The New York Timesand Los Angeles Timeslead with news that China shot down one of its satellites with a ground-based missile last week. The move demonstrated China's ability to target objects in space and sparked concern and condemnation from several countries that have satellite programs. USA Todayleads with word from the Justice Department that it is working on a plan to add the DNA from federal detainees to an FBI database. The plan could target "tens of thousands of immigration violators, captives in the war on terrorism and others accused but not convicted of federal offenses," says the paper.
The Washington Postleads, and most other papers front, the Senate passing broad ethics legislation that seeks to diminish the influence lobbyists have on Capitol Hill. The move, which supporters claim is the most important ethics reform since Watergate, would forbid lobbyists from buying gifts and meals, as well as pay for trips (naturally, with some exceptions). The Wall Street Journal tops its worldwide newsbox with testimony before the House budget panel that shows the Pentagon thinks the 2007 cost for the Iraq war will be approximately $8.4 billion a month.
For its test, China targeted an aging weather satellite that was a little more than 500 miles above Earth, which means the country could now theoretically target U.S. spy satellites. Arms-control experts are concerned that China's test could spark a new space-arms race. "This is the first real escalation in the weaponization of space that we've seen in 20 years," said one expert. Only the United States and the Soviet Union had previously conducted tests of anti-satellite weapons, but the last one took place in the mid '80s.
One of the reasons the tests ended was due to the debris they created, which could damage other satellites or even spacecraft. China's test created a large "debris cloud" of as many as 300,000 pieces, which some experts say could take around 25 years to clear. The NYT notes that some experts say China's move could be an attempt to pressure the United States to agree on a treaty to ban space weapons. The United States has resisted calls from China and Russia to ban these weapons, claiming it needs to have the freedom to operate in space. Everyone credits Aviation Week and Space Technology for breaking the story.
A Justice Department spokesman said details of the plan to collect DNA evidence will be released soon. While proponents of the plan contend that taking DNA from detainees could help solve crimes, others are concerned about privacy issues and say the meaning of "federal detainee" is too broad.
The ethics legislation would also mandate that lawmakers must attach their names to any earmarks, and they would have to pay charter rates on corporate jets. In addition, former lawmakers would have to wait two years after leaving office before they could lobby, and most spouses of senators would not be allowed to lobby (except if they were lobbying for at least a year before their husband or wife was elected).
The LAT goes high with those who aren't such big fans of the ethics bill. Some say ethics reform that doesn't tackle the issue of campaign contributions can't really be effective. But the truth is, even usually skeptical watchdog groups have, for the most part, praised the legislation.
The WP gives the most detail of the behind-the-scenes action, which could have some interesting repercussions. The ethics bill almost didn't go to vote yesterday because Republicans threatened to filibuster it if an amendment that would give the president a sort of line-item veto authority wasn't included. But Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia single-handedly blocked these efforts. In the end, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reached a compromise and said Republicans could add their desired provision to the minimum-wage bill next week if they have the votes.
Also on Capitol Hill, House members voted to repeal tax breaks and subsidies to oil companies that total approximately $14 billion. And with that, Democrats managed to complete their "100 hours" agenda, and they even had some time to spare. Now it seems like they'll use the extra time for a little intraparty scuffle. The Post notes some Democrats have criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to create a new Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. There are concerns among several legislators that Pelosi is attempting to decrease the influence of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which is chaired by Rep. John D. Dingell, who is from Michigan and frequently answers to the interests of auto manufacturers.
Meanwhile, everyone notes senators pressed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for details on the way the secret court will oversee the administration's eavesdropping program. They didn't get much. It is still unclear whether the court will approve eavesdropping for each case or if it got blanket approval for the whole program. The Post talks to four anonymous sources who say it appears to be a combination of the two that includes giving out individual warrants but also granting authority to eavesdrop on "more broadly defined groups of people."