Today's Papers

How Now Dow?

USA Today

and the Washington Post lead with the Dow plunge on jitters about the spread of the Asian economic crisis. The New York Times and Los Angeles Times go with NATO’s show-of-force flights over Yugoslavia.

According to USAT and the Post, what touched off the latest Dow-nturn was the yen’s sinking to an eight-year low against the dollar. This is bad, explain the papers, because it could prolong the Asian slowdown by making exports from neighboring countries and the U.S. more expensive. But like all stock market moves, this one is overdetermined: USAT also cites a continued string of bad quarterly earnings reports. The WP’s story emphasizes growing governmental concern, quoting Tony Blair’s assessment that the West’s economies “will not emerge from this turmoil without being affected by it,” and a senior U.S. official’s revelation that communications between Washington and Tokyo “are getting testier, and there is pessimism here about whether Japan has any conception about how to stop digging the hole it’s in.” The Post explains that the U.S. thinks Japan’s banking system needs a radical revamp to get out from under hundreds of billions of bad loans, but fears that the Japanese are reluctant to allow the widespread bank failures and loan foreclosures this would entail. The paper adds that the Chinese press is making similar criticisms of Japan.

The NYT and LAT report that more than 80 NATO warplanes of varying mission types were involved in a mission that put 68 fighters over Albania for several hours. The “primary target” of the exercise, says the Times was Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian president of Yugoslavia, meaning that the intent was to make it clear to him that he has to stop the attacks on Albanians in Kosovo province and start peace talks with them. The paper reports that Milosevic is meeting with Boris Yeltsin today and that yesterday, in a preparatory 40 minute phone call with Bill Clinton, Yeltsin said he would express in the meeting a strong preference for a diplomatic resolution. While this makes it sound as if Yeltsin is on board with NATO, a separate NYT story inside reports that in a Moscow meeting, Russia’s defense minister bluntly dressed down the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs over the timing of the air exercises. The Wall Street Journal reports that members of Congress open to a vigorous NATO/US military response to Kosovo include Republican Senators Trent Lott, John McCain and Chuck Hagel.

The Times reports that to maximize the show of force to the Serbians, Albanian officials had asked the NATO aircraft to come in low, and that some came in as low as 2,000 feet. The paper doesn’t point out that this is getting towards the flight profile involved in that Marine flight that hit the ski lift, suggesting that such low flying is not without its applications in this theater of operations and not necessarily a sign of joyriding.

While the other papers’ reports of the day’s events in and around Albania emphasize the details of the air activity, the LAT lead instead focuses on the reactions of the Yugoslavians, who it depicts as “undeterred.” The paper points out in its top paragraphs that state-owned Yugoslavian television called the flights “an international scandal,” and that Milosevic’s forces nevertheless continued their attacks on villages in the Kosovo area, driving more refugees into Albania. The other papers also tell of the attacks and the refugees, but not nearly so high in their dispatches. The WP has a top-of-the-front photo of a long line of the refugees, many of them children, following a soldier, the whole scene looking like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Sunbeam’s decision to fire CEO “Chainsaw Al” Dunlop over the weekend gets a lot of front-page coverage, inordinate really, given the relative size of the company. But the LAT front-page piece offers an explanation: the move signifies the “demise of the slash-and-burn turnarounds of the 90s.” USAT has the best headline: “Chainsaw Al Gets Cut.”

The NYT and WP both run stories inside reporting that in an interview with a conservative talk show host, Trent Lott called homosexuality a sin, like alcoholism, kleptomania and sex addiction.

In a NYT op-ed, literary scholar A.N. Wilson points out the shakiness of the Southern Baptists’ biblical justification for their recently announced doctrine that wives should “graciously submit” to their husbands. Does this mean, Wilson wonders, thinking of other Bible passages, that the Southern Baptists condone slavery, or pool all their property, or abjure money lending or investment? And does the Southern Baptist Convention embrace pacifism?

The WP’s “Reliable Source” column passes along Al Gore’s reaction to yesterday’s NBA fab final: “”I tell you, that Michael Jackson is unbelievable, isn’t he? “

In its recent obituary of a legendary cold war spy, the NYT suggested that he was the conduit via which the U.S. arranged for Vietnamese generals to assassinate South Vietnam’s president Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963. Today, a letter writer who once interviewed the spy claims that to the dead man’s knowledge, U.S. authorities never approved Diem’s assassination. The author of this anti-conspiratorial missive? Oliver Stone.