Today's Papers

Swiss Cheesiness

Continuing Senate debate on the tobacco bill leads USA Today. New prospects for Nigeria lead at the Washington Post and New York Times. The Los Angeles Times goes with a report bearing fresh allegations of Swiss complicity in the Holocaust.

The tobacco bill, declared dead by Trent Lott just the other day, is still twitching on the slab. The debate centers, says USAT, on the bill’s defining proposition, advocated by Republican Sen. John McCain and a host of Democrats, including President Clinton: a $1.10 per pack in new taxes. The bill wrangle is also on the NYT front, but inside at the LAT and WP.

The NYT lead reports that one day after taking office, Nigeria’s new leader, Gen. Abubakar, apparently among the cadre of army officers who want the military to loosen its political control, says he will turn over power to an elected civilian government by October 1st. The paper also states that there are hints from the new leadership of the imminent release of many of the country’s numerous political prisoners. Doing so, reports the Times, would win international praise but domestically could unleash a big popular movement against the military. Indeed, pro-democracy opposition groups are calling for a large demonstration on Friday. The WP lead says that the Clinton administration is offering improved ties with Nigeria’s government if it moves toward democracy, but contrary to the Times, the Post says remarks by the new leader “held little promise of a swift return to civilian rule.” However, the paper goes on to say that because of his military training in the States, Gen. Abubakar is thought to be friendly towards the U.S.

The LAT puts another nail in the coffin of the image of Swiss purity during World War II with word of a new report from the Simon Wiesenthal Center describing how in numerous secret meetings with members of a Swiss anti-Semitic group, the wartime Swiss minister for justice and police promised that he would stop most Jews from entering the country. Only a few Jews would be allowed in, he said, and these solely for the purpose of showing the Swiss public how hard Jews are to live with. The report contains copies of the minutes of these meetings.

The LAT goes top front with words and a picture regarding three white supremacists arrested yesterday, charged with killing a black man by dragging him behind their car for several miles. Nobody else deems the story front-page news.

The Wall Street Journal notes that this week’s recall of a major heart drug, Posicor, and the disclosure of another ten deaths of men taking Viagra, are reminders that “While pharmaceuticals manufacturers test their concoctions on several thousand subjects to monitor side-effects and efficacy, the real experiment begins only after a drug hits the market and vastly more people begin taking it.” This is especially true of safety issues relating to interactions with other medications. In fact, says the paper, it took follow-up tests to reveal that one of the drugs Posicor has interaction problems with is…Viagra.

The NYT off-lead is the news that the Southern Baptists, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, which counts among its adherents Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Newt Gingrich, and Trent Lott, has, at its annual convention, amended its statement of essential beliefs to include the declaration that a woman should “submit herself graciously” to her husband’s leadership, and a husband should “provide for, protect and lead his family.” The Times puts the woman’s responsibilities in its headline, but not the man’s.

Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist has rejected a request by a group of minority lawyers for a meeting to discuss the dearth of minorities selected as Court law clerks, the USAT front says. The matter was first broached by a USAT story last March revealing just how few non-whites clerk for the Supremes: only 2 percent of the 394 clerks ever hired by the current crop of Justices. Four sitting Justices, including Rehnquist, have never hired a black clerk.

The WSJ runs a front-page feature about an emerging problem for the airlines: brazen as well as non-consensual in-flight sex. According to the Journal, wild goings-on often lead to explosive conflicts between passengers and crew, and in at least one case almost produced a forced landing. Things have gotten so bad that the airlines are addressing the issue in their training and hiring consultants who specialize in it. The parents of Sarah Richfield must be very proud–here she is, just thirty and already written up in the Wall Street Journal! Oh sure, it was for having sex with her boyfriend in the bathroom on a plane while arguing through the door with the flight attendant telling her to er, return herself to the fully upright and locked position. Which makes “Today’s Papers” wonder: Why was Richfield mentioned by name in the story, while the Journal very decorously referred to another passenger, ultimately convicted of abusive sexual contact for the aerial fondling of a fifteen-year-old, only as “a Brooklyn man”?