Today's Papers

Clinton’s New Organ Policy

USA Today

leads with a Clinton administration proposal for new rules governing transplant organ availability. The New York Times goes with the decision by Switzerland’s three biggest banks to negotiate a global settlement with Holocaust victims by setting up a compensation fund. The plan does not include the Swiss government, whose central bank received the vast majority of wealth stolen by Nazis from Jews and other persecuted groups. The Los Angeles Times leads with depressing news about California’s second-tier state college system: an overwhelming number of its incoming students lack the basic math and English skills they should have acquired in high school. The Washington Post lead headline is a hardy perennial, relating to one of the worst public education systems in the country: “D.C. Schools Chief Resigns.”

The new transplant rules, explains the USAT lead (and front-page pieces in the WP, and the NYT), aim at providing organs to the sickest candidates first regardless of where they live, as opposed to the current ones, which were conceived when organs couldn’t be maintained outside the body for nearly as long as they can now, and hence emphasize getting them to the closest candidates. The private network that coordinates most organ distribution opposes the shift, because of a fear that this change will atrophy local transplant centers by diverting organs to a handful of large regional ones, and also deny organs to people who can’t travel. The papers all point out that under the status quo, more than 4,000 Americans die annually while waiting for needed organs.

The LAT front reports that just two days before the NCAA Final Four tournament game, a federal grand jury in Chicago has indicted two former Northwestern University players on charges of attempting to fix the outcome of games for the benefit of bettors during the 1994-1995 college season. This is a “stinging blow” to the sport, says the paper, because Northwestern has the reputation of placing academics above athletics. The NYT runs the indictments story inside, adding that a nationwide survey of Division I basketball and football players showed that 4 percent said they had gambled on a game they had played in.

The papers note that Bill Clinton appeared in South Africa yesterday alongside Nelson Mandela, but none could be bothered to put their stories about the appearance–simply unthinkable as recently as four or five years ago–on the front page. All the visit gets is front-page pictures with “reefer” captions pointing to stories inside. This judgment is especially hard to understand given yesterday’s GOP charges that some spots in Clinton’s traveling delegation were in effect sold to mega donors to Democratic Party coffers, making the trip a sort of flying Lincoln bedroom. By the way, over a non-descript editorial, the WP serves up the perfect headline for Clinton’s apology-strewn safari: “Guilt Trip.”

Front-page pieces in the NYT and USAT report that one of the Jonesboro shooting suspects is asking for his pastor and the other is crying for his mother. And an inside NYT piece addresses the question raised yesterday by TP about what the rules are nowadays governing identifying juveniles in the paper. Almost every editor questioned says the crucial fact pushing disclosure was that the names were already out there, in the local paper and on the Internet. This is another example, like the tabloidization of the mainstream press, where the dwarfs have ended up controlling the giants.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch is demanding that Microsoft allow its licensees and partners to speak with Senate investigators despite nondisclosure rules in MS contracts. Backing the demand is the committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy, up to now a MS supporter.

The national conversation on sexual harassment gets curiouser and curiouser. Now comes Abe Rosenthal, who responds to Gloria Steinem’s Times op-ed from earlier in the week with one of his own. Steinem had argued that if an uninvited sexual gesture by a man is met with noncompliance by a woman and then is not followed up by him, no sexual harassment has occurred. Rosenthal counters with a family secret. Many years ago, his older sister was walking in the park when a man exposed himself to her. She screamed and ran home, where she came down with a cold and then pneumonia and then a few days later, died. Rosenthal’s counter to Steinem is that mere uninvited sexual gestures can be…fatal. This is a sad, sad story, but legally and morally irrelevant. To think otherwise is to opt for making coming up behind someone and saying “Boo” a crime, because yes, it just might possibly scare him to death.