Today's Papers

Impeach Pits

The Los Angeles Times and USA Today lead with a court-ordered scientific panel’s finding of no credible evidence that silicone breast implants cause disease, a story that also makes the New York Times front, but runs inside at the Washington Post. The WP goes with the House Judiciary Committee’s ever-increasing hardening of partisan lines concerning impeachment. And the NYT leads with the Exxon/Mobil deal announced yesterday, which would create the world’s largest company. There is so much uncertainty about whether the $80 billion deal will get government approval, that, the Times observes, both companies’ stock prices dipped on the news. Columnist Alexander Cockburn warns in the LAT of one thing that will in his opinion definitely go up if the deal flies: gas prices. USAT’s inside package on the merger says in the short-term prices will go down, but the experts quoted are less sure about the long-term.

The implant leads point out that the panel’s findings could make it much harder in the future for women to convince juries that their silicones gave them arthritis, lupus, or immune system and/or connective tissue problems. Both USAT and the LAT note that the panel did not address the health consequences of ruptured implants, nor, adds USAT, problems of infection or painful breast hardening. The LAT says that the findings fit with other recent scientific results. The paper mentions in its second paragraph that three of the four scientists on the panel are women, while USAT saves this information for the last paragraph. And the LAT surprises with word that the panel members are barred from speaking to the media. Still? Why? How is this possible?

The Post lead says the committee Republicans won a vote allowing pursuit of alleged Clinton fundraising abuses, and the White House is considering not presenting any defense whatsoever to any areas the committee has raised–because, in the words quoted from presidential spokesman Joe Lockhart, the HJC has been “hijacked by extremists.” Dick Gephardt, says the paper, deemed the committee’s investigation “in chaos” and asked Newt Gingrich to take charge, which Gingrich apparently will not do. The NYT editorial page, which has been tough on Clinton lo these many months, agrees with Gephardt, in an editorial titled “Out of Control.” The Wall Street Journal editorial page gets off a good line from the other direction, saying that the Democrats’ increasing intransigence given their reading of public sentiment shows that “polls are the crack cocaine of politics.”

While the WP focuses on all the political carping, it barely mentions that yesterday’s Judiciary hearing was largely given over to the testimony of convicted perjurers, legal experts and several retired military officers, all discoursing on the nature and significance of perjury. By contrast, the NYT, in its front-page story, is quite taken with the two perjurers, an ex-basketball coach and a doctor, both of whom had been found guilty of lying about sex. (But how galling it must be for witness Alan Dershowitz that neither the Post nor the Times mentions his name.)

In his WP column, Michael Kelly doles out some important context to the recent news that an international aid effort has produced $3 billion in pledges of aid for the Palestinian Authority: the London Sunday Times recently reported that the PA once diverted $20 million earmarked for low-cost housing to luxury flats for Yasser Arafat’s elite instead, and moreover, that the PA’s own auditors found last year that nearly 40 percent of the annual budget of $323 million was wasted, looted or misused.

An inside story at the NYT reports on the novel fundraising project undertaken by a fourth-grade class in a Denver suburb. They have used the $35,000 they have raised so far to free 601 people from chattel slavery in Sudan. Send your generous donations to Highline Community School in Aurora, Colorado.

An AP story in the WP heralds yet another cyber innovation: Starting today, men can register with the Selective Service at the agency’s web site. Not only is this a blow for convenience, but also a social control masterpiece. The only way to symbolically protest a paperless draft would be to burn your…computer.