Today's Papers

No Mas Movement

USA Today

and the Washington Post lead with Janet Reno’s decision to continue her investigation of Bill Clinton’s 1996 campaign fund-raising, while the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times go with the Supreme Court’s okay of Oregon’s assisted suicide law.

Reno’s decision was predicted by the NYT yesterday. By contrast, USAT had said she was being advised to stop investigating. Today’s USAT says that her Justice task force had indeed been for stopping but ultimately concluded there were too many unresolved legal questions to do so. Clinton’s reaction to the news: “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

The Supreme Court turned down an appeal of a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit challenging Oregon’s law, making that state the first in the country where doctor-assisted suicide is legal. A wrinkle in all this, reports the NYT, is that the Oregon legislature had already decided to put the question to the voters again, so another by-mail referendum currently underway will probably be concluded before the original law can take effect.

The LAT, more than the NYT, emphasizes the Supreme Court’s general stance on assisted suicide laws–that they involve no constitutional issue and hence are the province of the individual states.

It looks like California is on its way to its third counter-reformation referendum result in a row. The LAT runs a front-page story concerning a poll about a likely ballot measure that would virtually eliminate bilingual public education in California. Those surveyed are wildly for it. This preference of landslide proportions doesn’t vary much no matter the race, income level or age group of the respondents. And here’s the big news: Latino voters polled favored the initiative by an even greater margin than whites. Though fascinating, the story does have a defect common to much press poll reporting–nowhere before the story’s “jump” to the inside (where, it is well known, a lot of readers never tread) does the LAT reveal how large the sample is.

Last spring, the Wall Street Journal reported that Chrysler had adopted a policy of requiring magazines where it advertised to give it advance notice and pre-publication content summaries of controversial articles. Today, the Journal, following up a Detroit News story from yesterday, reports that, after mounting criticism from magazine editors and publishers, the car company reversed itself. There are, however, notes the Journal, other companies who still insist on editorial peeks. Ameritech, for instance.

The WP gives front-page play to a study by Dartmouth medical researchers about the health-care treatment Americans receive at the end of their lives. Their findings: the amount of medical care received varies tremendously around the country and is apparently more a function of what’s available than of what’s needed. For instance, even though there is no evidence of major regional health or mortality differences, on the East Coast, people are more than two times as likely to die in a hospital as people are on the West Coast. The upshot: patient preference about final care still isn’t heeded much, and much government medical spending on the elderly is unnecessary.

There are fascinating details from last week’s American spy arrests on the Times front. After the Berlin Wall came down, the spies–a Pentagon lawyer, her husband, and a friend–who had sold secrets to East Germany for many years, felt at loose ends and were anxious to get back in the game. And in 1995, the woman wrote a very personal letter (the Times calls it an “ideological come-on”) to a Communist in the post-apartheid South African government indicating her availability to continue the old struggle. The FBI, who had been monitoring this woman based on spotty information from East German intelligence files, intercepted the letter and forged a reply inviting her to spy for South Africa. Eventually the woman met with a person she thought was a South African agent and for $1,000, gave him a Pentagon spending document and a CIA memorandum on the international arms market. He was an FBI agent. Similar traps were set for the two men. The story contains at least one suggestion that the couple had a deep need to get caught: they named their kids after the founders of the German Communist Party.