Today's Papers

Bosnia on the Brain

U.S. policy in the Balkans leads both the New York Times and the Washington Post. The train wreck occurring early yesterday morning in the Arizona desert, which left scores injured, but killed no one, is the Los Angeles Times lead.

In light of a major Arizona derailment two years ago that proved to be vandalism, the LAT reports that the FBI is investigating, but that all indicators indicate the cause was instead a patch of flooded track.

The WP’s Bosnia story reports that former assistant secretary of state Richard C. Holbrooke, briefly back in government service for a four-day mission to the region, met with President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia yesterday and told him that the Clinton administration is prepared to arrest Bosnian Serb leader and wanted war criminal Radovan Karadzic “unless he takes himself out of circulation voluntarily.” The Post account emphasizes U.S. decisiveness–“I was exceedingly blunt about what could happen, and you can quote me on that,” it records Holbrooke as saying. But the NYT version seems to stress instead Serbian intransigence, reporting that “Holbrooke acknowledged he was ‘skeptical’ of a pledge made at the meeting that Karadzic would be stopped from wielding power behind the scenes in the Serb-held part of Bosnia” and saying the negotiations ended “without any major breakthrough.”

According to a second Bosnia story on the WP front page, the topic attracts far more administration attention and effort than the public realizes. Judging by the president’s speeches and his directions to his staff, says the Post, he “seems to have Bosnia on the brain.” The feeling is that the Dayton accord for resolving the conflict there is perhaps the major Clinton administration foreign policy achievement, one that is in great danger of evaporating.

The WP reports that China’s leadership seems to be endorsing economic and political reform for the first time since the Tiananmen Square crackdown. It says a recent front-page editorial in the Communist People’s Daily proclaimed that “the words ‘market economy’ have been writ large on the flag of socialism for the first time” and denounced party members favoring a slowdown in market reforms.

The NYT runs a front-page story pointing out a little-known consequence of the increasingly strict U.S. deportation policy for illegal immigrants convicted of felonies here. The program, intended to lower U.S. crime and decrease prison crowding, is accelerating the growth of U.S.-style gang crime throughout El Salvador and other Caribbean countries. So great is the disruption in El Salvador, says the Times, that death squads have re-emerged, this time targeting not political enemies, but deportee gang members. Some police there even think civil war could break out again, now over public safety issues.

Think the rapid growth of area codes is the inexorable result of the increasing need for more and more data lines? Well, a Times “Week in Review” piece points out that another factor is that under current arrangements, many numbers assigned to “saturated” area codes go unused. Fixing this could considerably extend the length of time between new area codes for a given location. Incidentally, one of the matters Holbrooke tended to this weekend besides crimes against humanity was the allocation of Bosnian area codes.

You remember, of course, when Dan Quayle was caught trying to get that sixth grader to spell ‘potato’ with an ‘e’ on the end. Well, an AP story in the WP reveals that the kid was stronger in spelling than in family values. He dropped out of school and now just five years later, he’s an unmarried father of a 14-month-old.