The New York Timesleads with news that New York will begin to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in another state or country. Gov. David Paterson directed state agencies earlier this month to begin revising policies and regulations so the change can take effect. Gay married couples "should be afforded the same recognition as any other legally performed union," the governor's legal counsel wrote in a memo sent to state agencies. USA Todayleads with Dow Chemical's announcement that it will increase prices by as much as 20 percent. This marked the latest in a series of price boosts by big companies and is leading to concern that higher energy and food prices will spark "a full-blown episode of inflation."
The Los Angeles Timesleads with a look at the Democratic Party's Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting that will take place on Saturday to try to determine whether the delegates from Michigan and Florida will be seated at the convention in August. Many have been lobbying the "obscure panel of 30 party insiders" who are used to working behind the scenes but lately have been receiving hundreds of e-mails from supporters of both Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The Wall Street Journal leads its world-wide newsbox with the Chinese government declaring that its response to the earthquake has been a success and saying that the country would be ready to carry out its duties as host of the Olympics. Almost 20,000 people are still officially missing from the earthquake that killed 68,000. The Washington Postleads with a look at how grass-roots organizations, as well as groups of private citizens, have been providing much-needed aid and relief work to help the survivors of the earthquake. The Communist government, which normally keeps close track of nongovernmental organizations and requires them to register, is standing aside and letting these private citizens help.
Paterson's initiative would make New York the first state to forbid weddings for gay men and lesbians while also recognizing those that are legally performed elsewhere. The NYT says the move is the "strongest signal yet" that Paterson intends to "push aggressively to legalize same-sex unions as governor." Recognizing these unions is as far as the state can go without the state Legislature, which holds the power to allow same-sex marriages in New York. The directive sent to state agencies cited a New York appeals court ruling that said the state must recognize all legal marriages from other jurisdictions unless the Legislature specifically decides to prohibit their recognition.
Dow Chemicals said it is being forced to carry out an across-the-board price hike due to increasing energy costs. The move is particularly significant because Dow Chemicals is one of the world's largest chemical manufacturers, and its products are used to make a wide variety of consumer goods. Dow's CEO issued a statement where he squarely put the blame on Washington for failing to deal with "rising energy costs and, as a result, the country now faces a true energy crisis, one that is causing serious harm."
The NYT off-leads, and the WP goes inside, with news that Clinton's hopes to get the delegates from Michigan and Florida seated at the convention were dealt a clear setback yesterday. Democratic National Committee lawyers wrote a memo saying that both states must lose at least half of their total delegate votes as a punishment for violating party rules and holding their primaries earlier than Feb. 5. That means the state delegations could be cut in half or each delegate would get only half a vote. It seems that Obama's campaign would be willing to accept this outcome, but Clinton and her supporters could decide to take the argument to the convention. As the LAT makes clear, "Clinton would not close the gap" even if she got everything she wanted from the meeting "and went on to perform spectacularly in the final primaries." At least some Clinton supporters in the rules committee seem to accept that this is the case. "At the end of the day, what we do on Saturday is not going to change the fact that Obama is going to win the nomination," said one.
Now that Obama has almost clinched the Democratic nomination, his policy proposals are getting closer scrutiny, and the WP fronts a look at how there simply isn't much there. In his few years in the Senate, Obama hasn't picked up a "signature domestic issue" or given any hints that he intends to take the Democratic Party in a new direction on policy issues. During the primaries it became clear that, unlike Republicans, Democrats pretty much agree on the big issues, a strategy that seems to be working since independents are also more likely to agree with their views. But Obama is sure to come under fire from McCain, who can appeal to independents by highlighting how he has disagreed with his own party in the past. Of course, Obama supporters say their candidate offers more than policy proposals and is advocating for a change in tone and leadership style. His campaign also says that after the primary contest is over, more staff will be dedicated to policy issues so that Obama can go into greater detail about where he wants to take the country.
The LAT and WP front news that more than 100 countries reached an agreement to create a new international convention banning the use of cluster bombs. The United States, along with Russia, China, Israel, India, and Pakistan, refused to support the international ban on the weapons that consists of many "bomblets" designed to explode on impact. In reality, many fail to explode and cause a lasting hazard for civilians. The most important turnaround came when British Prime Minister Gordon Brown ignored pressure from the United States, as well as members of his own military, and decided to back the ban. U.S. officials say cluster bombs are an important part of the country's arsenal and insist that technological advances will mean that future cluster bombs won't suffer from the same deficiencies.
The NYT's Jacques Steinberg writes about how the WP's Howard Kurtz interviewed Kimberly Dozier, a CBS journalist, on his weekend CNN show even though his wife, Sheri Annis, was a paid publicist for Dozier's memoir. Kurtz mentioned the connection at the end of the interview, but some say he shouldn't have even invited Dozier on his show. At first it seems like another story about what Steinberg calls the "complicated tangle in the complex world of Mr. Kurtz," which has been written about plenty. But readers that stay until the end of the story get a little rewarding nugget. As part of her media calls to drum up interest in the memoir, Annis contacted Steinberg "and identified herself, in part, as 'Howard Kurtz's wife.' "
The LAT reports that a small brewery in Weed, Calif., has come under the sights of the federal government because it decided to print the words Try Legal Weed on the bottle caps of Weed Ales. The U.S. Treasury Department says the marketing ploy can't be used because it alludes to using marijuana, and it's "false and misleading" because a buyer could be confused about what's inside the bottle. "They sell Bud. We sell Weed," the brewery's owner said. "What's the difference?"