Everybody leads with the bombing of China’s Belgrade embassy. The Los Angeles Times late edition relays a report that two people were killed in the incident and more than 20 were injured. A statement from Beijing called the strike a “barbarian act” and “a brutal violation of China’s sovereignty.” As the New York Times and LAT report, the embassy was near a television station which was likely NATO’s target. All papers speculate about how this mistake will impact diplomatic progress given China’s ability to veto anything NATO might want to push through the UN Security Council. NATO took responsibility for a stray attack in another Serb town, where more than a dozen civilians were killed by cluster bombs intended for nearby bunkers and a military airstrip.
All papers fill in some blanks from the G-8 resolution reported upon yesterday. The NYT provides the best clarification of the U.S. position – NATO must comprise the core of the envisioned peacekeeping force, as in the Bosnia. The Washington Post reports on the UN Secretary General’s attempt to create a central role for himself in the resolution of the crisis. But NATO wants the UN’s blessing, not its meddling. According to the Post, Albright told Annan that he could not negotiate for NATO. Though the paper notes that the refugees are reluctant to trust UN peacekeepers, no paper makes the source of mistrust clear: blue-helmets stood by while approximately 7,000 Bosnian Muslims were massacred in the UN-protected Srebrenica during the summer of 1995.
The KLA continues to demand the complete withdrawal of Serb forces and expressed reluctance towards any settlement that would guarantee Yugoslavia continued sovereignty over Kosovo. All papers note that, urged by France, NATO has backed away from using force to enforce an oil embargo against Yugoslavia.
The Post reveals that as a result of secret negotiations with the White House two prominent gun industry groups will support five of Clinton’s gun control proposals. These include: (1) raising to 21 the minimum age for purchasing handguns; (2) holding parents criminally responsible for allowing kids to access guns; and (3) requiring background checks at gun shows. This signals a widening breach between the trade groups and the N.R.A., which is an association of gun owners. The Post attributes the change of heart to liability concerns and image problems in the wake of Littleton.
A jury found the “Jenny Jones” show guilty of negligence and awarded $25 million to the family of a man murdered by a fellow guest (who producers ambushed with the gay victim’s declaration of his affection.) The LAT and the Post front the story, emphasizing the entertainment industry’s reaction. The NYT offers the perspective of gay groups who were offended that the plaintiff’s blamed the talk show rather than the apparently homophobic murderer. According to the paper, a local station broke into a “Jenny” show to announce the verdict, but returned in time to broadcast a guest telling an audience member that she looked “like a 45-year-old hooker.”
Paula Jones’s attorneys are seeking $500,000 pursuant to a judicial order requiring Clinton to pay “reasonable” expenses incurred as a result of his false testimony in her sexual harassment case. The Post reports, the lawyers warned in their filing that if the president objected, they would present “voluminous evidence” of “other contemptuous conduct perpetrated by Clinton.” All papers cover the mistrial, due to jury deadlock, of the independent prosecutor’s perjury and obstruction of justice case against Julie Hiatt Steele.
China’s nuclear arsenal is relatively anemic, according to a LAT front-page exclusive. The article seems to be sourced by an administration-friendly official, in an attempt to inoculate the White House against the anticipated release of the Cox committee report on Chinese espionage. According to the unnamed U.S. official, the document which ignited the controversy contains information about the nuclear programs of Britain, France, and Russia, as well as classified (but previously published) information about U.S. warheads other than the W-88.
The LAT fronts a story on the near all time low jobless rate, emphasizing the perception of financial markets. Although the NYT covers this ground in its business section, it emphasizes the social impact of the unemployment numbers, including rising wages for poor people and greater economic inclusion for minorities.
A front-page Post feature records Yeltsin’s latest bizarre outburst. To quote: “No one - just let Clinton, a little bit, accidentally, send a missile.” Kremlin officials asked pool cameramen not to broadcast Yeltsin’s disjointed tirade, which has heightened concerns about his well-being. Reuters also chose not to run with the ramble. Its chief Moscow correspondent explained: “Our view was that these were not newsworthy comments in the sense that they were scarcely coherent.”