Today's Papers

Nuts So Fast

The New York Times leads with President Clinton’s statement yesterday at the Moscow summit that he would support further U.S. aid if Russia presses on with economic reforms, a message the paper says he also made in private talks with Boris Yeltsin and prominent communist politicians. The Washington Post leads with other comments Clinton made there, expressing his view that his August 17th televised speech was a clear expression of his profound regret for his actions in the White House sex scandal. (The WP calls it Clinton’s “extramarital affair with Monica S. Lewinsky.”) The Los Angeles Times goes with the crash off Nova Scotia of a Swissair flight carrying 228 people that originated in New York City, a story that broke too late to make anybody else’s first editions. USA Today is alone in leading with the stock market’s 45-points-down day, its coverage including this assessment from a market strategist: “The pros are scared to death. The amateurs are reasonably confident.”

The NYT lead reports that Clinton’s promise of more aid clashes with the stance taken by the IMF. The IMF’s number two official is quoted citing the recent tumultuous changes in the valuation of the ruble and in the Russian banking system as grounds for delaying its decision to distribute additional aid until October.

The NYT says the summit turned out to have more substantive results than were predicted: an arms accord providing for the sharing of nuclear missile launch warning data and the disposal of bomb-grade plutonium. The LAT front-pager on the meeting is somewhat less upbeat, referring to its “futility” and describing President Clinton as “conspicuously subdued and visibly unhappy.” The WP says he was “unusually downcast.” All the pictures of Clinton in the papers support this.

The WP says presidential advisors consider The Speech “a bust” (Jeez, why not just come right out and describe it as a “blown opportunity”?) and fully expected a question about Lewinsky to come up in Moscow. When it did, says the paper, Clinton went with the answer he had prepared during a prep session with aides. (The WP violates a Journalism 101 tenet by never actually saying what the question was. And the NYT in its inside piece about the reasons the reporters gave for asking the questions–frustration over lack of access–makes the same omission.)

The Post adds that the White House figured being grilled about Monica at the summit might be politically useful, in that this could make reporters appear unpatriotic.

Both the WP and NYT fronts feature grand-jury-leak-based stories about Bill Clinton’s testimony that he took a direct role in Monica Lewinsky’s job hunts. The WP says these disclosures were first made yesterday by the Associated Press. The NYT edition available to Today’s Papers doesn’t mention this.

The NYT front reports that the United Nations tribunal investigating mass killings in Rwanda yesterday handed down the first guilty verdict ever by an international court for the crime of genocide. The defendant, held responsible for the killing or 2,000 people and for dozens of rapes, is a former Rwandan mayor, who now faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. The LAT runs the story on page 20, and the WP runs it on page 40.

The LAT front reports that the FDA has approved the sale of the first-ever “morning after” emergency birth control kit. The medication is essentially a sequence of high dosage birth control pills, which is thought by its manufacturer to be less politically controversial than the French morning-after medication RU486, because it doesn’t cause an abortion, but rather interferes with ovulation. The story also runs on the WP front, while on the USAT front it’s paired with news that the government has approved two new anti-breast cancer drugs. The NYT front story on these drugs points out that one of them, tamoxifen, is already approved as a treatment for preventing the recurrence of breast cancer, but now becomes the first drug ever approved for the prevention of cancer in those who’ve never had it.

A Wall Street Journal front-page feature takes a close look at Afghanistan’s ruling cabal, the Taliban, a regime the paper says the world had better get used to, since it’s become pretty firmly ensconced. The paper says the cabal keeps its hold with public floggings and executions (the story describes a burglar’s raucous public hand amputation), intensive street patrols and networks of informants. And in a big cultural change, it has disarmed most of the general populace. With renewed law and order has come the comparatively safe transportation of goods, increased tax collection and improved essential services. There is now electricity, reports the Journal, in a country that didn’t have it for five years.

Yesterday’s WSJ reported that the Dept. of Transportation has informed airlines that, in an expansion of disability rights policy, they must soon provide peanut-free buffer zones for any passenger who declares a certified peanut allergy prior to a flight. The WP reports that the Journal story prompted numerous calls to airlines, some of whom haven’t decided how to handle the new reg. But many have–if a passenger with the problem calls in advance, there will be no peanuts on that flight. Apparently, having a “no peanuts” section has been ruled out.