Today's Papers

Money Talks

The NATO raid in Bosnia leads at the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. New revelations about Democrat fundraising lead at the Washington Post. The upholding by a federal court of “Megan’s Law” leads at USA Today.

The Bosnia action, an assault on the Banja Luka police HQ and several other police facilities, all thought to be centers of support for war criminal suspect Radovan Karadzic against Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic, met with no resistance and resulted in the confiscation of truckloads of weapons from Karadzic supporters. But according to the NYT, it nonetheless represents a “far more muscular, interventionist role” for NATO, which, in the words of the LAT, amounts to “clearly taking sides in an explosive crisis.”

The WP’s lead reveals that last January, as part of an attempt to woo a potential head of the Democratic National Committee, President Clinton had agreed to decree that the DNC would no longer accept “soft money.” But says the Post, when the candidate declined, citing family obligations, the idea went away.

The Post’s column one story, written by Bob Woodward and Ann Devroy, adds a few more warts to the presidential portrait with its revelation that last August, Clinton had a 45-minute one-on-one meeting with the CEO of Federal Express, Frederick Smith, to discuss a Japanese trade barrier that was costing Smith’s company millions. And, the paper reports, less than three weeks after that tete-a-tete, Federal Express gave $100,000 to the DNC, part of a total of $275,000 in soft money that the company ponied up to the Democrats during the last election cycle. This all happened after Clinton was advised in a DNC memo to call Smith personally to solicit a contribution. One memo, reports the Post, advised the president to “ask him for $150,000.”

Smith tells the WP that the money contributed “had nothing to do with the meeting he had with Clinton.” And yet just a few sentences later, the article states, “Smith said that it would be unwise for a company with $13 billion in annual revenue not to make the requested contributions. ‘Sure, you’re darn right, you better be responsive,’ Smith said. ‘Whether you use the language of the street and call it a shakedown or whether you just call it our system, however you put it, it’s a messy system.’”

A common press syndrome is immense interest in the politics of a bill, but almost no interest in the workings of the law it becomes. So it’s refreshing to see articles like the Wall Street Journal lead, which looks at what happened when one company tried to hire welfare recipients to gain tax credits under a bill passed last year as part of welfare reform. Great in theory, says the Journal, but in practice, it’s very hard for a business to scare up meaningful numbers of eligible employees and even harder to retain them for the 400 hours the law requires for the awarding of the credit.

I must not be cosmonaut material, because I’m drifting in deep space after just narrowly surviving a collision, a total power failure and a heart problem, I’m not thinking, okay, let’s at least do the milk commercial. But according to the Post, that’s exactly what former Mir commander Vasily Tsibliev did. A spokeswoman for the Israeli long-life milk product that Tsibliev drank on camera inside the rapidly disintegrating craft says a $450,000 fee was paid to the Russian space agency. No word on whether Tsibliev saw any of it.