Today's Papers

Who Screwed Up?

All three papers lead with NATO’s explanation for destroying the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Intelligence analysts mistook the embassy for the headquarters of a Serb arms ministry. That is, warplanes bombed the coordinates they were given, but the similarly-sized building that military planners meant to destroy was in fact several hundred yards away.

The New York Times is the only paper to report that the CIA was responsible for providing the faulty location, possibly because it was using outdated maps. The NYT adds that the Serb arms facility and the Chinese embassy have been around for “several years,” implying that the mistake was exceptionally careless. A Washington Postarticle reveals that the Pentagon has a 3,000-person agency whose entire job is producing up-to-date maps, though the piece doesn’t say anything about this agency’s relationship with the CIA.

Violent anti-U.S. protests in China continued on Saturday. The U.S. embassy in Beijing was stoned, and Chinese police did nothing to stop the angry mob. A consulate in Chengdu was set on fire by another angry mob. The WP reports that Chinese media outlets are unanimous in their belief that the attack was intentional. One Party newspaper says that China “reserves the right to take further action” in the matter.

A Pentagon spokesman replies that these sort of mistakes are inevitable, and the WP adds that they are increasingly likely after one month of bombing, since all the easy targets, such as tall radio towers in rural locations, have been destroyed already. President Clinton stressed that the real villain in all this is Milosevic, who is responsible for the violence in Kosovo that precipitated the NATO air raids. One Clinton administration source tells the NYT that the mistake might actually hasten a diplomatic solution, since it highlights the reasons why peace is in everyone’s interest.

On the domestic front, the Citadel–a state-supported military college in South Carolina–has produced its first female graduate. The Citadel admitted a female cadet named Shannon Faulkner in 1995 following a federal court order, but she dropped out shortly thereafter. The woman who graduated this Saturday, Nancy Mace, entered the Citadel with three other women, but two dropped out, and the third has yet to graduate. And in Oklahoma, President Clinton promised to help victims of the recent tornadoes.

The NYT reports that the Lemba–an ethnic group in Southern Africa that practices Judaic rites such as circumcision and claims ancestry from a Judean tribe–are in fact Jewish. Several ethnic groups practice similar rites, but scientists have established that a significant percentage of Lemba males carry genetic markers found exclusively among the so-called cohanim, Jewish priests supposedly descended from Aaron.

A NYT Week in Review piece explains why foreign journalists are treated like royalty in Montenegro, and are provided with unparalleled access to government officials. The country’s political leadership wants to show NATO that Montenegro is not cooperating with Serbia, even though both republics are technically one political unit, the country of Yugoslavia.

The WP magazine has a deliciously passive-aggressive essay–”The Scarlet E-mail“–by a man who receives, from the wife of an acquaintance, an electronic billets doux clearly intended for a third party. One month later he receives another. Tortured by his unwilling complicity, he chronicles his decision not to snitch, nevermind that his essay contains sufficient detail to nail the guilty party. The author ends the article by publishing his e-mail address.

The WP also reports that an FCC employee mistakenly sent a off-color joke entitled “Nuns in Heaven” to 6,000 bureaucrats and journalists signed up for a daily update on FCC actions.