Today's Papers

Is There A Will? (There were Jays.)

All the papers lead with NATO’s summit and Kosovo and front the latest news on the Columbine shooting. A journal kept by one of the shooters recorded the developing plan of attack, listing school maps, communication signals, hiding places, and more. The two decided to begin their assault during lunch in the cafeteria “to maximize the number of victims,” in the Washington Post’s words. The diary revealed that the two chose April 20 to attack because it’s Hitler’s birthday. They seem to have been fascinated with Hitler even though, as the New York Times notes, shooter Dyan Klebold’s mother is Jewish. Both Times note that the diary was started in April 1998. The Los Angeles Times is the only paper that reports on which house the diary was in, Eric Harris’.

All the stories report local sheriff John Stone’s statement that the shooters’ “parents should have known,” because police found a shotgun barrel and bomb-making materials in one of the boys’ rooms. (The LAT coverage most clearly states that the bomb materials were only found in one house.) Investigators think the two must have had accomplices because of the size of their arsenal, and also, as the NYT tells with a quote from Stone, some of the weapons used were ones “that a juvenile can’t buy.”

The WP and LAT note police received an e-mail two days after the shooting threatening more violence. The Post story has the police taking the e-mail seriously and quotes Stone: “Precautions have been taken.” (Those precautions are not delineated.) The LAT writes “later [on Saturday], police said it appeared the e-mail was a hoax.”

A number of pieces reflect on the shooting. In the Post’s “Outlook” section, WP business editor Fred Barbash points out that after the Dunblane slaughter, the Labor-led Scottish government banned all handguns. In Scotland, the issue was a “national conversation,” he writes; in the States, national conversations–especially ones about gun control–don’t really happen. An NYT editorial says, “The fact that there is no perfect solution cannot be used as a cover for doing nothing,” and suggests improved school security, early help for troubled youngsters, and better gun control. It declares that allowing a prompt vote on long-buried gun-control measures is “the least that Congress can do in this moment of national grief.”

Everybody mentions NATO’s Friday decision to effect a Yugoslav oil embargo. The WP story says NATO “leaders found themselves at odds over how to enforce” it. The NYT says “details of that blockade must still be worked out by NATO’s military commander, Gen. Wesley K. Clark.” The LAT emphasizes French President Chirac’s concerns about the legality of using force to impose the embargo. The WP: “Hungary, as the only NATO country bordering Yugoslavia, … will seek approval from parliament to stop [oil] deliveries” on their way to Yugoslavia. Both Times mention Russia’s denunciation of the embargo. The Post and LAT point out that NATO has emphasized it wants to work with Russia to bring about peace.

In its lead, the WP reports on NATO’s Saturday announcement that its military has new authority to strike “politically important targets” like Yugoslav public utility systems, broadcasting stations, and Milosevic’s personal property. Haven’t they already struck such targets? Yes, but now they can do it without specific authorization from NATO representatives for each strike. There’s also a new long-range NATO initiative to take on military missions to prevent human rights abuses “beyond [NATO’s] borders,” according to the Post, or “anywhere in Europe,” according to the LAT. The East Coast papers report NATO will also cooperate to protect its countries from threats like “global terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

The Post off-lead’s headline asks “Can [NATO] Alliance Muster Will to Win?” It continues, “When a war pits the rump state of Yugoslavia against a coalition with 37 times its standing army and 696 times its national wealth, will is unavoidably the central issue.” It notes NATO’s been bolder than experts expected. (Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker’s explanation of NATO’s resolve is that it’s attempting to avoid the kind of inaction that characterized its response in Bosnia.) Regardless, NATO’s members have disagreed about how to handle Kosovo and haven’t achieved their goals–hence the question of will. An anonymous NATO defense minister: “What worries me is that we may find ourselves in a situation similar to Vietnam, in which political limitations on military action were quite destructive to the efficiency of the military action.”

A NYT book review, entitled “Did He Inhale?,” of a new biography about presidential hopeful Al Gore says author Bob Zelnick reports Al and wife Tipper used marijuana recreationally for a decade. (Remember when voters’ big concern about Clinton was if he’d inhaled?)