Today's Papers

Shuttered to Think

USA Today

and the New York Times lead with the U.S. decision, in the wake of the African embassy bombings, to shut some embassies in order to update their security. The Washington Post goes with word that Kenneth Starr’s upcoming report to Congress will focus on evidence of possible impeachable acts relating to President Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky and will not even include the Arkansas financial dealings that Starr has been investigating for four years. The WP front ignores embassy security, and the USAT and Times fronts ignore Starr.

USAT and the NYT report that the State Dept. says it has received more than a dozen threats to embassies since the African bombings, but that State is emphasizing embassies are not being closed permanently. Indeed, the NYT suggests the downtime might be just a matter of days. USAT quotes the AP’s identification of three of the affected sites: the embassies in Uganda, Malaysia and Swaziland. The Times also names Uganda and Malaysia, but refers only to a several-hours evacuation at the Swaziland embassy in response to a bomb threat. The paper adds that the embassy in the Ivory Coast is cutting back its business hours while security is improved, and that the Cairo offices of the U.S. Agency for International Development were closed and its employees moved into the city’s U.S. embassy.

This space often notes how USAT headlines cut to the chase, but its headline over this story–“U.S. To Shut Embassies To Fix Security”–cuts too much, with its suggestion that all embassies are being affected. Better is the NYT header: “U.S. Closes Down Some Operations in Foreign Posts.”

The WP’s account of the Starr report to Congress notes that he will eventually produce a separate and more inclusive document for the judicial panel that appointed him. In the meantime though, the paper explains, the pared-down Lewinsky report will get to Congress quickly (probably shortly after President Clinton testifies to the Starr grand jury)–in plenty of time to leak out and produce much partisan acrimony during the fall elections.

The NYT and USAT top fronts feature stories about yesterday’s court proceeding in Arkansas in which a twelve-year-old and a fourteen-year-old were given the strictest sentence available to juveniles, for shooting to death four students and a teacher: confinement in a juvenile detention center until age 18. One of the boys made no formal statement in court, while the other apologized but also said he meant to shoot over everybody’s head.

The Times notes that in Arkansas, juvenile proceedings are usually closed to the public and press, but that the judge in this case had allowed a more open hearing. And the nation’s newspaper editors seem to have likewise loosened up on juvenile coverage in this case–the papers run the boys’ names, and indeed, the fronts of the NYT, WP, and USAT all feature pictures of them. Just what are the papers’ policies in this area? It’s hard to figure out from what they publish–just yesterday the papers told the tale of two boys, age 7 and 8, arrested for murdering an 11-year-old girl, without publishing their pictures or their names.

The WP reports that the three-year old Korean War Memorial, built in Washington, D.C. by the Army Corps of Engineers, needs $2 million to fix buckled paving stones, 40 dead shade trees, and a leaking Pool of Remembrance. Shouldn’t a war memorial be built to last longer than the war it’s a memorial to?

The Wall Street Journal runs a front-page feature describing a new type of medical consultant service: for about $800 a year, you get access to a doctor who, when you get sick, advises you how to best navigate the health care bureaucracy. The paper says such a development points the way to a multitiered medical system where the quality of medical care might depend even more than it does today on a patient’s wealth.

The WP reports that last week’s signing into law by President Clinton of a comprehensive job training bill “got lost in the backdraft of the Monica Lewinsky investigation.” The paper adds that “little seems to be getting done in the capital these days and when it does it barely causes a ripple.” The story runs on page six.