Today's Papers

Why Johnny Can’t Need

USA Today

, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times lead with Slobodan Milosevic’s promise to withdraw his forces from Kosovo in the face of threatened NATO airstrikes. The Washington Post lead covers Congress’ latest moves in its attempts to arrive at a budget, stressing the tentative approval by key House and Senate Republicans of President Clinton’s requested $18 billion for the IMF. The death of the gay student who was kidnapped and beaten in Wyoming grabs front space at the NYT, LAT, and USAT, and is the subject of the NYT’s lead editorial, which points out that Wyoming, like nine other states, has no hate-crime laws.

The papers report that even though Milosevic agreed to back out of Kosovo, NATO yesterday authorized airstrikes against him that could begin in four days if he doesn’t actually do that. They also report that in the meantime, about 2,000 airborne and ground-based allied inspectors–including some American civilians and, say the LAT and NYT, some Russians–will verify that Milosevic’s Serbian troops have indeed pulled back, allowing Albanians to return to their homes. If this doesn’t happen, the NATO air plan to be implemented would begin with cruise missiles and progress to a full bombing campaign. The LAT says that each stage of the plan could be flown only after being approved by NATO’s ambassadors (something the NYT says is not clear) and that only military facilities would be targeted. The NYT account stresses more than the others the resistance of the Russians to the airstrike plan.

The WP reports that House Republicans have extracted something in return for infusion of fresh U.S. billions into IMF coffers: 1) a promise by major IMF contributors to push the agency to require above-market rates and reasonably short repayment periods for its loans (to lessen high-risk borrowing in aided countries); 2) a requirement that the IMF release written summaries of its board meetings and other major documents within three months. The paper says that the White House and the Hill are close on a number of the remaining budget issues, including a Clinton plan to spend $1.1 billion to hire 100,000 new teachers. But since agreements have not yet been reached, Congress passed another short-term funding bill– the third since October 1st–to tide the government over for a few more days.

Another budget story on the Post front addresses the thirty or so line items that appear in print for the first time in the $250 billion defense bill Congress just passed–so-called “virgin births.” The list this year, reports the Post, includes $250,000 to study the tactical applications of caffeinated chewing gum.

The papers report that the Nobel Prize in Medicine goes this year to three Americans who discovered that nitric oxide (not, the papers admonish, nitrous oxide, which is laughing gas), known best as an air pollutant, is also produced in the body, where it regulates blood pressure, nerve firing, and immune responses. The Post waits until the third paragraph of its story to mention that nitric oxide is central to the process of getting an erection and as such is a key element in the workings of Viagra. At the NYT, erections make the second paragraph, Viagra the fifth. At the LAT Viagra makes the second paragraph, erections the 18th.

A Wall Street Journal front-page feature cites a strong consumer trend: the young children of boomers have buying habits that formerly were associated with adolescents. The piece quotes a finding that while aggregate spending by or on behalf of children 4-12 roughly doubled every decade between 1960-1980, in the 1990s, it has tripled. The money goes, says the Journal, to such surprises as fitness clubs and personal trainers, Delta Airlines pre-schoolers fliers club, and Liberty Financial’s mutual fund for children, which features a quarterly coloring book and a savings and investing bingo game. One suspicion-raising feature of the story: the three cities mentioned in vignettes are all upper-upper-end nearly-pure-white towns within a radius of fifty miles of Los Angeles.