Today's Papers

White House Evasion Plans

Various war stories lead at USA Today, the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, while the New York Times goes instead with concerns in Washington and among high tech companies about competition in the communications industry prompted by AT&T’s planned acquisition of MediaOne and its apparent partnership with Microsoft as a supplier of software for the new data network AT&T is assembling. The story says that Microsoft will invest about $5 billion in AT&T, and is negotiating hard to get its Windows CE introduced as the set-top software in at least one large cable market. AT&T, says the Times, is adamant that Microsoft will not get an exclusive software arrangement. Everybody fronts pictures of the first batch of Kosovar refugees arriving in the U.S.–USAT’s shot of a smiling little girl flashing the “V” sign is a powerful foreign policy argument, perhaps the best one.

“U.S. MOURNS FIRST DEATHS IN CONFLICT,” which runs over USAT’s lead, about the death of both crew members of an Apache helicopter that went down in Albania, is probably the day’s most misleading headline. America really didn’t notice and, as the article states, hostile action was not involved–the crash was during a night training flight. The story’s solid wrap-up of war news also has President Clinton’s briefing with NATO officials in Brussels and his subsequent visit to a U.S. airbase in Germany, and refers to the refugees’ arrival in the United States, and the surprise trip to Rome of one of their political leaders, Ibrahim Rugova, who had until now remained in Yugoslavia. The Wall Street Journal refers to Rugova’s “release,” whereas the other stories make it seem that he could be going back to Yugoslavia.

The Post lead also has these developments, but gives pride of place to U.S. officials’ claim that Russia appears ready to endorse an armed military force inside Kosovo to protect Albanians there after the fighting ends. This is a shift from Russia’s previous stance of an observer-only force. (Everybody’s coverage reflects what the WSJ reported yesterday–that a force of some 50,000 NATO troops is being envisioned.) The WP detects “increased optimism among NATO governments about prospects for diplomacy.” The LAT has the Russian shift, but plays it much lower in its lead, which focuses instead on President Clinton’s NATO and airbase visits. The paper reveals that at a NATO meeting, Clinton vowed to keep the military campaign going until, in the paper’s phrase, Slobodan Milosevic “capitulates.” The LAT sees Clinton engaged in “an increasingly urgent” search for a diplomatic solution, driven, it says, by allied discomfort about how the bombing seems to have “produced more misery than progress.” The story describes Clinton as “beleaguered,” but contains no quotes from him or from aides that support this characterization.

The papers have quite a bit about security at the nation’s nuclear labs. The NYT goes high in its story on this with the revelation at a congressional hearing yesterday that scientists at the government’s weapons labs can still download nuclear secrets onto floppy disks and walk out with them without being checked. The LAT emphasizes other news from the same hearing: that spy suspect Wen Ho Lee failed an FBI polygraph in January 1984, meaning he first came under suspicion twelve years earlier than previous accounts had stated. The WP coverage of the hearings goes high with news that for a number of years, Lee’s security file, which had included the many concerns raised about him, was lost.

The NYT reports that, citing concerns about weapons ending up in the hands of narcotic gangs and guerilla groups, the Clinton administration has suspended sales of handguns to Venezuela. So at last it’s clear what ordinary U.S. citizens can do to get the federal government to protect them from the ravages of handguns: Move to Venezuela.

A story running inside at the WP reports that according to the IRS, the White House staff has the largest percentage of late tax payers in the federal government. Nearly 13.5 of them, says the paper, haven’t gotten their money in on time. This includes more than 7 percent who have either filed without paying or haven’t even filed.

USAT, the NYT, and the WSJ all report that General Motors admitted Wednesday that it had overstated Cadillac sales for last year, meaning that Lincoln was unfairly robbed of the title of best selling luxury car for 1998. Some GM employees have been given an unspecified punishment as a result. According to USAT, a Lincoln official responded: “This action by Cadillac exemplifies the integrity we’ve always said is the basis for a luxury brand.” Precisely.