Today's Papers

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USA Today

leads with the news that a special civilian commission appointed by the DOD will release a report today reversing more than a decade of Pentagon gender-integration policies by concluding that men and women should go through basic training separately. The New York Times and Los Angeles Times lead with the DOD’s announcement that all U.S. military forces (active and reserve) will be inoculated against the deadly biological warfare agent anthrax. The lead national story at the Washington Post is President Clinton’s appointment of Bill Lann Lee to the Justice Department’s top civil rights job.

That DOD panel, says USAT, found that the military’s present co-ed training approach “is resulting in less discipline, less unit cohesion and more distraction.” The Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, can, says the paper, implement the panel’s recommendations without congressional approval. (The story is also on the NYT front.)

The NYT lead reports that the Pentagon anthrax inoculation program will consist of a series of six shots to start with and then annual boosters. It will, says the Times, begin next summer with the 100,000 troops in the Persian Gulf and in Korea. (Soldiers in the Gulf for Desert Storm received the initial dosage only.) Completion of the program will take six years and cost $130 million. The LAT also leads with this story, and it’s the second lead at USAT. The WP has the story too–on p. 23.

The anthrax stories all mention the official Pentagon explanation that such countries as Iraq, Iran, and Libya have stockpiled anthrax weapons and that the toxin is considered a rising terrorist threat. Yet none of them breathe a word about the idea of inoculating the civilian population as well.

Was Bill Clinton’s interim (that is, with Congress adjourned) appointment of Lee as acting DOJ civil rights boss a snub of the Senate, (which turned Lee down)? That’s a little hard to tell from the headlines. The WP runs “President Bypasses Congress, Appoints Lee On Acting Basis,” while the NYT goes with “Clinton, Softening Slap At Senate, Names ‘Acting’ Civil Rights Chief.” The LAT runs “Clinton Defies GOP, Names Lee Rights Chief.”

In reporting on a FBI sting that collared 16 computer brokers trafficking in stolen IBM parts across five states, the Wall Street Journal reports that the theft of computer hardware and software is hitting $8 billion annually.

The NYT reports that the December issue of “Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior” (bitchin’ swimsuit issue!) includes a study purporting to show that in the major gambling cities of the U.S.–Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and Reno–the suicide rates are up to four times higher than in comparably sized cities where gambling is not legal.

In case you’re distracted this week by deep worries about who the lead characters in “Love Story” were based on, relax, the NYT is on the case. Last week’s Time reported that after a long day on the road, Al Gore sidled up to some reporters traveling with him on his plane and in the course of the conversation allowed as to how in college, he was friends with novelist Erich Segal, and in fact he and Tipper were the models for the doomed lovers in Segal’s “Love Story.” Last Sunday’s NYT reported that Segal denies this (and denied it to Gore in a phone call). The author claims that he got some character traits for the male lead from Gore, but others from Gore’s roommate (and eventual movie star) Tommy Lee Jones, and nothing at all for the female lead from Tipper. Gore responded by saying he was misquoted, and a Gore spokesperson said the conversation was off the record anyway (which reporters who were there deny). Today, Frank Rich’s op-ed column tells us what this all means: that “disingenuousness, not stiffness, is [Gore’s] real character problem.” Stay tuned for more Times coverage–Maureen Dowd has reportedly also been investigating. Or maybe she’s pursuing something else, like the rumor that when Arthur C. Clarke was writing 2001 he used Gore as the model for HAL.