Today's Papers

Tapes’ Last Crap

The big stories are about the promise of good things, foreign and domestic. The WP, LAT, and NYT lead with a Mideast peace deal apparently almost in sight. USAT fronts that but leads with hints from top Federal Reserve officials that the Fed is likely to cut interest rates again next month. The paper quotes the Fed’s vice-chairman and three other Federales to the effect that the central bank is intent on keeping credit loose enough to prevent a slowdown in the U.S. economy. The WSJ flags the Fed scenario in its front-page news box.

The WP, NYT and LAT report that starting yesterday afternoon, Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat entered into intense one-on-one bargaining. Everybody writes that the U.S.-backed land-for-peace deal has been basically accepted. The papers also say the two parties have arrived at compromises regarding the Palestinian National Covenant (which currently calls for the destruction of Israel), the arrest of suspects wanted in Israel and the release of Palestinians from Israeli jails, but that the issue of whether or not Arafat might declare the territory he administers an independent state still remained a sore point. The papers report that the discussions are being conducted under the rule that no agreed-to provisions would be final until an overall agreement is reached.

The NYT and LAT have the most physical details about what went on behind closed doors, right down to seating arrangements. The two papers report that last night, President Clinton, who had been at the summit all day (accompanied, notes the LAT, by Buddy) invited King Hussein of Jordan to join the talks and that once there, the king delivered an impassioned speech calling on Netanyahu and Arafat to press for peace. The papers report that the deal being worked out involves a finishing-touches meeting a few months from now, probably in the Palestinian-governed Gaza Strip, with Clinton in attendance. This has not been confirmed by the White House.

Meanwhile, reports the LAT, on the West Bank, dozens of Israeli settlers blocked roads and held prayer rituals to drive home their demands that no more land be returned to Palestinian control. And, adds the paper, Palestinians pressing for the repatriation of their relatives in Israeli jails took to Gaza streets. And three Jewish parents who lost children to terrorist attacks began a hunger strike outside Netanyahu’s office.

The LAT’s “Column One” notes a trend among those arrested for Internet porn: they have a disproportionate tendency to kill themselves. Of the 34 Americans arrested in a September 3rd 14-nation child porn raid, reports the paper, four have since offed themselves. The suicides tend to be respectables who’ve never previously been in any kind of trouble and are desperate to escape the impending humiliation, like the former Air Force pilot in Maine who asphyxiated himself, the University of Connecticut microbiologist who slashed his wrists, or the Colorado computer consultant who shot himself in the head.

Both the NYT and WP report that, according to a study released yesterday, 1.4 million black men–13 percent of all black men–are ineligible to vote in the election next month because of a felony conviction. The Post says this is seven times the national average. The study found that the proportion of black males in prison has increased ten times faster than for white men over the past decade.

The WSJ “Washington Wire” reports that Ken Starr’s investigators are looking into whether or not Linda Tripp’s tapes were doctored. A NYT op-ed by former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste makes the observation that Starr’s ardor about the tapes apparently has its limits: he never for instance, called Lucianne Goldberg before his grand jury. The reason, Ben-Veniste suggests, is that her testimony might reveal that Starr knew about the tapes before he swears he first heard of them–which could suggest a working relationship with Paula Jones’ legal team.

Tucked into a WP “Style” section story by Michael Powell on the South Carolina governor’s race is this sentence: “He’s angered the Bubba vote, the black vote, the gambling vote and the anti-gambling vote and all that in just in the past few months.” Notice that you can’t defend the usage here by observing that many people actually use the B-word, because a lot of those folks also use the N-word, which the Post would never run. No, this is a perfect illustration of the truism that there’s still one group in this country that “respectable” people, even (especially?) sophisticated newspaper people, can slander–Southern white males. Hey, Posties, time to rework that style-sheet.