Today's Papers

German Kohl Cuts

The Los Angeles Times and New York Times lead with the German election results, in which Gerhard Schroeder defeated 16-year chancellor Helmut Kohl, a story that makes everybody’s front. USA Today leads with the Gulf Coast arrival of Hurricane Georges. The big concern, says USAT, is the flooding that is likely when the storm hits New Orleans, where tens of thousands of residents have taken shelter in such locales as the Superdome and the convention center. The Washington Post leads with Mark McGwire’s final total of 70 home runs, achieved via his second straight two-HR game, a story that gets top-of-the-page-with-picture coverage everywhere.

The LAT says that “Schroeder’s policies differ little from those of Kohl–and his election expressed a hunger for a new face more than a new direction.” The NYT sees a bigger difference, saying that while Kohl campaigned on Germany’s rise from Nazism and its role in Europe, Schroeder talked about jobs. The paper says that strategy worked because Germans are “tired of history lessons” and concerned that their society is fraying. The WP cites both the “new face” and unemployment angles.

Schroeder’s Social Democratic Party polled 41 percent of the vote, but will still need, note the papers, to enter into a coalition with another party in parliament to rule Germany. One possibility mentioned is that the SDP will hook up with the left-leaning/enviro Greens. Both Times mention that the Greens have long opposed the current NATO set-up. The LAT adds that any such coalition would have to worry about radical Greens bolting. Another development: the successor to the Communist Party gained parliamentary strength in the vote. The LAT says the numbers are such that Schroeder doesn’t have to enter an alliance with the neo-Communists. The NYT says he has promised not to. There is one other recurring difference in the papers’ Germany coverage: all but the NYT render the winner’s name “Schroeder,” while the Ochs Sulzberger bund foregoes that “oe” for an “o” under an umlaut.

The sort of story that, post-Monica, has been far too scarce appears today on the LAT front: the paper’s long-time defense business reporter Ralph Vartabedian reports that new government information out today shows that the Pentagon still can’t protect itself against embezzlement and overpayment. According to the story, there have been a dozen cases of DOD embezzlement in recent years, featuring such dodges as clerks creating fictitious contracts and then honoring them–with checks to themselves. One case in the story: an Air Force sergeant who arranged for his wife and mother to receive more $900,000. The three accountants who tried to alert authorities to this were…removed from their jobs. The LAT says Pentagon financial controls have gotten weaker under the Clinton administration “reinvention of government.” Of course, the paper should have mentioned that this hardly counts against the idea of streamlining bureaucracy–it only shows that not all reinventions are equally good ones.

The WP reports that with less than two weeks before the federal government runs out of money, twelve of the thirteen spending bills remain unsigned. The Post says that getting very little attention beneath all the Monica mayhem are special provisions that have added billions to the defense bill, and hundreds of millions to the veterans and housing bill and to the energy bill, to name a few. But the paper is rather stinting on details, compared to say, its coverage of dress stains, and runs the story on page 4.

A Wall Street Journal front-page feature explores a worrisome unintended consequence of the pesticide strictures in the food safety law passed two years ago: to ensure compliance, some top pesticide manufacturers have resumed testing their products on people, a practice that, although legal, they’d abandoned in the early 1980s. In the U.S. and Britain, scores of volunteers are now swallowing small doses of toxic pesticides. Sometimes, the paper reports, test subjects are told that they are ingesting a “drug” not a pesticide.

The Post reports that a Democratic congressional candidate in Wisconsin has formulated and signed an “affidavit of integrity” declaring that “he has never: committed adultery; abused his wife or children; engaged in homosexual activity; experimented with illegal drugs; or been charged with or convicted of a felony.” Hey, where’s the cigar clause?