Today's Papers

Netanyahu’s Right-Hand Man?

The New York Times leads with the Senate’s narrow rejection of a patients’ rights bill. The Washington Post leads with Congress’s self-approved extension of the budget deadline. The Los Angeles Times goes with the problems associated with the last few days’ sudden leap in mortgage rates.

The NYT lead, also fronted by the WP, says that the Senate voted 50-47 to quash a health care bill backed by the Democrats. The bill would have guaranteed access to emergency care and medical specialists and made it easier to sue HMOs for improper denial of care. In the lead paragraph, the NYT states the causes of the bill’s demise: “heavy lobbying by the insurance industry and of the sex scandal that has enveloped President Clinton.” (Explanation: distraction. Clinton has been too bogged down in scandal to lobby hard for the bill.)

But the national budget may meet a happier fate. With the unanimous 421-0 passage of a temporary spending bill, the government now has until midnight Monday to come up with a budget package. (Today’s Papers, incidentally, approves the concept of voting oneself deadline extensions.) But even the new deadline may not be enough time for Congress to resolve all remaining issues. Among the sticklers: President Clinton’s education initiatives; IMF funding; the use of statistical sampling in the upcoming census; and even whether giving contraceptives to minors requires parental notification. Only six of 13 spending bills were completed yesterday, and all unfinished measures will probably be glopped together into one mammoth spending bill.

The LAT lead attributes the mortgage rate rise–in some cases amounting to half a percentage point–to the stuttering global economy. Called the most dramatic mortage rate development since the October 1987 stock market crash, the rise is forcing consumers across the country to pay more than they anticipated, or to make last-minute changes of plan. However, says the LAT, rates are not expected to rise much further.

The NYT and the WP both run stories on the Judiciary Committee witness selection. The WP emphasizes that Kenneth Starr may be among the first called to testify (Chairman Henry Hyde having relaxed his objections), but probably President Clinton will not be called. The NYT story plays up the committee’s partisan disagreements over the witness issue. Republicans want the heavy-hitters in the scandal, while Democrats badly want Starr.

The LAT reports that Pakistan is barreling toward “full Islamic law.” The country’s lower house of Parliament Friday voted to make the Koran the supreme law of Pakistan. Human rights leaders fear that this could escalate into further, Taliban-esque repression. The bill must still be passed by the upper house of Parliament.

The NYT runs a bottom front story on last month’s court victory by a psychotic killer, Wendell Williamson, against his therapist. The North Carolina verdict, which netted Williamson $500,000, states that the therapist did not sufficiently follow up with Williamson after terminating their sessions, and did not sufficiently explain Williamson’s condition to him. These sins of omission, according to the verdict, factored into Williamson’s shooting of two people shortly after the sessions ended. Psychiatrists around the country are understandably worried; the psychiatrist in question intends to appeal.

All papers run stories on the appointment of Israel’s new foreign minister. The tapping of Ariel Sharon, who strongly supports Jewish settlements in the West Bank, is widely seen as a move by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to appease his party’s far right. Though the Palestinians are upset, the appointment may conversely smooth peace negotiations: Netanyahu will have already secured the far right, the logic goes, so he can afford to yield more in the peace negotiations next week. Sharon has already shown himself to be rather handy with diplomacy: He has vowed never to shake Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat’s hand, and he also remarked on a previous occasion that Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t know his right hand from his left.