Today's Papers

Jung for the First Time

The Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times lead with the victory of long-time dissident Kim Dae Jung in the South Korean presidential election. USA Today leads with President Clinton’s official announcement of the long-rumored decision to keep U.S. troops in Bosnia indefinitely.

The WP calls the Korean vote the most remarkable in the country’s history, pointing out that upon his inauguration, Kim, 73, will take over a government that kidnapped and jailed him and repeatedly tried to kill him, once by planning to toss him off a ship at sea. The LAT observes that in Korea, Kim has often been compared to Andrei Sakharov, Lech Walesa, and Nelson Mandela. The Post notes that the victory celebrations were particularly joyous in the city of Kwangju, where in 1980, the government suppressed pro-democracy demonstrations, killing hundreds, and blamed the episode on Kim, who was sentenced to death (he was eventually given a medical release to the U.S.). And now, points out the NYT, Kim will have the power to pardon the imprisoned Korean ex-president convicted of ordering that massacre.

The NYT stresses more than the other dailies that a big factor in the election outcome was an electorate enraged by the country’s financial crisis and furious at economic mismanagement by the ruling party. The Times adds to the picture of Kim as the ultimate outcast by relating how, as recently as the mid-80s, the U.S. Embassy viewed him as too radical to invite to the annual 4th of July party.

The papers all note that upon his victory, Kim pledged to implement the IMF-crafted economic bailout that was already agreed to by the current government.

The Clinton Bosnia announcement is also front-page news at the NYT, the WP, and the LAT. The coverage emphasizes President Clinton’s frank admission that he was wrong to have set a definite timetable for getting troops out. Clinton stated that the military mission had enforced a fragile peace but that it was still fragile and so, in the administration’s exit thinking, deadlines are out and “benchmarks” gauging Bosnia’s progress are in. The NYT notes that Clinton’s off-the-cuff examples of benchmarks did not include the return of refugees or the arrest of those indicted as war criminals.

The LAT front reports that in 1995, a Clinton national security staffer named Sheila Heslin asked the CIA to provide intelligence on several U.S. citizens despite a presidential order banning the agency from doing so. The paper bases its story on CIA documents.

The Wall Street Journal’s lead feature focuses on a group of single mothers in a Maryland housing project who have been thrust by welfare reform into the workplace for the very first time. The piece shows how the women have become rather harsh in their attitudes towards welfare mothers. “It makes me mad,” says one, “Taking money out of my check and giving it to those ho’s.” The story also shows that even a steady job doesn’t automatically translate into financial security: One woman in the story has only been able to save $100 after six months of employment, but she did spring for some Donna Karan, a four-foot TV/VCR tower, wall-to-wall carpet, and a stocked fish tank.

According to USAT’s “Snapshot,” 13.7 percent of all Americans ended 1996 with a total household income below the federal poverty level of $16,036 for a family of four.

In a rarity for a front-section story, not to mention for the front page, The NYT comes right out and says that Barbara Chase-Riboud, the woman who accused “Steven Spielberg’s studio,” Dreamworks, (hey, what do Katzenberg and Geffen have to do to get their names in the paper?) of stealing from her work in making the movie “Amistad,” is herself a plagiarist. The Times says that a novel she wrote in 1986 contains entire passages from a scholarly book that preceded it by 50 years.

Remember “Lucille,” B.B. King’s guitar? Well, guess who has it now? According to the NYT, the Pope. King handed it over during a papal audience.

No Freeh pizza. The WSJ reports that the most common fake name given to pizza deliverers in Washington, D.C. is…Janet Reno.