The Washington Post leads with the threatened resignation of Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy. The New York Times leads with possible complications in the economic bailout plan for South Korea. USA Today leads with the nationwide push for tougher drunk driving laws. The Los Angeles Times leads with the fatal shooting of a local police officer. L.A. police have shot and killed a suspect in the case.
The WP lead says Israeli Foreign Minister Levy may quit over a budget dispute with Benjamin Netanyahu. The Foreign Minister’s beef: Netanyahu is keeping his fragile coalition together by doling out funds to conservative religious groups, rather than fixing the economy. The WP buries this crucial detail after the jump. The NYT front-page story announces it up top, in the second paragraph, and adds an item the WP misses: Levy has threatened to quit several times before, without doing so. If Levy does quit, both papers agree, the Netanyahu government could fall. The Wall Street Journal puts the story in its World-Wide newsbox.
The NYT lead fingers small banks as possible spoilers in the South Korea financial bailout. Most large international banks, following the IMF plan, have extended their loans to South Korea, letting it fix its economy before repaying debts. But several small foreign banks, with less to gain from a strong South Korea, will not extend loans, possibly jeopardizing the entire bailout. According to the NYT, the South Korean government issued a televised request to citizens for donations of gold jewelry. A WP front-page story on the crisis says South Korean accountants are seeking western-style training. The IMF plan will require stricter and more open accounting measures from the country, which traditionally cooks its books and keeps its ledgers hidden.
The USAT lead covers the coming fight for lower blood-alcohol limits in drunk driving cases. Several states this year will try to move from a .10% blood-alcohol limit to a .08% limit. (To reach a .08% blood-alcohol level, a 170-pound man needs four drinks in one hour on an empty stomach.)
The WSJ prints its predictions for the 1998 U.S. economy. The forecast: Continued expansion, but slower growth (2.4% for the first half of the year, 2.1% for the second) due to the Asian crisis and rising wages. The WSJ sees interest rates and unemployment rates remaining unchanged over the next year. The story says last year was the economy’s best since 1988.
A story in the WP points out that 1998 will see three Friday the 13ths in a single year (one in February, one in March, one in November). This trifecta occurs only once every eleven years. This writer once saw three Friday the 13ths in a single day, but will not rent these movies again for at least eleven years, if ever.