The Washington Post and The New York Times both lead with Friday's release of Census figures revealing that the number of Americans living in poverty has risen for the second year in a row ( USA Today led with this yesterday). The Los Angeles Times leads with the moves by California Gov. Gray Davis and Republican gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger to focus their election strategies on one another. Rep. Darrell Issa, the man Californians can thank for financing the recall petition drive, endorsed Schwarzenegger on Friday.
The poverty rate rose to 12.1 percent in 2002, from 11.7 percent the year before. Everyone notes that this isn't good for President Bush's campaign to keep his job, especially since many of the states who saw the largest increases in poverty were closely contested electoral races in 2000.
Unlike in past years, yesterday's Census news was delivered on a Friday (with the potential of getting lost in the weekend's news cycle) and from the bureau's suburban headquarters in Maryland, rather than its more "centrally located" press club. Census officials denied that they had been pressured by the administration to play down the stats.
Everybody fronts the continuing twists in the Do Not Call saga. The Federal Trade Commission Friday appealed a federal judge's ruling that blocked the national list that would keep telemarketers from calling more than 50 million consumers who signed up. The judgments by two district judges—one who said the FTC exceeded its authority and the other who said the agency was violating free-speech rights of telemarketers—are expected to be overturned, according to FTC officials and congressional leaders. The two industry groups who had challenged the national registry in court are trying to decide if, in the interim, they should keep calling people on the list. As a WP sidebar points out, the FTC devised the list because it thought the First Amendment required it to separate commercial calls from charitable ones.
The NYT fronts a story on the impatience of Iraqis ready to govern themselves. "When you are in someone else's house, the person who built that house and maintained it is the person you should look to," an Iraqi security chief told the Times.
Meanwhile, the Post reports that U.S. administrator Paul Bremer has announced that the United States will hold off on some reconstruction projects until the Bush administration can secure more funding. While the money is on hold, the forces are not: an additional 10,000 U.S. reservists have been called up for duty in Iraq.
A new White House study from the Office of Management and Budget determined that the benefits of environmental regulations to public health are worth the costs to industries and consumers, says the Post on A-1. As unsurprising as this news may seem, the report actually overturns previous findings by the agency that there was no net gain in observing environmental rules.
With the Athens Olympics less than a year away, the Greeks have a lot to do on the security front, reports the WP. They're way behind in safety planning, said anonymous sources, and all kinds of fake weapons made it through security test runs.
Why isn't the United States adored by Muslims? A group of Indonesian Muslims, chosen by the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia, convened this week to tell a Washington panel why the U.S. gets no love. The daughter of a former Indonesian president was blunt: "There is no point in saying this is a problem of communication, blah blah blah ... the perception in the Muslim world is that the problem is the policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iraq." The NYT notes that the Indonesians were invited to discuss their views at an hour when most Muslims go to the mosque.
More California electoral news: Republican strategists are apparently trying to coax comedian Dennis Miller to run for statewide office. What other blossoming political careers can we look forward to? "You know all of the people on 'Friends' are going to be available," the director of University of Southern California's Norman Lear Center on entertainment quipped to the LAT.
On the NYT's Op-Ed page, David Brooks highlights the plight of conservative college students who find themselves discriminated against when it comes to landing jobs in academia. What's a rejected right-winger to do? As one as the professors Brooks interviews says, "I guess they'll have to go to Washington and run the country."