Today's Papers

Thanks–a Lott

USAT and the LAT lead with a Supreme Court decision placing new restrictions on credit union membership. The WP leads with Kenneth Starr’s latest animadversions. And the NYT goes with Sen. Trent Lott’s call for the rejection of the Kofi Annan-brokered accord with Iraq.

The USAT, LAT and WSJ pieces (as well as a piece on the front of the NYT national edition) explain that the credit union decision decides a simmering conflict between those organizations and banks in favor of the latter. Banks had been claiming that credit unions, which enjoy tax-exempt status based on their origins as volunteer-run cooperatives, have, by wildly expanding their memberships beyond simple company or vocational affiliation (71 million members, more than double the 1991 total), been able to unfairly compete for customers. Yesterday, by a 5-4 vote, the Court agreed, even though consumer advocates complain that this portends bad news for customers, who’ve benefited from the downward fee pressures credit unions provide.

The LAT credit union effort attributes a quotation to “the American Bankers Assn. and four other banking groups.” Not to a spokesman for those organizations, but to the groups themselves. “Today’s Papers” guesses this is a telltale sign of writing the reaction part of the story from a press release. It would be far better to interview an actual person instead, if only because you can’t ask a press release follow-up questions.

The WP lead reports that yesterday, Starr lashed out at the “avalanche of lies” spread about his staff and defended his decision to subpoena Clinton loyalists to determine if they have been spreading derogatory information about his office. Meanwhile, says the Post, his grand jury investigation focused on Monica Lewinsky’s federal job history, with a potential wrangle over the possible invoking of executive privilege by certain senior Clinton aides still on hold. The paper points out that the privilege issue presents Starr with a Hobson’s choice: fight the notion and divert significant resources to a long court battle, or don’t fight it and forgo some key witnesses.

The WP lead runs a new charge made by Monica Lewinsky’s lawyer William Ginsburg: Linda Tripp may have “manipulated tape-recorded conversations” she had with his client. The paper doesn’t say whether the lawyer meant Tripp tricked ML into misstatements or physically edited the tape to be misleading. It should have.

The Post does report that Lewinsky was offered $10,000 seed money for a legal defense fund by a benefactor whose foundation promotes the view that women need to “use their sexuality” in the workplace to attract mentors.

According to the NYT, it looks as if Trent Lott was able to take enough of a break from sabotaging campaign reform to try sabotaging the new Iraq deal. Lott, reports the Times, urged President Clinton to reject it, accusing the administration of abdicating its foreign policy to Kofi Annan. The Times pointedly observes that “Lott did not say in his speech Wednesday what he would have done if he were in the president’s position..”

The NYT front carries a chilling “special report” about the U.N. weapons inspectors’ hunt for Iraq’s germ warfare arsenal. The piece flatly states that Iraq has run an elaborate germ weapons program and that it “had made enough deadly microbes to kill all the people on earth several times over.” There’s also the revelation of a crash military program intended to create the ability for Iraq to wipe out Israel’s population with anthrax microbes.

The WP and LAT fronts describe how, within the past eleven days, computer hackers have broken into unclassified Pentagon networks to examine and possibly alter payroll and personnel data.

Sure, the school bus is crawling with safety violations and doesn’t contain seat belts and will be taking the kids to classrooms run by teachers who never actually had to take the subjects they’re teaching, but at least according to the WSJ “Business Bulletin,” in a few years there will be satellite-based technology available to families that will let them know to the second exactly when the bus is arriving.