Everybody leads with the latest developments on the ground in Kosovo. The Washington Post and New York Times leads emphasize the quick emergence of the KLA as a force to be reckoned with by NATO. The Los Angeles Times goes with U.S. troops taking up positions guarding a suspected mass grave that could prove to be the first concrete evidence of Serb atrocities against Albanian Kosovars, a story also fronted by the WP and run inside at the NYT and Wall Street Journal. USA Today’s lead also covers this but focuses on the arrival of U.S. Marines in Kosovo. Additionally, the story says it’s not clear all Serb troops and civilians will be out of southern Kosovo by today’s NATO deadline, a point also made high in the Post lead. USAT also stresses its latest war polling results, including: By a percentage count of 53-40, Americans do not believe the outcome is a victory for the U.S. The LAT samples some of the U.S. peacekeepers as they move into position. One tells the paper, “I wish we could have gotten here sooner.”
The main problem posed by the re-emergence of the KLA, explain the Post and Times leads, is that the rebels are setting up checkpoints through which both Serb and/or NATO elements pass, and in some cities have kept their weapons, despite the cease-fire treaty’s calling for the force’s demilitarization.
The Russian troops are still at the Pristina airport, with the papers all noting that the U.S. and NATO are downplaying the problem and that Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin have continued to talk about it, as will several of their subordinates in the days ahead.
Everybody notes that yesterday, Slobodan Milosevic toured the ruins of a destroyed bridge near Belgrade and declared the start of his nation’s rebuilding effort. The WSJ convinces that Milosevic’s own career may also be in ruins with its interviews of evacuating Serb soldiers, who are less than thrilled with their president.
The NYT off-leads the news that the Supreme Court unanimously struck down the 65-year-old federal law banning broadcast advertising of casino gambling, a story that’s prominently covered all around. The Times says the decision reflects the court’s growing concern for commercial speech, and its rejection of the irrationality of banning ads for Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos while allowing them for ones run by Indian tribes. The paper explains that the decision does not rule out restrictions on advertising of other lawful products, like cigarettes.
The NYT front reports that it is “most unlikely” that Wen Ho Lee, the Los Alamos scientist suspected of stealing nuclear secrets for China, will ever face criminal charges of espionage. Principal reasons: No witnesses, no evidence of a motive, no evidence of pro-China ideology, and only circumstantial evidence that Lee stole anything. The story makes it seem that this situation is unprecedented by failing to mention the case from 10 years ago when a State Department official, Felix Bloch, had been an espionage suspect and was therefore subjected to an intense investigation, and lost his job, but was never charged as a spy.
The NYT inside story on “smart” guns, which can only be fired by their owners, cites a factor that despite the weapons’ inherent technical complications, may yet propel them to common usage: even most gun owners favor laws requiring them, which could mean something like 60 million new gun sales.
The WP fronts another “what’s the point?” excerpt from Bob Woodward’s new book. Today’s installment is about the zeal of Kenneth Starr. Something has been missing from the three excerpts from the book, on “Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate”–namely, four presidents and the legacy of Watergate.
The Post does make a Watergate reference with its headline over a story on Page 21: “Third-Rate Burglary at Dole HQ,” about how, over the past weekend, someone picked a couple of locks at Elizabeth Dole’s Exploratory Committee and made off with a laptop computer. Dole’s spokesman is quoted saying, “It appears that Vice President Gore was out of town, so we’ve crossed him off our suspect list.”