Today's Papers

These Guns Not For Hire

The New York Times leads with President Clinton’s decision to impose a ban on the import of 58 types of assault-type weapons. This is also the top national story at the Los Angeles Times. The Washington Post’s top national story is a federally funded study indicating that a drug previously used to prevent a recurrence of breast cancer could dramatically prevent its onset as well. USA Today leads with the Department of Transportation’s decision to crack down on airlines that use unfair methods to snuff out low-fare competitors.

The news about the breast cancer drug, tamoxifen, comes, says the WP, from the largest clinical experiment ever for testing a drug’s powers of cancer prevention. However, tamoxifen is also known, says the paper, to treble the risk for uterine cancer, and to increase one’s chance of developing blood clots. (The headline over the story at USAT, which runs it as its top-of-the-front-page “talker,” emphasizes the “big risk.”) It’s likely therefore, that the drug will only be recommended for women at high risk for breast cancer.

Clinton’s gun move, says the NYT and LAT, could keep more than one million high-powered guns out of the U.S. Assault weapons of this sort have been banned previously, by the Bush administration (1989) and by an earlier Clinton ban (1994), but foreign manufacturers responded by slightly modifying their weapons. But now, explain the papers, the ATF has ruled that these modifications are superficial and hence that the ban sticks. The NYT says that the timing of the announcement was driven by Clinton’s desire to dramatize government action in the wake of the Arkansas schoolyard shootings, even though none of the types of weapons used there are affected by the decision. The NRA assailed the ban, and promised to seek relief in Congress and the courts. The LAT says a White House official cites as one reason for the move the paper’s series last year about how weapons companies were modifying their guns to make them legal but not less lethal. The WP carries the story inside.

The Wall Street Journal runs a “Rule of Law” feature detailing the recent trend of the solidification of the rights of dogs, even vicious ones. Courts in several states, for instance, have invalidated breed-specific bans because they “deny pit bull lovers equal protection and due process.” Plus, Congress is considering “boneheaded” legislation that would force cities to allow pit bulls in public housing.

A piece in USAT’s “Money” section reports that federal officials are concerned about the proliferation of companies on the Internet posing as banks. In the past two years, the government has issued ten alerts about such ventures, which could appear to be just like the more than 1,600 legit, chartered banks with web sites.

Inside the WP there’s an AP story stating that according to the Department of Justice’s latest figures, alcohol is a factor in nearly 40 percent of all violent crimes. Victims of spousal abuse report that fully three-fourths of their attacks were alcohol-related.

In Sunday’s column, Maureen Dowd pointed out that when Ken Starr was pressed recently to justify the $30 million he’s spent so far javerting Bill Clinton, Starr replied that hey, he always flies coach on his investigatory jaunts to Little Rock. In the adjacent op-ed, Robert C. Reich reported that first- and business class seats now account for more than 22 percent of airlines’ domestic passenger revenue, up from just 9.5 percent in 1987. And according to Sunday’s LAT, a dozen California members of Congress routinely use government funds for upgrades to first class or for first-class tickets. The LAT dilutes the effect of this story by not mentioning any of the dirty dozen by name until after the jump inside to page 22. The reader has to wait until the tenth paragraph to learn that former Rep. Ronald Dellums routinely booked first class seats for his trips, at a cost to taxpayers of six times the basic government rate.

A related story “Today’s Papers” would love to see: How do the major newspapers handle this issue? Does, for instance, renowned high-liver Johnny Apple of the NYT fly first class when he’s on a story and, if so, does he pay the extra cost or does the Gray Lady go to the hip?