Today's Papers

Coke Isn’t It

The Los Angeles Times leads with the call by the governing body of Serbia’s dominant church for Slobodan Milosevic to resign, a story also fronted by the New York Times. USA Today’s lead mentions the church call, but emphasizes instead the Yugoslav army’s compliance with NATO’s Tuesday deadline for leaving southern Kosovo. The NYT goes with the first on-the-ground confirmations by journalists of the Serbs’ vicious campaign against Kosovo’s Albanians. The paper says the region’s gravesites, burned homes, toppled minarets, and smashed shops confirmed–“often with uncanny precision”–refugees’ previously reported accounts of abuse and murder. The Washington Post off-leads this story, eclipsing it with a lead about the House’s approval yesterday of a $57 billion package of spending on airports and air traffic control, a spending increase, the paper says, that could undermine GOP hopes of delivering a tax cut.

The NYT notes that the Orthodox Church’s resignation call comes at a time when Milosevic is actively currying public support, even to the point of making his first public appearance tour in nearly two years. And the LAT makes it clear that the Church has political clout–when it supported pro-democracy demonstrations more than two years ago, Milosevic was forced to respond by recognizing opposition gains in local elections. In addition, both Times report, the Serbian Radical Party quit Milosevic’s ruling coalition, costing him his majority in Parliament. And in general, says the NYT, Serb politicians are becoming more outspoken in their comments about Milosevic. The NYT explains that his term ends next year and he is not permitted another term as president anyway. Changing the rules, the paper continues, may be out of the question because much of his power base was in Kosovo, which, with its sudden absence of Serbs, he can no longer count on.

None of the fronts report on Bill Clinton’s activities. It takes an inside story at the WP to inform that he will be making a speech today before the International Labor Organization endorsing the immediate elimination of the worst forms of child labor. According to ILO stats, some 250 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are “economically active,” half of them full time. In another story, the Post runs some numbers from the Amnesty International annual report: In China last year, 200,000 people were imprisoned without trial and 3,500 were executed, mostly for petty crimes.

The WP runs an inside story reporting on Bill Gates testifying yesterday before a Senate hearing. The story leads off mentioning that Gates is a former congressional page (in 1972). And it sees anti-monopoly spin in the detail that the sentence in Gates’ prepared remarks that reads “We are working hard to develop software that makes computers easier to use,” was replaced in his actual testimony with, “Microsoft and thousands of other companies are working…” The Wall Street Journal inside story on Gates calls his D.C. appearance a “triumph for Republicans,” who have “benefited from large political contributions by Microsoft” in the year since the government’s anti-trust suit was filed. (And the Democrats haven’t? The Journal should have compared the support Microsoft has provided the two parties.) The NYT inside piece says Gates’ once-sharp barbs about Washington lawmakers have now been replaced with deferential comments.

Business briefs: The WSJ reports that is buying a 1.7 percent stake in venerable auction house Sotheby’s. Object: an online auction service in stuff that’s not your uncle’s 1968 Marv Throneberry card. In the wake of Coke-related illnesses affecting dozens of people, the NYT and USAT report that the governments of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands have banned Coke from their nation’s shelves. This is the largest product recall in the company’s history. The NYT reports that the self-described world’s biggest pornographic Web site claims to have offered to buy the eight Caesars casinos for $3.6 billion. The paper says the current owners did not receive any such bid. But even if this isn’t true, it raises something to think about–if porn web sites are as financially successful as everybody says, it’s only a matter of time before they become major financial players, right?

The NYT editorial page says of the George W. phenomenon: “At this point, the Governor of Texas had been campaigning for President for approximately 40 hours, and appeared to have pretty much wrapped up the Republican nomination.” And Maureen Dowd launches this missile: “Al Gore is so feminized and diversified and ecologically correct, he’s practically lactating.” The Times op-ed page should just admit that Dowd is the only one at their party who is consistently funny, and quit trying to bring in outsiders for laughs. The page has a fabulous neutralizing effect–it has regularly made Steve Martin unfunny. Today it sobers up Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, with a laugh-free nothing about jinxing his favorite sports teams.

The WP reports that Rep. Mark Foley called a news conference yesterday to point out a list of books and movies that would be banned under fellow Republican Rep. Henry Hyde’s proposal for what minors can read or see. The list includes: Dante’s Inferno (depicts torture), Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey (depicts sadism), Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum (depicts torture), and Hansel and Gretel (depicts sadism). Hey, and don’t forget the Starr Report.