Today's Papers


The Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and USA Today lead with the Japanese election results, which will very likely force the resignation today of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. The top-non-local story at the Washington Post is France’s triumph at the French-hosted World Cup, a story that gets top-of-the-page-with-pictures coverage at not only the Post, but also at the Times and USAT. (And a reefer-with-picture at the LAT.) This no doubt reflects the papers’: a) perception that they have more immigrant readers these days and b) chance to justify all those upcoming French expense account items.

The papers read the Japanese returns–described by USAT and the Wall Street Journal as “stunning” and by the NYT as a “brutal drubbing”–as the electorate’s impatience with Hashimoto’s ineffectual response to Japan’s worse recession in fifty years. As the papers explain, Hashimoto’s party, the Liberal Democrats, retains power, but its loss of control of Parliament’s upper house means other party pols now feel free to maneuver for the LDP leadership and hence for P.M. The Journal notes that the results mean Hashimoto’s scheduled trip to meet with President Clinton next week is cancelled. The LAT leads its story with the big picture: Hashimoto will become the third Asian leader in less than a year to be toppled from power by the region’s economic crisis. The WP, in its front-page effort says the crisis has chalked up new leadership in four countries (specifying besides Japan: Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand).

The WP, NYT and LAT front the firebomb murder of three sleeping brothers ages 7, 9, and 10 in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland. The outrage is believed to be the work of Protestant extremists reacting to the Catholic mother’s recent move into a mostly Protestant neighborhood. Although the bombing certainly seems capable of upsetting the recently approved peace agreement, the WP notes one ray of hope: unlike in the past, the murders quickly prompted bipartisan calls for restraint. A neighbor is quoted by the NYT wondering, “Where’s the logic when children are burned in their beds?”

The USAT front reports that high-level talks between GM and the UAW broke off Sunday. GM had been hoping that the union would cut a deal that would allow struck GM plants to re-open today. But now, says the paper’s headline, “Long Strike Likely.” The paper also goes front-page with word that GM plans to recall more than one million Cadillacs, Chevrolets and Pontiacs because their air bags can inflate without a crash. Federal safety regulators have also been busy with the problem: they are, says USAT, investigating airbag function in Mitsibushi Mirages (prompted by a 1994 death of a man) and in several Subaru, Mazda and Chrysler models.

The NYT runs a front-page takeout on the career of the Cuban exiles’ longtime top clandestine operative that jumps inside to a two-page full spread complete with pictures and time-line. The story is based on an extensive interview given to freelance Cuba specialist Ann Louise Bardach and staffer Larry Rohter by the man, Luis Posada Carriles, at his Caribbean hideout. Posada’s tale of anti-Castro ops, which includes a series of Havana hotel bombings last year, alleges considerable consorting with the CIA. “The CIA,” he is quoted, “taught us explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in acts of sabotage….Now they call it terrorism.”

According to an AP story inside the WP, John Glenn’s readmission to the space program has had an unanticipated consequence: thirty-eight years after becoming NASA’s first female astronaut candidate, Jerrie Cobb wants back in the program too. Cobb, who is ten years younger than Glenn, originally passed all the same NASA tests Glenn did. A NASA spokesman is quoted in the piece saying, “At this time, there are no plans to fly her.”

The WSJ reports that when the soon-to-be-released “Small Soldiers” got assigned a stiffer-than-expected PG-13 rating two months ago, Burger King was left with a marketing tie-in promotion of action figure toys designed for kids who wouldn’t be seeing the movie. The chain quickly devised a contingency plan, which included pulling ads from Saturday morning kids shows, point-of-purchase signs advising parents to consider the content of the movie before deciding to take their kids, and trade-ins for Mr. Potato Head. The episode illustrates, says the Journal, the perils of devising marketing plans for movies before they’re made.

Dept. of Corrections. Another stretch in the cooler for TP: When “Today’s Papers” remarked earlier this month on the oddity of President Clinton’s pro-homeownership remarks in China given that he’d never owned a home, several readers complained. Reader Ed Gray reports that according to Pulaski County Arkansas records, Clinton once owned a house at 816 N. Midland in Little Rock. “Today’s Papers” regrets the error.

Sunday’s NYT “Week in Review” runs a piece about how the recent journalism scandals have produced a distinct article genre: the media career obituary. The piece then inadvertently throws dirt on the face of director Barry Levinson by crediting his hit “Wag the Dog” to James L. Brooks.