Today's Papers

The Anti-Abortion Racket

USA Today

and the Washington Post lead with a Chicago jury’s finding in a lawsuit brought by NOW that anti-abortion groups violated federal racketeering laws by conspiring to close abortion clinics through violence, and hence could be subject to damage claims. The national edition of the New York Times leads with a U.S.-British operation that’s currently relocating nuclear material from the nation of Georgia to England to keep it out of the hands of Iran, Chechen gangs or aspiring nuclear powers. The top national story at the Los Angeles Times is the Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case involving a Chicago ordinance targeting gang members for gathering on city streets. (The story also makes the front at USAT and is inside at the WP.)

The three anti-abortion organizers found in effect to be racketeers are active in Operation Rescue and/or the Pro-Life Action League. They were fined more than a quarter million dollars. Throughout the trial, says the WP, attorneys for the defendants claimed that any curbs on the anti-abortion demonstrators would violate their free speech rights. But the paper carries this rejoinder from an ACLU staffer: “The Constitution has never been found to protect extortion: someone saying they’ll break your windows every day or someone stationing a thug outside your business.” The story also makes the NYT front, but not the LAT’s.

The Times reports that the Georgian nuclear materials (experts disagree about whether it’s enough to make a nuclear bomb, says the paper) were originally supposed to be moved to Russia, but after the Russians failed to follow through, the U.S., concerned about the instability of the region, typified by the recent assassination attempt on the Georgian leader, Eduard Shevardnadse, made other plans while keeping Moscow informed.

The LAT front brings word that NOW, after staying on the sidelines while Paula Jones still had a case headed for trial, is currently considering providing support for her appeal of its recent dismissal. Hmmm…maybe they should be called LATER….

The front pages at USAT, the WP, and the NYT report that the Clinton administration announced Monday that it will not do an about-face on a nine-year-old policy against funding needle-exchange programs for drug users, even while acknowledging that such programs reduce the spread of AIDS without encouraging drug abuse. The NYT has the most detail on the inside politics of the decision, reporting not only that the administration drug czar, Gen. McCaffrey, is vehemently opposed to lifting the ban (USAT has this too), but also that the president’s policy advisors were afraid Republicans might push through legislation taking federal money away from organizations providing free needles. Health and Human Services secretary Donna Shalala said that the decision was made because research shows that the best programs are designed locally. So why not design them locally and fund them federally?

The Wall Street Journal reports that child labor is flourishing in the U.S., because when the economy is strong, employers can’t find enough adult cheap labor. It is estimated, says the paper, that there are more than 300,000 underage children working illegally in the U.S., more than half on commercial farms.

The Journal’s front-page features a rather moving story about a black high-school senior from Berkeley who has her heart set on the University of California, but whose good-but-not-great credentials mean a turn-down in the new-post-affirmative action regime there. The story shows a not-altogether well-thought out applications process: for example, she decided not to pursue Bryn Mawr merely because she learned some other black students at her school were also urged to apply by a black student at the college, and was interested in another much lesser school because she mistakenly thought it was free. And in the course of the story she learns that her mother voted for Prop. 209.

There’s been a lot of reason lately to question the overall economic wonderfulness of high national savings rates, but the “USA Snaphot” in USAT is pretty disturbing nevertheless: it says that 43 percent of working-aged American men, and 42 percent of working-aged American women have three months’ worth of income or less in savings.

Monday’s NYT contained William Safire’s twenty-fifth anniversary column, which confirms just how little WS learned from Watergate. Safire says that on his way out of the Nixon White House he thought about going in to say goodbye to the boss, but opted not to. And a good thing, he writes, because “at that moment a faithless aide was in there talking about a cancer on the Presidency” and “had I gone in, I would have been taped and perhaps later charged with being part of a cover-up.” In other words, Safire still sees John Dean as a traitor, so much so that he can’t bring himself to type his name in this story, and he still seems to think that a lot of innocent people got caught up in Watergate.