Today's Papers

Suharto Say Goodbye

The continuing Indonesia turmoil leads at USA Today and the New York Times and is the top non-local story at the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. Suharto’s surprise announcement that he would step down failed to ease political tensions, because he described a gradual and vague transition to a successor, and the thousands of student protesters want him out now. “If tomorrow Suharto does not step down, there will be a lot of trouble,” one protester tells USAT. The LAT says it now seems likely Suharto will go.

The papers say that the nation’s top opposition leader had called for a million demonstrators to take to the streets of Jakarta, and that the military, primarily via stern television messages, urged them not to. The WP’s veteran correspondent Keith Richburg says the scene at the Indonesian parliament, where students have taken over the grounds and buildings, is “eerily reminiscent of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.” Mirroring earlier reporting, the NYT says relations between the students and troops appear friendly.

A State Department spokesman is quoted in USAT and the WP saying that because of the upheaval, the IMF will probably delay delivery of its next bailout payment. The World Bank has already done this.

The WP confuses with a front-page piece asking whether comparing health insurers’ reimbursement handling of Viagra to their handling of birth control pills reveals a bias towards men. The second paragraph of the story says that more than half of Viagra prescriptions are being subsidized by health plans, and the sixth paragraph says that slightly more than half of all birth control pills are. Where’s the bias? Why do we need this story?

The NYT’s front reports on the first hard political consequences of the China money-for-missile-technology charges it aired last week: Newt Gingrich announced Tuesday he’ll seek to set up a special House panel to look into the allegations. The story also makes the USAT front, where Gingrich is quoted saying, “This a deeper question than anything that has arisen before in this administration.” Gingrich also tells the paper that President Clinton should not embark on a planned trip to China until he answers to Congress.

A shocking episode reported in a buried wire story in yesterday’s WP moves up to page two in today’s Post. Last Saturday while playing basketball near a hospital emergency room, a fifteen year-old boy was shot. Emergency room doctors and nurses were notified of the situation by a police officer, but citing hospital policy, they refused to leave the emergency room to come to his aid–thirty-five feet away. And refused to lend the cop a gurney. Ninety minutes later, the boy was dead. “I will be finishing my thirty-fourth year as an officer,” said the policeman, “and I have never seen anything like this.”

The editorials continue to weigh in on the lawsuits brought against Microsoft. The LATlead editorial, “Bill Gates is Wrong,” takes exception to Gates’ Coke/Pepsi analogy by saying, “Microsoft’s ambition to have Windows play an integral role in virtually every American lifestyle is more like Coke telling Americans that from now on it will be their beverage, main course and dessert.” (It seems that the law of beverage monopoly is wondrously complex–“Today’s Papers” recalls not being able to bring its own beer into Dodger Stadium and not being able to get a Coke at a Taco Bell.) In any case, warns the LAT, if Microsoft doesn’t compromise, it could find itself being broken up by the Justice Department into “Baby Bills.”

Remember that scene in “Sleeper” where it’s revealed that in the future everybody knows the only really healthy substances are red meat and cigarettes? Well, today’s WP runs a story headlined “Smoking May Protect Some High-Risk Women from Breast Cancer.” Seems that for two types of breast cancer that comprise about ten percent of all cases, what’s lucky is a…Lucky.

A front-page Wall Street Journal feature visits the mercenary mouths behind political campaign commercials. A small coterie of voice-over specialists, it turns out, earn over $500,000 a year narrating the commercials for hundreds of candidates. New phone technology allows them to do this from their own houses with assembly-line efficiency and relieves them of the onerous chore of actually meeting the candidates. One of these elite announcers, reports the Journal, once inadvertently worked for both sides of a campaign.