Today's Papers

Revisions and a Revelation

The New York Times again leads with a story on nobody else’s front. Attorney General Janet Reno has approved and sent to the White House a governmentwide FBI review (spurred by suspicions that China’s been pilfering nuclear information for 20 years) that proposes, among other things, to divide the national security division in two parts: anti-terrorism and anti-spying. When the Cold War ended, the report says, “American intelligence agencies increasingly focused on fighting terrorism, believing that espionage would become less of a threat.” The proposal is “expected to lead to an overhaul of all counterintelligence efforts,” says the Times, and marks the first time the FBI, the CIA, and the Pentagon have joined forces to assess espionage threats. In its 22nd paragraph, the piece notes that the first senior government official to resign since the investigation into Chinese spying charges began did so on Friday–Assistant Secretary of Energy Victor Reis.

Three days before its planned unveiling, the President kiboshed his proposal to charge America’s elderly for health care according to their income, reports the Washington Post in its lead. The Post gives us the Hill-speak for this method of charging relative to wealth: “means testing.” Clinton dropped it after aides could find no support for it from representatives of either party. The White House doesn’t have a new plan for saving the $3 billion-$10 billion means testing would have trimmed, says the piece; neither, it seems, does anyone on the Hill. But the Medicare system, created in 1965, will “soon face enormous financial pressures” as boomers start retiring.

The Los Angeles Times’ lead reports a different health-care angle. Next week, Clinton will propose that the government pay part of the cost for prescription drugs needed by aging Medicare recipients who agree to pay an additional fee of up to $45 a month (described in yesterday’s USA Today lead as $20-$90 a month) with no deductible. Congressional Democrats and Republicans like the plan. The piece points out that drugs are much more important now than they were when Medicare began because they “help keep people out of the hospital” by alleviating pain and discomfort.

Which brings us to an excellent letter printed in the Post from Michael Faenza, the president and CEO of the National Mental Health Association. He writes: “Lost in the discussion of premium rate increases is the cost to the nation of not providing mental health benefits on par with physical health benefits.” He mentions depression as an example; others include anorexia nervosa and schizophrenia.

Both Times front Kosovo news. Albanian refugees flooding back into Kosovo–the NYT says 300,000 returned since the accord two weeks ago–are straitening the capabilities of the NATO-led peacekeeping force. The LAT notes that 14 people were killed in 24 hours on Thursday; the NYT says 24 civilian deaths in the past few days. The NYT piece also says that NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark has called for the help of an international police force; the UN is planning to send a police force of 3,000 civilians, but not for three months.

The Post goes top-left with a story about the original copy of the Nuremberg Laws–the “Nazi code of racial discrimination against Jews” that stripped Jews of German citizenship, prohibited marriage and sexual intercourse between Jews and Germans, and forbade Jews to fly the German flag and have German domestic help. They’ve been hidden, along with a rare edition of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, in the Huntington Library in Pasadena, Calif., since 1945, when Gen. George Patton gave them to his friends the Huntingtons. It seems the only reason the documents have been hidden for so long is that Patton said something about putting them in the vault when he handed them over, though there were “no formal restrictions on showing them”–a curiously weak reason that such important papers were buried without almost anyone’s knowledge for 54 years. They’re scheduled to be displayed Monday at the Jewish Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

The story’s also fronted by the LAT, which has a different but equally mild primary explanation about why the papers were hidden so long: “They do not fit the library’s focus,” says its president. A UCLA history professor’s quote incarnates the evil importance of the Nuremberg laws; they “determined who would live and who would die.”

Related is a piece in the NYT business section noting that, after about 10 years of debate, “the German Parliament approved a plan Friday for the building of a vast memorial in the heart of [Berlin] to the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.”

Another related Times piece asks, “Can a writer who thinks the Holocaust was a hoax still be a great historian?” It’s about English historian David Irving, who (though respected–if grudgingly–by many historians for his extensive knowledge of the Nazis) firmly believes there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz.