Today's Papers

The Things They Carried

USA Today

and the Los Angeles Times lead with Iraq’s refusal to let U.N. inspectors tour its presidential palaces. The New York Times leads with a story on Iranian spies infiltrating a U.S. operation in Bosnia. The Washington Post lead says the Asian financial crisis is further destabilizing Russia’s already fragile economy.

The USAT and LAT leads cover Iraq’s about-face on inspections: Having previously promised access to its palaces, Iraq now says access will be denied to U.N. inspection teams, and will be offered only to “experts and diplomats.” The White House insists that U.N. teams must search the palaces before sanctions on Iraq are lifted. (On Monday, USAT said there were 47 palaces; today, it says 78, offering President Clinton as its source.) While the story’s the lead at two papers, the WP front page has just a “reefer” to an AP article buried on page A35, and the NYT doesn’t cover the story at all. The Wall Street Journal puts it in their World-Wide news box.

The NYT lead exposes an Iranian spy ring in Bosnia: A group of spies has infiltrated the U.S. military training program for Bosnian Muslims and Croats. The U.S. hopes the program will help these Bosnians defend themselves against Serbs, so U.S. soldiers can go home. The program teaches the value of “secular, democratic government”; Iran wants to nullify these teachings, and gain a foothold in Europe through the Muslims. The White House is aware of the infiltration, but unconcerned.

A WSJ article echoes the conventional wisdom taking hold this week: The piece argues that the current fiscal turmoil in Asia signals the victory of the liberal American economy over the once-proud, authoritarian Asian system. The WP had a nearly identical piece on Tuesday, which the NYT parroted on Wednesday–now the Journal falls in line.

A front-page NYT article tracks the resurgence of Thalidomide. Originally prescribed for morning sickness, the drug was banned in the 1960s when it caused thousands of birth defects. Now, it has proved successful in treating AIDS and some other diseases. Problem: Doctors are terrified (and sometimes unwilling) to prescribe it for fertile women, who, if on the drug, are required to be also on two forms of birth control.

The USAT off-lead follows up on their cover story from earlier in the week; clearly, they think it’s something Americans care about deeply: Airlines, emboldened by new FAA guidelines, are cracking down on carry-on luggage. Overcrowded cabins are unsafe, so some carriers now limit passengers to one carry-on bag, instead of the traditional two.