The Note

The Arizona Republic also takes a front-page look at recent environmental bond measures that garnered voter approval. LINK "Arizona voters are making a link between land preservation and wildlife protection and their own quality of life and economic stability."

"That's how joyous environmental advocates interpret this week's approval of up to $687 million in bonds for land preservation in Scottsdale, Pima County and Flagstaff."

" … (T)wo Arizona bishops … said they will not deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights," reports the Arizona Republic. LINK The SBC employees strike is dominating local television and newspaper coverage in the St. Louis media market. LINK

The economy: The Wall Street Journal reports that "an unexpected quickening in the pace of price increases in the past two months is challenging the Federal Reserve's plan to raise short-term interest rates only slowly from today's 46-year lows."

The politics of gas prices: OPEC's president said "speculation, geopolitics and structural problems in the United States gasoline market were to blame for the run-up in pump prices" in the U.S., not his own organization's oil production quotas, reports the New York Times ' Timmons, who Notes these remarks "contradicted statements last week by Saudi Arabia, the cartel's leading producer, calling for increases in the quotas to ease price pressures." LINK "Eight state attorneys general Thursday called on the Bush administration to investigate whether oil companies are colluding to drive up gasoline prices," the Wall Street Journal 's Berthold reports. Note, again, the partisan affiliation of said AGs.

USA Today 's cover story by Chris Woodyard and Gary Stoller talks to lots of people at the pumps whose jobs put them on the road — and they are not so happy. LINK Lisa Sink and Nicole Sweeney of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel look at how higher gas prices are affecting public works budgets.

The St Paul Pioneer Press reports gas prices "jumped 20 cents or more a gallon Thursday at scores of stations throughout the Twin Cities, and another round of gas price hikes is expected before the upcoming Memorial Day weekend." LINK

The politics of national security: By a vote of 391 to 34, the House "approved a $447 billion military package that includes the extra $25 billion sought by the Bush administration to pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through early next year," reports the New York Times ' Carl Hulse. LINK "The House also gave its support to tearing down the Abu Ghraib prison, the scene of the abuse of Iraq detainees, and replacing it with a new facility. But lawmakers defeated a Democratic push for a special Congressional inquiry into the abuse as Democrats complained that the House was failing in oversight of the war."

Dan Morgan of the Washington Post reports that the House passed a $447.2 billion defense bill that will let the Pentagon add 39,000 new troops — 30,000 Army and 9,000 Marines — over the next four years. The administration's additional $25 billion request to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are included in that number, and $3.4 billion is specifically earmarked for armored vehicles and equipment for soldiers in the field. LINK The Los Angeles Times' Simon Notes the GOP-controlled House "defied a White House veto threat by failing to strip out a two-year delay in the Pentagon's next round of base closings." LINK

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