The NYT leads with the Vermont House's passage of a bill giving gay and lesbian couples virtually all the benefits of marriage. USAT fronts Vermont but leads instead with a story that's been on the fronts a lot this week, but never as the lead--the simmering tensions in Taiwan over this weekend's elections after China's premier earlier in the week implied that his country might go to war with the island nation if the most strongly pro-independence candidate were to win. The paper quotes a Taiwan newspaperman's summary of China's position on Taiwan: "Marry me or I'll shoot you." The WP also fronts Vermont but goes with Madeleine Albright's expected announcement today of a development tipped previously by the LAT and USAT--a major overture toward Iran involving giving access to Iranian assets in this country frozen over twenty years ago, lifting an import ban on Iranian luxury goods and making travel to the U.S. easier for Iranian athletes and academics. The LAT leads with the Dow's big yesterday--a record one-day point gain and a record daily volume. The WP and NYT top-front the story. For the second day in a row, the LAT explains, it was "old-economy" stocks such as American Express, Johnson & Johnson, and GM that were soaring.
The NYT explains that the Vermont House vote will probably be followed by Senate passage and become law soon, leaving the state with the nation's most sweeping set of rights for same-sex couples. The areas of parity with man-woman marriages include child custody law, probate law, workers' comp, and family leave. The headline over the USAT front-pager on the vote reads "GAY MARRIAGE NEARS IN VT." As the NYT explains, this isn't quite right: The bill, despite guaranteeing new rights to same-sex couples, also explicitly says that these "civil unions" are not marriages, which can only be between a man and a woman.
Yesterday, after nearly four years, the office of the independent counsel reported that no criminal wrongdoing was involved in the White House's acquiring of some 900 confidential FBI files, many of them concerning prominent Republicans. Of the majors, only the NYT puts the story on the front, which is where it has to go, given that the original stories implying Clinton administration skullduggery ran there.
The NYT fronts (and the WP stuffs) the immediate political aftermath of the George W. Bush interview the Times ran yesterday: After being quoted in that story as not being at all moved policy-wise by John McCain's candidacy, Bush made several stump remarks yesterday expressing his appreciation of and frequent agreement with McCain. The NYT says that one of McCain's chief supporters in the Senate called the interview "pretty arrogant." The LAT inside effort on the interview dust-up quotes another McCain backer as saying Bush is either arrogant or "politically tone-deaf."
Stand by for more debate about out-of-control cops in NYC, where, the NYT front reports, last night an unarmed Brooklyn man waiting for a cab was shot and killed during a scuffle with three undercover narcotics detectives. This is, says the paper, the third time in 13 months that NYPD plainclothes officers shot and killed an unarmed black man. There has been one consistent defect in the press discussion of these cases, and this story is no exception: There is no mention of how police use of non-lethal weapons might make a difference in these cases. A story suggestion: How about covering the NYPD's non-lethal weapons and training or lack thereof?
The LAT reports inside that a number--and perhaps all--of the Oscar statuettes bound for the upcoming awards ceremony were apparently stolen from a truck. A gap in the story: It doesn't mention what the statues are made of and hence whether or not they are materially or only sentimentally valuable.
A WSJ story claims that the image of soldiers on food stamps, cited frequently during the campaign by both George W. Bush and John McCain, is "seriously inflated." The story says that according to the Pentagon about 7,600 soldiers now receive food stamps, but that the majority of them do so only because when assessing eligibility, the USDA doesn't include the value of free military housing. Without such quirks, the Pentagon estimates that only 750 to 1,000 soldiers would receive food stamps. The story says this sort of misinformation makes it look like entry-level pay should be a big military budget issue, whereas actually there's a far greater need to increase the pay of experienced soldiers enough for them to want to stay in.
"Kill him, then torture him." The NYT runs a Reuters dispatch stating the sentence handed down in a Pakistani court to a man convicted of strangling, cutting into pieces and throwing into acid 100 children: that he be strangled 100 times, his body be cut into 100 pieces and put into acid.