The Skinny: Gonzales, God And Basketball

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, March 13, 2007.

The Skinny is Joel Roberts' take on the top news of the day and the best of the Internet.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' acknowledgment that "mistakes were made" in how the Justice Department handled the firings of federal prosecutors last year doesn't appear to be cooling the latest scandal to hit the Bush White House.

The Los Angeles Times, New York Times and Washington Post all lead their Wednesday editions with stories on Gonzales' mea culpa, while the Wall Street Journal tops its "What's News" section with a similar item.

Gonzales insists he won't resign over the incident, but two Republicans close to the administration describe "a growing rift between the White House and the attorney general," according to The New York Times.

"However the flap is resolved," says the Wall Street Journal, "Gonzales faces at the very least a crowded agenda of appearances at congressional hearings on the matter."

Finding God Online

People use the Internet to read the news, file their taxes, meet their mates, and, increasingly, to pray.

The Internet is becoming "a hub of religious worship for millions of people around the world," the Washington Post reports in a front-page article.

"Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs and people of other faiths turn regularly to Web sites to pray, meditate and gather in 'virtual' houses of worship," which offer visitors everything from baptism and confession to conversion to Judaism.

For many "cyber-worshipers," the Post says, online religious life is replacing attendance at conventional churches, temples, mosques and synagogues. Others are newcomers to religion or returnees to their religious roots who are "discovering new ways to worship."

How strong is the presence of religion on the Internet? It's now nearly as popular as sex, according to Morten Hojsgaard, a Danish author who studies online religion. Hojsgaard said a Google search for "God" yielded 396 million hits, not far behind the 408 million for "sex."

March Madness At The Workplace

Like millions of Americans, you may have already filled in the brackets for your office pool for the NCAA basketball tournament, which opens this week. And you may be planning to check out how some of your teams are doing during work hours, when you should probably be focusing on your job.

Well, for more and more employers, that may be alright. In fact, your boss may even encourage you to take some time to enjoy the tournament. The Los Angeles Times reports that more companies are allowing workers time for sports and personal business in order to increase morale.

"Some employers are using the three-week NCAA tournament — one of the year's biggest workplace diversions — as an opportunity to boost morale," the Times says.

These companies say that work time "lost to Web surfing, e-mail and phone calls is a small price to pay for stronger office morale, less turnover and higher productivity."

Brooke Pfautz, who runs a mortgage banking firm in Maryland, plans to show the tournament games on big-screen TVs at the office and give a prize to the employee who picks the NCAA champ.

"I want to have a good, fun, upbeat atmosphere," says Pfautz. "You spend more of your waking hours at work, so you might as well enjoy it."

At the same time, in a separate article, the Times reports that a consulting firm has figured out that people watching the NCAA tournament at work – on CBS television and broadband – costs American employers $1.2 billion a year in productivity.

Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, said with a laugh Tuesday, "We here at CBS want to apologize for slowing down the American economy for two days every year, but that is the price you pay for March Madness."

A NOTE TO READERS: The Skinny is now available via e-mail for those of you umbilically attached to your blackberries and whatnot. Click here and follow the directions to register to receive it in your inbox each weekday morning.