Today's Papers

No Operating Manual

NATO’s bombing of Belgrade leads all the papers today. U.S. warships fired seven cruise missiles at Belgrade last night attacking the center of Yugoslavia’s capital for the first time since NATO airstrikes began on March 24. The New York Times reports the Pentagon refused to disclose what had been hit. All the papers report that the Serbian and Yugoslavian interior ministries–where paramilitary police forces responsible for the attacks against ethnic Albanians were headquartered, a detail the Los Angeles Times leaves out–were hit.

The NYT story calls the Belgrade strikes “the first firm evidence” that NATO was carrying out its warning that Yugoslavia’s political and military leaders would receive “no sanctuary.”

The Washington Post lead reports 220,000 people–over 10 percent of the population–have fled or been forced out of Kosovo since the NATO bombing began, as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees announced. Thousands more are at the border waiting to be expelled, says the WP, with the number of fighting-age men who are escaping Kosovo still suspiciously low. The LAT lead: “NATO spokesmen said that about 634,000 people–one-third of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian population last March–have been displaced” from Kosovo.

The LAT story says there is no sign if Yugoslavia would begin trying the three U.S. soldiers captured near the Kosovo-Macedonia border, though it also reports announcements on Serbian television that a formal investigation by the military tribunal has started. The Post writes “Yugoslav officials began unspecified court proceedings.”

As the Post reports most clearly and the LAT acknowledges, the Serbs have not responded to a U.S. request, delivered by Sweden, that the three be handled in accordance with international agreements on the treatment of prisoners of war and that International Red Cross representatives be allowed to see them.

More from the WP lead: Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic requested military aid from Russia, which has not decided whether to send it. The WP interprets remarks Clinton made at a White House news briefing to imply that he may be softening his opposition to sending U.S. ground troops to Kosovo.

In another story on their front, the WP reports further on this possibility, saying “military planners in Europe for the first time have begun preliminary discussions about the possibility of sending ground troops into Kosovo … as something more than peacekeepers.” The reasons for this possible new plan of attack: U.S. intelligence and senior military officials said yesterday Serbian forces might soon be successful in destroying the armed rebel forces in Kosovo, and U.S. and NATO sources believe public opinion of sending ground troops is improving.

The piece also notes that military officials “do not want to repeat the mistake they made in planning for the air war” should they go ahead with sending ground troops. That mistake, explained with a quote from an anonymous senior U.S. official: “We didn’t plan for the worst-case scenario.”

In their leads, both Times note claims by U.S. and NATO officials that the airstrikes were beginning to affect Yugoslav forces.

A NYT front story reports that Deputy Mayor Rudy Washington, the highest-ranking black member of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s administration, told the mayor that New York police had harassed him more than once for what Washington believed to be racial reasons. Washington declined to comment about what he told the mayor and asked the mayor that the details of their conversation not be disclosed. Many prominent black New Yorkers have complained about unfair treatment by New York police since the shooting death of an unarmed West African immigrant, Amadou Diallo, on February 4. The four police officers responsible for the death have since been indicted.

Everybody fronts that 30-year-old New Jersey computer programmer David L. Smith has been charged with interrupting public communication for writing and launching the Melissa e-mail virus. The NYT puts the situation in context: Melissa wasn’t very destructive relative to other viruses, but the danger, according to technology experts, is that the method used to transmit Melissa was dangerously efficient, allowing for very fast replication. Smith’s motive? Officials think, says the WP, he simply wanted to see if he could do it. The name of the virus? It was apparently inspired by a topless dancer.

A letter to the editor published in the NYT responds to Anne Cassidy’s March 29 Op-Ed “Parents Know Better” by saying, “The reason [parents] look to outside sources for help [in raising their kids] is because children don’t come with an operating manual.” Today’s Papers would like to point out that two operating manuals on raising kids are now available: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Parenting a Preschooler and Toddler, Too and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Parenting a Teenager.