Today's Papers

Bank Shot

The New York Times national edition leads with the U.S.-driven delay of World Bank loans to India in response to its recent A-bomb tests. The Washington Post leads with the reduction of the American military presence in the Persian Gulf. The Los Angeles Times goes with the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling that police are generally shielded from liability for deaths or injuries caused by their high-speed pursuits. (The WP and NYT carry this story inside.) USA Today leads with the disparate treatments various tobacco products receive under the bill now pending in the Senate. For instance, it restricts the advertising and marketing of cigarettes, but not that of cigars or pipe tobacco. As a result, some health advocates are concerned, says the paper, that the bill won’t discourage overall tobacco use, but would only redirect it.

The NYT points out that the World Bank’s action to stop loans for an electrical power grid not only hits India–a country frequently affected by power failures and shortages–hard, but also serves as a signal to Pakistan about what sorts of sanctions it can expect if it responds to India with a nuclear test of its own. (The paper reports that the CIA told the White House on Tuesday that Pakistan could detonate an underground nuke at any time.) The threat of more sanctions has already sent India’s currency plunging to an all-time low against the dollar. Japan, says the Times, also sought the loan action.

Defense Secretary William Cohen announced that U.S. military forces in the Gulf region had begun drawing down to pre-Iraqi-crisis levels because of Baghdad’s assurances of cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors and to help improve military readiness and morale. Another factor: domestic political pressures inside such host countries as Bahrain.

The LAT reports that the Court decision even protects police who act recklessly in conducting pursuits. Because, say the Justices, the decision to pursue is often necessarily a split-second one, and violates no one’s constitutional rights. The story observes that about the same number of people–300–are killed every year in police chases as in police shootings, which of course makes “Today’s Papers” wonder why the law should treat reckless police driving differently than reckless police shooting. After all, the decision to shoot is usually just as split-second.

The WP’s front reports that as part of Ken Starr’s effort to methodically reconstruct the details of Monica Lewinsky’s life that she communicated to her erstwhile friend Linda Tripp, Lewinsky has been asked to provide fingerprints and a handwriting sample to investigators today. Is there an end in sight for Starr’s investigation? Well, the Post says he is looking to expand his office space.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in a phone campaign undertaken against California Prop. 226, the union dues “paycheck protection” measure, a Florida telemarketing firm claimed that the initiative would imperil cops by leading to the disclosure of their home addresses, with the result that they would become targets for gang members. The Journal observes that 226 only requires a name, signature, and employer’s identification for the approval of union dues for political purposes, not an address.

The USAT front brings word that based on phone surveillance, police in five European countries detained more than 80 Islamic militants suspected of planning to disrupt the World Cup soccer matches, scheduled to start next month in ten French cities. The story is carried inside elsewhere.

The NYT front and the WP inside run stories reporting that a government panel has hesitantly approved a vaccine against Lyme disease. The main sources of reluctance are that nobody knows how many shots are needed nor if the vaccine is safe for people with arthritis or undiagnosed Lyme disease. The stories are lacking in context. The WP says that the tick-spread flu-mimicking disease is “a serious threat” in parts of the country, and the NYT national edition mentions in the sixth paragraph that the latest government statistics show 16,000 cases annually. (The version of the story appearing in the later, metro edition of the paper omits this.) And the Times says severe cases can result in arthritis, and nervous system and heart damage. But the paper doesn’t say how many cases turn out like this. And neither story states the number of Lyme deaths, if any. We are merely told by the Times that the disease is “a cause of great concern each summer for parents and those who spend a lot of time outdoors.” In short, nothing in the stories alleviates a creeping suspicion that this disease, while of great concern to newspaper editors with summer places in Connecticut and children at Camp Heapumwampum, is hardly on a par with say, rat bites, lead-paint poisoning, and malnutrition suffered by inner-city kids.