Today's Papers

At What Price?

All the papers lead with a Kosovo update. But first, the other top stories. The Washington Post fronts high the latest on Thursday’s shooting in Georgia. Identified by students at Heritage High School as Thomas Solomon Jr., the shooter fired a .357 magnum revolver three times and a .22-caliber rifle 11 times without any apparent specific targets. All six of those hit by his bullets are expected to recover. He got both guns by breaking into his parents’ locked gun cabinet. The local sheriff declined to comment on whether the shooter, who is currently being charged with six counts of aggravated assault since Georgia doesn’t have an attempted-murder charge, was suicidal but did say, “We are taking every precaution.”

A New York Times front story reports that in the House, Democrats are pushing for a gun-control vote within the next week and are criticizing Republican leaders for dragging their feet on the issue. A dozen House democrats met with Clinton Friday afternoon to strategize. Lawmakers say he wants an additional measure, besides those passed by the Senate, raising the minimum age for handgun purchase and possession from 18 to 21. Republican Dennis Hastert, House Speaker, “indicated support” for raising the minimum purchase age, but not possession age. The piece reminds that “the Democrats are virtually powerless to force a vote,” a counterpoint to the headline, “House Democrats Push Early Vote on Anti-Gun Legislation.”

The Los Angeles Times goes high with a piece about the major Justice Department antitrust crackdown, evidenced by its actions against American Airlines, Microsoft Corp., credit card companies, and others. George Washington University law Professor William E. Kovacic, an antitrust specialist, is quoted: “It’s been 20 years since the government took on so many major figures of American commerce and accused them of abuse of power.”

Now for Kosovo. The NYT and WP focus on the U.S. call for a swift deployment of a 50,000-troop peacekeeping force to Kosovo to aid in the return of Albanian refugees. The idea is that these forces need to be in place as soon as possible so that refugees can begin returning to Kosovo this winter, whether or not Milosevic has backed down by then. About 13,000 troops–most of them, the NYT says, British and French–are already in place in Macedonia. 7,000 of the 50,000 would be American troops, says the NYT story, which also calls the announcement “an effort to try to threaten … Slobodan Milosevic.” The Post emphasizes NATO’s endorsement of continued bombing in Belgrade “despite mounting criticism of damage to civilian buildings.”

Everyone seems to concur that disagreement about the nature of the peacekeeping force is the major obstacle in settlement discussions between NATO, Russia, and Milosevic. The NYT gives the following details about the settlement discussions: The Clinton administration wants a settlement ready for the minute Milosevic waves a white flag. So, in order to come to an agreement, the White House has been talking with the Russians about concessions which would allow Milosevic to retain some forces in Kosovo. But, the story continues, “This is a sore point for ethnic Albanians, on whose behalf NATO has largely conducted its air war.” The Albanians want eventual independence. If there are armed Serbs in Kosovo, many refugees would refuse to return, which would obviously be problematic.

The LAT Kosovo story has a different angle. It underscores a retreat made on Friday by the Yugoslav government, which said it no longer objects to an international peacekeeping force made up primarily of alliance troops. The White House dismissed the concession as too minor; hence, says the LAT , the continued bombings. The piece cites State Department spokesman James Rubin as saying the Clinton administration will not accept anything short of complete withdrawl by Yugoslav forces in Kosovo, an end to the ethnic violence there, broad Albanian autonomy in Kosovo, and a return of refugees. The story also reports that Yugoslav Deputy Foreign Minister Nebojsa Vujovic said his country’s place in the settlement talks is more important than the constitution of the peacekeeping force.

At least there was a clear winner in one big story, fronted by the LAT. Susan Lucci, who had been nominated 18 times previously for a Daytime Emmy for best actress in a drama series finally won this year. The host of The Price Is Right, Bob “Come on Down!” Barker, was a winner too; he received a lifetime achievement award. By accepting it, he ended a two-year boycott of the awards show, motivated by the off-camera presentation of a major game show award.