average over the next four years if he is elected governor," the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot reports that in making that pledge, Warner "joined" Earley on the education issue.
  • Ignoring "pleas for party unity," Democratic New York governor candidates Andrew Cuomo and Carl McCall "traded the sharpest barbs of the" race Monday night at a state Broadcasters Association conference, the New York Post reports.
  • Comptroller McCall "said Monday that he is investigating the spending on state-financed advertising featuring Gov. George Pataki [R] because it appears to be 'politically motivated,'" AP reports.
  • The Texas Republican Party is airing eight radio ads backing Gov. Rick Perry (R) in "the first big media push by Perry backers before next year's elections, when he'll seek a full term," the Dallas Morning News reports.
Lining Up The Candidates
  • National Democrats "are pressing" Sen. Jean Carnahan, D-Mo., "hard to run" for a full term in 2002. "The way party leaders see it, Mrs. Carnahan is in the strongest position of any Democrat to fend off" an expected tough challenge from the GOP, the New York Times reports. Carnahan has not said whether she will run.
  • Massachusetts state Sen. Stephen Lynch (D), who is running in the 9th District special election, "was quoted as supporting domestic partnerships and extending the same benefits as those given to married couples," showing "newfound support" as gay activists were "readying opposition" to him, the Boston Herald reports. Tonight is the fist debate in the race to replace Rep. Joe Moakley, D-Mass.
  • Also on Monday, Massachusetts state Sen. Marc Pacheco (D) became the third announced candidate in the 9th District race, joining Lynch and state Sen. Brian Joyce, AP reports.
  • Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, "will move from rural southern Iowa to Des Moines to run in a new congressional district," setting "up a probable Democratic primary next year against state Sen. Matt McCoy," the Des Moines Register reports.
  • Talk show host Jerry Springer "said he was surprised to learn of rumors that he would challenge" Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, and he said he "has no immediate plans to run for office," the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
  • Attorney Gerrie Schipske (D) "kicked off her bid for a rematch" against Rep. Steve Horn, R-Calif., over the weekend, CongressDailyAM reports. In 2000, Schipske lost to Horn by less than 1,800 votes.
  • Rep. Earl Hilliard, D-Ala., "seems unlikely to suffer from" last week's congressional reprimand "at the ballot box." The fifth-term congressman "has shown unusual resiliency when it comes to official investigations," the Birmingham News reports.
From Coast To Coast
  • The New York Assembly signed into law on Monday a bill banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving, becoming the first state to adopt such a measure, the Albany Times Union reports. Gov. Pataki is expected to sign the bill "as soon as it hits his desk."
  • "A rare series of earthquakes jolted the eastern Washington city of Spokane" Monday, the Los Angeles Times Wire reports. No injuries were reported.
Condit Dilemmas
  • In California's 18th District, "once called Condit Country, people really want to believe" Rep. Gary Condit (D) when he says he "was just 'good friends' with" missing intern Chandra Levy, the New York Times reports.
  • "In two dramatic face-to-face encounters last week" between Condit and Washington police, the congressman "continued his stubborn silence about" his relationship with Levy, "though he was helpful with details about her activities the day of her disappearance," the New York Post reports.
  • The New York Daily News reports that in 1998, Condit called "for the public airing of every detail of then-President Bill Clinton's affair with an intern."