Today's Papers

Outlook Bats .00

The New York Times’ lead says that the U.S. will provide several billion dollars of aid to Brazil, as part of a $30 billion international package to help stave off financial turmoil there. The Washington Post’s lead covers a local election race; the off-lead describes the international reach of American pop culture. The Los Angeles Times leads with a new poll showing Democrat Gray Davis handily leading Republican Dan Lungren (53 to 42%) in the California gubernatorial race. The LAT’s top national story (fronted all around) is Friday’s killing of a prominent abortion doctor in upstate New York. The doctor, Barnett Slepian, was shot in his home Friday night by a sniper who was lurking in the bushes. Over the last four years years, four other abortion doctors have been wounded in the region, and just days ago authorities had warned of possible new attacks.

The NYT lead says that details of the U.S. aid to Brazil are still being hammered out, and that the U.S. aid package itself has not yet been publicly announced. President Clinton may approve the package during Congress’s recess, but since lawmakers are concerned about Brazil’s financial straits they are unlikely to pose major objections. Nonetheless, the administration is approaching the issue warily, recalling the Congressional storm over a 1995 commitment of $20 billion to bail out Mexico. The bulk of the international loan to Brazil will come from the International Monetary Fund ($15 billion plus), and the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank ($9 billion together).

Money is not America’s only gift to Brazil, as the WP’s lengthy lead reminds us. The Post tracks Madonna to Sao Paulo, Bart Simpson to Seoul, and the word “cool” to every spot on the planet. The article meanders into a debate over whether the near-universal English language helps fuel the overseas success of American pop culture (or vice versa–do people learn English from American movies?). The piece then raises the host of moral debates associated with the global onset of pop culture–should Beverly Hills, for example, really be mandatory viewing for half the world’s population?

All papers have big spreads on the Middle East peace wrap-up. Among the articles: A WP front pager details how Clinton’s personal charm and famed wordplay ability nudged the negotiations through tight spots. The LAT stresses the new intermediary role the U.S. will assume in policing the agreement’s implementation. A NYT piece says that Palestinians, wary and weary from empty past peace accords, have greeted the latest installment with “zero jubilation.”

On the Kosovo front, the papers report yesterday’s U.N. Security Council vote, which apparently gave NATO a mandate for military intervention in Kosovo. However, the resolution was softened to the point of ambiguity by the dissent (and eventual abstention) of Russia and China; the NYT says the UNSC resolution “skirts an outright threat to use force.” Of particular concern is NATO’s capacity to protect the 2000 unarmed international monitors arriving in Kosovo to oversee the implementation of the Holbrooke-Milosevic deal.

The NYT Week in Review and the WP Outlook sections are awash with Pinochet’s arrest, Kosovo, and the Middle East. Of particular interest is a WP op-ed by Genaro Arriagada, the Chilean Ambassador to the U.S. and the architect of Pinochet’s defeat in 1988. Arriagada argues for Pinochet’s release on two fronts: that international law governing Pinochet’s arrest is extremely nebulous, and that the arrest impedes Chile’s path toward reconciliation.

An excellent WP “Style” article visits the bizarre Wisconsin headquarters of the “Onion,” the popular, crude parody newspaper. When they’re not busy painting their fingernails silver, editors there dream up headlines like “Midwest’ Discovered Between East, West Coasts” and “U.S. Ambassador to Bulungi Suspected of Making Country Up.”

The millennial blooper award goes to Outlook. Outlook’s name-the-00s-decade contest raked in creative entries from “Pre-Teens” to the “O-Zone.” Outlook’s verdict? “We considered dozens of qualified candidates, and it was so difficult to choose a winner that we didn’t.”