Today's Papers

Jiang and the Restless

After a string of party-line days, news diversity breaks out. The Washington Post leads with Jiang Zemin’s testy meeting with some members of Congress. The New York Times leads with U.S. emergency aid to Indonesia designed to help bring financial stability back to Asia. The Los Angeles Times goes with a California Supreme Court decision that children may sue their mothers’ employers for injuries they received in the womb from unsafe working conditions experienced by their moms. And the USA Today lead is the 2nd degree murder conviction returned against British au pair Louise Woodward in the death of an eight-month-old boy in her care. The paper reports that when the verdict was returned, Woodward, 19, wept hysterically and shouted, “I didn’t do anything!”

According to the WP, Jiang’s closed-door congressional meeting had the same rather tempestuous atmosphere as did his press conference with Bill Clinton earlier in the week. Jiang gave no quarter as he was asked by members about forced abortions, harvesting of human organs from executed prisoners, religious repression, foreign weapons sales, jamming U.S. broadcasts and his country’s takeover of Tibet. Several members presented Jiang with lists of political and religious prisoners to be released. Sources tell the Post that there was no discussion about allegations of Chinese illegal campaign contributions during the last election cycle.

Jiang invited Newt Gingrich to Tibet and the WP says he replied by saying he would hope Jiang would greet him there alongside the Dalai Lama. The LAT front-page account of all this depicts Gingrich in a somewhat more ironic light, quoting the Speaker as saying that in his discussions with Jiang, he saw “no defense of dictatorship” of the sort the Soviets used to make. Yet after the meeting, reports the Post, Jiang gave a defiant speech in which he made no concessions about human rights in his country or Tibet.

Today’s NYT Indonesian aid package lead fits the mold that so often applies when the Times decides to lead with an international finance story–not only is the story not anybody else’s lead, but it doesn’t even make any other major’s front page.

The top of the LAT front page features a large photo-and-graphic box addressing the stepped-up rate of deportations by the INS of illegal immigrants–last year about 111,000, an increase of about 60 percent over the year before. Of those removed, says the paper, 45% had criminal records.

The Wall Street Journal “Washington Wire” reports that today, in the Halloween spirit, Republican leaders will unveil a “horror stories of the IRS” web site.

A piece inside the WP about the use of songs by law enforcement authorities in hostage situations notes that the music used at Waco against David Koresh “was selected ad hoc from the personal cassettes of FBI agents.” There wasn’t, according to the Post, exactly deep reasoning behind the selections. “Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Were Made for Walking,’ for instance, was intended to get Koresh and others to walk out of the compound.”

Back to that California Supreme Court decision about fetal injuries: if the Court is consistent, shouldn’t we also expect to see decisions allowing kids to sue their moms for prenatal smoking, drinking, and drugging?