Today's Papers

Oregon Crazy

A fifteen-year-old’s shooting spree at his Oregon high school leads USA Today. A record deal–the planned purchase of PolyGram by Seagram Co.–leads at the Los Angeles Times. The New York Times national edition lead is the new president of Indonesia’s first day in office. Under a banner headline, the Washington Post goes with long-time Mayor Marion Barry’s decision not to run for re-election, but its top national story is Oregon.

The details of the Oregon shootings are, in the words of the WP, “disturbingly familiar”: a kid well-known for trouble acts out prior threats via his access to tremendous firepower. According to the dailies, the boy, Kipland Kinkel, shot up the school cafeteria with a rifle and two pistols, killing one student and wounding twenty-six. The carnage was stopped when a critically wounded student tackled Kinkel. USAT, WP and LAT report that two bodies, believed to be that of Kinkel’s parents, were later found in his house. The NYT reached the boy’s grandmother, who said that he “murdered his mother and father.”

Afterwards, some parents charged that the school had ample warning that Kinkel posed a danger to others. The day before yesterday, he had been suspended from school and arrested for bringing a gun to school, and he was released to his parents. And he had, the papers say, frequently written and talked about killing in school assignments. USAT reports that he had been voted by classmates “most likely to start World War III.”

Both the NYT and WP quote an expert’s observation that the recent trend of school shootings has accelerated from single specific victims to indiscriminate multiple homicides.

The LAT is the only paper putting merger over murder today. Its account of Seagram/Polygram seems a bit breathless. The deal, says the paper’s lead paragraph, involves the likes of Hanson, LL Cool J, Van Morrison, and Luciano Pavarotti. And it would “radically alter the nature of the architecture of the business by shrinking the number of global competitors from”–can you stand it?–“six to five.”

Deep inside the WP is a report that casts an interesting light on the recent U.N. inspection wrangle with Iraq. The paper’s Nora Boustany states that contrary to the general media coverage, back in February when inspectors were barred from one of Saddam Hussein’s presidential palaces, they weren’t looking for actual weapons or other hardware–they were looking for documents about such things. Which would explain how the Iraqis were able to render the sites pristine in the relatively short time before the inspectors finally gained access.

USAT achieves a Post-Monica rarity: a half-hour of face-time with President Clinton. The president tells the paper he “absolutely” will travel as planned to China despite GOP criticisms that U.S. policy has been unduly influenced by Chinese campaign contributions. Clinton describes his administration’s decision to allow high technology to be exported to China as “routine.” He also tells USAT that during his trip, he will raise the issue of illegal campaign contributions with China’s leaders. (That’s what we’re afraid of.)

The Wall Street Journal’s “Washington Wire” reports that some twenty lawmakers who voted this week to restrict satellite exports to China had previously urged Clinton to export satellites there.

Ever wonder if congressional staffers help their bosses write their newspaper submissions? Consider the following from the WP. “It is vital that as the global economy goes into high gear, there is a globally consistent standard for intellectual property. [Copyright] Term extension represents one aspect of the harmonization of the intellectual property regimes.” Signed, Rep. Mary Bono.