Today's Papers

Defrock You!

The Washington Post and New York Times lead with disagreements among NATO member countries about the possible use of ground troops in the war against Yugoslavia. The Los Angeles Times goes with the Clinton administration’s decision to adopt looser immigration rules for Guatemalan and Salvadoran refugees who came to the U.S. during the civil wars raging in those countries in the 1980s. The big change: whereas previously applicants from the two countries had the burden of demonstrating that they would suffer extreme hardship if they returned home, this will now be assumed. The revision will mean legal residency, explains the paper, for as many as 500,000 people from the two countries, perhaps half of them living in Southern California. USA Today leads with a new Clinton administration plan to reduce school violence. The main provisions: requiring schools to send an annual violence report card to parents, tighter procedures governing the return to school of students expelled for carrying guns (more than 6,000 in 96-97, says the paper), and expanding federally supported drug education programs to include issues involving guns. And in its “talker” position above the lead, USAT puts a story carried inside by everybody else: That Florida woman paralyzed when shot by her mother died Wednesday when at her request she was taken off life support, and prosecutors said as a result they planned to charge the mother with murder.

Most prominent in the WP and NYT leads: German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s declaration that his country would block NATO from fighting a land war (which can happen because all NATO war decisions must be unanimous). Both papers explain the domestic political angle behind his statement: his ruling coalition partner, the Green Party, has vocally opposed the bombing. The development leaves NATO with three distinct positions on ground force use: Germany’s (No), England’s (Yes) and the U.S.’ (Maybe). Editorials at both the WP and NYT urge NATO to prepare for the possible use of ground troops.

The WP lead and a separate LAT front-pager report that Yugoslav opposition to Slobodan Milosevic is becoming apparent, with military desertions on the rise. The Post and Wall Street Journal say U.S. government officials claim “more than 500” soldiers have deserted recently in Kosovo. The LAT says the U.S. claim is “as many as 1,000.”

The WSJ reports that yesterday the State Department showed videotape and surveillance photos taken last month that it says prove Serbs massacred a group of Kosovar Albanians. State views the film as evidence of war crimes and will turn it over to an international tribunal.

The WP off-lead claims that friends and political associates of Hillary Rodham Clinton think it’s a “virtual certainty” that she’ll run for the Senate in New York next year. The Post’s “The Reliable Source” states that advisers are telling the First Family to vacation in New York state this summer.

The NYT front and an inside story at the WP report that a document taken from secret Guatemalan military files that will be released today in Washington contains minute details about the kidnappings, torture, and executions of leftists undertaken by a special military death squad. It will be interesting to see if the press, armed with these fresh findings, turns up the heat on this long-dead story.

According to the WSJ, the soon-to-be-released congressional report on China’s penetration of American military secrets will reveal that areas of compromise will include not just nuclear warhead design and the neutron bomb, but also missile guidance and a revolutionary if still unproven technology for a “rail gun,” an artillery piece that uses electromagnetic pulses instead of gunpowder and which potentially could pierce any known type of armor.

Fans of the epicyclic rather than the epic in politics will be delighted to learn from today’s NYT that after it was claimed on a TV show last week that Cody Shearer, the brother-in-law of State Department honcho Strobe Talbott, had tried to intimidate Kathleen Willey out of going public with her charges of being groped by President Clinton, Shearer reported to District of Columbia police that an intruder broke into his garage, slashed his tires, and waved a handgun at two of his house guests. Via the license plate of the intruder’s car, the incident has been traced to Hank Buchanan, a brother of presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. The paper reports that Hank Buchanan will surrender to the police today.

The WP’s Robert Kaiser runs an interview with Mikhail Gorbachev, who comes out against NATO’s Kosovo campaign and lays it at the feet of Bill Clinton’s psyche. “If the president got so nervous–if he is so vulnerable to psychological moods and depression–then he should submit his resignation.”

Both the NYT and WP pass along a Boston Globe report about why the dean of the Harvard Divinity School, Ronald F. Thiemann, stepped down last November. It seems that when the memory of his university-supplied personal computer was being worked on, several university computer techies saw that pornographic images were stored on his computer. The divinity school rules prohibit the personal use of university computers outside the school’s educational mission and ban the introduction of material that is “inappropriate, obscene, bigoted or abusive.” Especially given that the WP quotes a source saying that the material was “mainstream” and “not illegal,” doesn’t this rule go too far? University provision of computers and other office equipment is a form of personal compensation and as such the university role is trumped by the personal one, just as it would be in the case of salary. No one would argue that an academic’s purchase of a legal porno tape is grounds for dismissal even though the money used to do so comes from the university. But if zealousness about computer purity is going to take the Harvard route, academics have only one effective defense: turn down the perks and instead insist on cash.