Today's Papers

Honey, They’ve Shrunk the Op-Ed Page!

The New York Times leads with the latest maneuverings in the Unabomber case. The Washington Post goes with a new push to train workers for computer-related jobs. The Los Angeles Times leads with the U.S. effort to turn around the Indonesian economy. And USA Today leads with the cold snap that has left the Northeast U.S. with hundreds of downed power lines.

The NYT reports that after the chaos in the Unabomb trial last week, Justice officials were considering a new offer from Theodore Kacszynski that would, if accepted, deliver him from the death penalty. The Times reports that by the end of the weekend, the new plea deal had been rejected. The story doesn’t reveal until its eleventh paragraph that the new round of negotiations was first reported by this week’s issue of Newsweek. Some journalists defend this suppression practice on the grounds that such sourcing issues are only of interest to other journalists, and not the general reader. Well, if this were a good argument, then newspapers shouldn’t use bylines either (general readers hardly ever notice them), or at least should put them in the eleventh paragraph.

The WP, which credits (sister publication) Newsweek in the fourth paragraph of its inside Unabomber story, treats the new round of negotiations as still open.

The WP lead reports that the Clinton administration’s computer training effort will include millions of dollars in grants to fund educational programs, an Internet job bank and a campaign to glamorize computer-related professions. The campaign’s goal, says the paper, is to remove the “nerd” stigma from the computer profession. (This is probably cheaper than actually removing the nerds.)

The LAT lead reports that a high-level Treasury team’s mission to Indonesia has the goal of meeting with President Suharto today to persuade him to carry out the economic reforms mandated by the IMF. The Indonesian rescue story is also carried on the WP front and inside at the NYT. The further weakening of the Indonesian currency is covered on the USAT front.

Don’t ask, don’t type. The WP breaks an astounding story inside about how the Navy is attempting to dimiss a sailor for homosexuality because his AOL profile, which doesn’t use his last name, states that he’s gay. Apparently, when Navy investigators called AOL to identify the profilee, AOL supplied the man’s name. (Which is Timothy McVeigh! No relation.)

The Wall Street Journal’s main “Politics and Policy” piece points to an emerging health care issue: given the increasing degree to which HMOs make medical decisions, should they continue to enjoy limited liability protection against malpractice? The Journal reports that Texas has already passed a law eliminating that protection, and that the bill’s architects are being consulted by politicians elsewhere.

Readers inclined to think of prostitution as a victimless crime are encouraged to read the first-rate piece about the international flesh market by Michael Specter on the front of yesterday’s NYT. Specter reveals that the latest trend is Slavic women, who are lured by false ads from the Ukraine in great numbers to such countries as Italy and Israel where whoremasters confiscate their passports and work them until they are arrested and deported. Complainers have been known to be thrown out of buildings or beheaded.

One linguistic quibble: the piece revives the old-fashioned term “white slave trade,” which brings with it an unnecessary implication that slavery is a special insult to white women. Far better to go with “sex slave trade.”

Today’s NYT opinion page is defaced by another of the paper’s patented unfunny celebrity tryout pieces–this time by miniature actor Rick Moranis. It’s something about a future New York City where gambling is king and apparently every Vegas reference gets big laughs. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall when these pieces get assigned? Who calls whom? And why?