Today's Papers

I Fear New York in June, How About You?

USA Today

, the New York Times, and the Washington Post all lead with President Clinton’s speech to students at Beijing University. The Los Angeles Times leads with a regional story on the debate over how to use California’s budget surplus: State Democrats want across-the-board increases in welfare aid; Republicans want to restrict the increases to the blind, aged, and disabled.

The papers’ early editions spin Clinton’s Beijing speech in vastly different ways. USAT, the LAT, and the NYT all judge the talk a human-rights statement, emphasizing Clinton’s line that “certain rights are universal” and are “the birthrights of people everywhere.” The USAT sub-headline: “2nd televised talk stresses human rights.” But the WP disagrees: “Aides said the president’s aim was to avoid a lecture about human rights–which he felt the Chinese would dismiss as hectoring by an outsider.” While the other papers all call this the centerpiece of Clinton’s China trip, the WP claims that Clinton’s team thought the televised press conference with Jiang Zemin had usurped this role, and so were downplaying the Beijing speech. Two more details set the WP story apart: 1) It alone reports that Clinton “scrapped” the speech his aides wrote and penned a new one himself, and 2) Its reporter alone openly admits he has only read an advance copy of the speech, and not yet seen Clinton deliver it. Were the other papers able to file later? Or (TP’s hunch) are they concealing what the WP reveals?

The NYT front page reports on the HIV epidemic among African-Americans. The initial sentences suggest a fast-growing plague: Blacks “now account for 57% of all new infections” with HIV; AIDS is “the leading cause of death among black people aged 25 to 44”; and AIDS “is becoming largely an epidemic among black people.” Not until the fourth paragraph does the paper explain that “the recent demographic shifts.are due more to a sharp drop in cases among whites than an increase among blacks.” The rest of the story focuses on the failure of black communities and institutions to confront the problem: No one wants to talk about AIDS.

The NYT and WP report inside that Lewinsky family friend Dale Young told a grand jury that Monica Lewinsky spoke of an affair with the President. The WP adds that, according to Young, Lewinsky said “Clinton set certain limits, engaging in physical activity without allowing it to reach a sexual culmination.”

The Wall Street Journal leader says railroads want to use a satellite positioning system to avoid collisions. Not only would the system make trains safer, it might reduce travel time, allowing more efficient scheduling and faster speeds. Problem: The technology is expensive and years away.

The NYT reports that a deranged Manhattanite fired five times at a homeless man who was trying to talk to him. All the shots missed their target, but one hit a nearby tourist in the leg. Poor Mayor Giuliani. You try to get rid of the homeless and boost tourism, and look how things turn out.