Today's Papers


Roger Tamraz leads at the Washington Post–and grabs plenty of front-page space elsewhere. The New York Times leads with the guilty pleas entered by three Teamsters officials in connection with a scheme to launder union-election contributions. The shake-up announced at China’s Communist Party congress leads at the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today goes with the record surpluses accumulating in state coffers.

Tamraz, a naturalized American citizen from Lebanon, told the Thompson hearings that the only reason he gave $300,000 to the DNC was so he could gain high-level government support for a pet project. This sort of statement of the obvious is known in Washington as “candor,” and especially because Tamraz showed up without a lawyer and smiled and laughed throughout the day, his brand of it was enthusiastically received by the powers that be, including the newspapers. The WP says he “entertained” the committee, and the NYT notes his quickness with one-liners. The picture running with the NYT story makes it look as if Tamraz was feeling the tremendous pressure of a prosecutorial grilling. But in fact, the only sort of question he had to answer was: Did you get your money’s worth? (“Next time, I’ll give $600,000,” was his reply.) The WP picture of the witness table is more in line with reality: Just a bunch of rich guys in suits having fun. (To get SLATE’s take on the Thompson hearings, read Jacob Weisberg’s daily dispatches.)

The NYT details how three top campaign aides to Teamsters President Ron Carey pleaded guilty yesterday to funneling illegal contributions to Carey’s re-election drive. The three stated that their scheme–disguising improper contributions to Carey from the AFL-CIO and other unions–involved officials of the DNC and of the president’s re-election campaign.

USAT brings news that state treasuries are billions of dollars in the black, primarily because the economy’s surge has boosted tax revenues and shrunk welfare rolls. Just about the only exception is Hawaii, which is experiencing a nasty recession because (Japanese) tourism is down. The paper reports that in general, the states are reacting conservatively, plowing most of the found money into tax cuts, schools, and contingency funds.

The LAT says that President Jiang Zemin firmly established himself as China’s top leader with the appointments of allies and nonappointments of rivals announced Thursday. This story also runs above the fold at the WP and the NYT’s national edition.

In the business and finance news box of the Wall Street Journal, there’s word (credited to yesterday’s Detroit News) that in a move to retain white-collar employees, Chrysler is offering 15,000 nonunion salaried workers a grant of $4,000 for family-related expenses like elder care and children’s college tuition.

The LAT front page gives an early picture of a stratagem sure to become popular among advocates of affirmative action in college admissions. The Latino Eligibility Task Force, composed of University of California faculty and administrators from all nine of its campuses, warns that continued use of the SAT test as an admissions criterion could mean a drop of up to 70 percent in the number of Latino students at UCLA and Berkeley, the system’s two most selective campuses. But the committee has a solution: eliminate the SAT as a requirement, which would “more than double the number of Latinos eligible for admissions.” Surprisingly, given that Prop. 209 architect Ward Connerly is on the U.C. Board of Regents, the paper reports that the regents are “receptive” to the idea.

Al Kamen’s WP column states that, when Sen. John Ashcroft took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to argue for defunding the NEA, he quoted approvingly from the work of NEA critic and frequent LAT contributor Jan Breslauer. Kamen points out that Ashcroft didn’t mention Breslauer also recently wrote a piece for Playboy called “Stacked Like Me” describing her recent decision to perk up her boring life by getting 34D breast implants. Kamen’s piece appears under the subhead “Ashcroft Takes on Two Endowments.”

A question for Post copy editors: Shouldn’t that be “Three”?