The New York Times leads with George W. Bush asking Pat Buchanan to stay with the GOP. Though disturbed by Pat's views on World War II, Bush, positioning himself as the clear Republican front-runner, claims he needs a unified party to win. The Washington Post leads with a federal appeals court's rejection of late-term abortion bans passed in Arkansas, Iowa, and Nebraska. Judges dismissed all three bans because they could unconstitutionally restrict first- and second-trimester abortions (the story is stuffed by the NYT). The Los Angeles Times goes local, describing a battery of reforms to California's ailing child support program.
According to the NYT, Bush's desire to keep Pat in the party, expressed in an Associated Press interview, puts him at odds with Republicans such as John McCain and William Kristol, who feel that Buchanan would do the GOP a favor by leaving. The NYT also notes that on Wednesday, in an address to Texas Jewish groups, Bush announced that he wouldn't fuel the debate by entering it. The WP explicates Buchanan's theory: the same "liberal interventionism" that spurred Hitler's aggression now threatens to drive Russia "straight into the arms of a Chinese Communist."
The NYT and the WP agree that the abortion bans were deemed unconstitutional because their wording could also prohibit procedures used in first- and second-trimester abortions. The ruling will likely endanger the ban passed last week in Missouri, as well as a similarly worded bill pending in Congress. The papers disagree about how many states have passed such bans (WP, 30; NYT, 28), and how many of these bans have been temporarily or permanently blocked by appeals courts (WP, 18; NYT, 19). Further appeals are guaranteed: "U.S. Supreme Court, here we come," one activist told the WP.
All California seems to agree that the state's child support programs needed today's legislative fix, but the LAT waits until after the jump to describe what's wrong, and how the reforms will fix it. Previously, cases were handled by California's district attorneys, with little statewide supervision. This fragmented system proved ineffective: In L.A., only one of 10 cases filed led to collection, thousands of men were wrongly billed, and attempts to create a statewide child support computer system failed, resulting in large federal fines. The new laws transfer the attorneys' duties to new county offices, which will be overseen by a new statewide Department of Child Support.
An NYT front-pager reports that, in the face of violent protests, Indonesia's president delayed signing a law concerning the military's emergency powers. The bill was rushed through the parliament Thursday and engendered protest from students who feared that the law could lead to a military coup. Officials claim that the act would actually decrease military power. Three protesters and a police officer were killed during the protests. The WP stuffs the story, but mentions early on that one of the protesters was apparently killed by a sniper using live ammunition, though the government claims only rubber bullets were used. The NYT says why this is important: A similar discrepancy in May 1998 helped fuel protests that toppled the Suharto regime.
The WP front tells of Bob Dole's growing fund-raising role in his wife's campaign. Dole is targeting his past supporters, many of them generous Bush donors, claiming that no matter who wins, Libby's campaign is good for the GOP. One source claims that Dole actually combed through Bush's list of donors for contact names (a violation of FEC regulations). Some sources suggest that Dole's redoubled efforts are "penance" for disparaging comments he had made about the campaign.
The LAT fronts a scrutiny of online chat room stings. Though the growing number of stings are leading to a lot of arrests, they may draw attention away from what is overwhelmingly an offline problem. Child advocacy experts say that offenders make first contact with their victims online in only a tiny fraction of the cases they handle. And in such cases, contact is usually initiated in mainstream chat areas. The more hard-core rooms, it seems, are now frequented largely by undercover agents.
Liberté, égalité, T&A: Marianne, France's buxom equivalent of Uncle Sam, is best known as the topless revolutionary in Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People. But in the past two centuries, she has appeared in many guises, modeled after many different women. A front page NYT story reports that controversy has erupted over who will be the model for Marianne 2000. The finalists are a model, a singer, a journalist, a game show host/windsurfer, and a model/actress, but protesters want a Marianne who represents the achievements of French women beyond the runway. Today's Papers thinks they've already got her: past Marianne models include Bridgitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve, whose supple republican fervor and firm, curvaceous civic virtues are an inspiration to patriots everywhere.