The New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today all lead with the Supreme Court's ruling that states can be sued by their employees if they violate a federal law that allows employees to take time off for family emergencies. Many Supreme Court rulings recently have granted states immunity from discrimination lawsuits, but in this case the court decided by a 6-to-3 margin that that precedent is overridden by the Federal Medical Leave Act and its intent to break down gender discrimination (that is, the assumption that only women need be family caregivers). Such discrimination, wrote Chief Justice Rehnquist in the majority decision, is "weighty enough to justify" permitting states to face such suits. The Los Angeles Times leads with word that Russia has mostly come around to the U.S.'s position and is now pressuring Iran to come clean about its nuclear effort. Russia has a long-standing and lucrative deal with Iran to help build a nuclear power plant, but in recent months it has been embarrassed by mounting revelations about Tehran's nukes program.
The LAT's lead also notes up high that the White House said it wasn't impressed by Iran's announcement that it has arrested some alleged AQ members. The papers, particularly the Wall Street Journal, note that there's an increasingly public rift within the administration over how much to pressure Iran and over whether Tehran is even harboring AQ types. Some in the White House want the U.S. to cut off talks with Iran, while Secretary of State Powell insisted yesterday that regular contacts with Tehran "will continue." Everybody notes that an administration meeting about the issue was canceled.
The Post and LAT front word that two U.S. soldiers were killed and nine injured yesterday in an attack near Fallujah, Iraq, that turned into a half-hour firefight. Fallujah has particularly high anti-U.S. sentiments since GIs killed about 18 protesters there last month. There's also been very little rebuilding there. "They haven't done anything for us," one resident told the Post. "No security, no salaries, no services."
Yesterday's attack comes after two deadly incidents Monday, and the LAT points out that despite U.S. officials' assertions, the relatively intense Fallujah attack "had the earmarks of a coordinated military operation." Meanwhile, a piece inside the Post notices that an Iraqi woman who recently was shot and killed after she tried to toss grenades at GIs has become a something of a hero in her town. "I will be martyred for the sake of Islam," she wrote in a note before she attacked.
The Post fronts the Canadian government's introduction of legislation that would reduce the penalties for possession of small amounts of pot. Under the bill, possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana would become a "ticketing offense" and punishable by fines of up to $290. The Post says the Bush administration is particularly bummed about the potential law, arguing that it will increase the enormous amount of Canadian dope that already makes its way south —currently $4 billion to $7 billion worth annually.
The WP headlines, "CANADA MAY ALLOW SMALL AMOUNTS OF MARIJUANA."That seems doobieous; after all Canada is just lowering the pot penalties, not erasing them. The NYT, which stuffs the story, does a better job in that respect, but its headline is informationally challenged, "CANADA INTRODUCES MEASURE ADJUSTING PENALTIES FOR MARIJUANA."
Everybody mentions that President Bush, in a much-publicized ceremony, signed into law a $15 billion anti-AIDS program. USAT teases the bill on Page One and says that in signing it, Bush was "delivering on a State of the Union pledge." Not exactly. As the WP details inside, President Bush's budget only calls for $1.7 billion of the $3 billion originally envisioned for this year. The White House has also recommended cuts in funding for domestic AIDS programs (though in fairness, the SOTU promise centered on countering AIDS abroad). Oh, and according to the Post, the bill "includes a provision that will allow religious groups to reject any AIDS-fighting strategy to which they object."