The Washington Post leads with the West Coast campaigning of both George W. Bush and Al Gore, going highest with Gore's reverse topspin charge that Bush's tax cut proposal is "a massive redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the wealthiest few ... a form of class warfare on behalf of billionaires." The New York Timesleads with a local story with national legs, the dropping of all charges against two New Jersey state troopers arising from their shooting of some black and Hispanic men in an episode widely seen as a test of how the legal system would handle charges of racial profiling--on the grounds that the prosecutors violated the civil rights of the accused cops in their presentation of the case to the grand jury. USA Today and the Los Angeles Times go with the crash during an attempted takeoff of a Singapore Airlines 747, which killed at least 68 people. The LAT fronts the heart attack death of Steve Allen, which gets reefered everywhere else.
The WP lead reports that Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania continue to be the most up-in-the air big electoral vote states and that the California race has narrowed. But it also says Gore's decision not to stop in Washington while out West reflects his campaign's growing confidence about that state. The story spends much of its space on Gore's tax point and plays low Bush's appearance yesterday at a church-based center for the needy, where he talked about his own past battle with alcohol and his support for government assistance for faith-based organizations. The paper quotes Bush saying there that Gore "called programs such as these the 'crumbs of compassion,' ... I don't believe that. I believe programs like these are the bread of life." The NYT front story on Bush also plays the visit low, but gives more detail, especially about Bush's interaction with some of the shelter's troubled clients.
The NYT front breaks out a separate story on a new Bush ad responding to Gore's charge that Bush's Social Security plan spends some money twice--mainly, it seems from the Times account, by using Gore's past citation of the cost of medications for his mother-in-law and his dog to impugn his credibility. Another new ad is flagged near the bottom of the Post lead: a new one for Ralph Nader that parodies Monster.com spots in which children say what they want to be when they grow up. Sample lines: "I want to be lied to." "I want to be apathetic." "I want to vote for the lesser of two evils."
The Taipei crash leads say that the 747 apparently hit something on the runway while taking off during a storm and burst into flames. USAT passes along a Reuters report that a tire not belonging to the stricken plane was later found on the runway. The LAT notes that this was the first major accident in the airline's 28 years of operation. USAT says it had never had a fatal crash. The Wall Street Journal story on the crash observes that it is also the first fatal crash involving the largest version of the 747 and that given details from survivors about how hard it was to exit the burning aircraft, the accident is certain to result in increased focus by airlines and their regulators on evacuation equipment and procedures.
The NYT off-leads and the WP and LAT front Napster's agreement to a plan under which the company would charge for the music downloads it provides and share part of the proceeds with record companies. The arrangement would be subsidized by Bertelsmann, which was one of the companies that went to court last year to try to shut the company down. The NYT quotes Bertelsmann's CEO, Thomas Middelhoff, on the need to reassess the legal status of file-sharing: Referring to millions who participate in the practice, he says, "They can't all be criminals." The LAT and WP seem less convinced that the deal is a watershed, both noting that it doesn't stop lawsuits from other companies besides Bertelsmann. The papers all also note technical problems, and the Post adds that going pay-for-play could alienate the company's traditional fan base.
The NYT reports increasing friction between the U.S. and Yemeni investigators on the Cole case. Citing unnamed American officials, the paper cites the latest example: the Yemenis delivering to U.S. cops a videotape from the harbor police surveillance camera that begins only after the bombing and appears to have been edited to show only parts of the chaotic aftermath.
The NYT goes inside with word that top execs of CNN, the WP, the NYT, and the Newspaper Association of America have signed a letter to President Clinton urging him to veto legislation on his desk that would make it a felony in all cases for a government official to disclose classified information, citing their fear that such a tightening of classification law would impede the flow of information to the public. The story leaves until the penultimate paragraph the execs' best arguments, a list of stories that reached the public only because someone leaked classified documents: the Pentagon Papers, Iran-Contra, radiological and biological warfare experiments conducted on unknowing Americans, safety violations in nuclear power plants, waste and fraud in the defense industry, and human rights abuses around the world.
A story on the front of the WP "Style" section passes along a new idea making the think-tank rounds about what it takes to make a region an important bastion of high-tech. It's not just having a first-rate university, visionary entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists. To put the place over the top, so the theory goes, the No. 1 thing you also need is a high concentration of gays. The story doesn't say anything about a high concentration of think tanks.