Due to topsy-turvy and late-breaking developments, today’s papers have a hard time keeping up with the ins and outs in Kosovo. The Los Angeles Times leads with a report on NATO’s entry into the Yugoslav province. The New York Times goes with Russia’s push into Kosovo, which unexpectedly preceded NATO’s.
The Washington Post leads with a story on the thousands of Serbs who are fleeing Kosovo in fear of reprisals from returning refugees and the KLA. The Post notes the symmetry between this exodus and the flight of ethnic Albanians that began months ago. But the paper points out differences: Serbs are leaving voluntarily and have the luxury of taking personal possessions.
The mass departure is clogging the roads by which the Serb military is exiting. Nevertheless, Serb police took the time to torch dozens of Albanian houses as they departed. The Post reports that soldiers departed by truck, bus and civilian cars, which were apparently stolen from ethnic Albanians. The LAT says some military vehicles appeared laden with loot, including kitchen appliances and carpets.
An armored convoy of several hundred Russian soldiers rolled into Pristina just hours after Moscow vowed not to send in troops until NATO gave them the green light, according to the NYT. The troops, who had been stationed in Bosnia, arrived in the Kosovar capital less than two hours before British paratroopers seized the high ground surrounding the city. High-ranking Yugoslav officials traveled to Pristina and joined Serb crowds in joyously greeting the Russians. The LAT says the event was a choreographed propaganda ploy staged to offset the appearance of utter capitulation, which would have arisen had NATO been first to town.
NATO fears that the early entry was an attempt to seize a separate peacekeeping sector, which the alliance opposes because it might lead to partitioning the province. The NYT points out that the Russian move may discourage refugees from returning, which could have been Belgrade’s intention. The LAT says the early entry will force NATO to reach an accommodation on Russian peacekeeping participation.
Whether the early entry was the action of rogue military commanders or engineered by Moscow is still unknown. Foreign Minister Igor Iganov claimed that the troops were not authorized to enter and have been ordered to leave. Russian military officials appear to be conducting their own foreign policy, according to a front-page Times analysis. Yesterday a senior general threatened that Russia might unilaterally send in troops and Yeltsin’s spokesman was initially unaware of Russian troop movements.
The LAT and the NYT offer sketchy reports on the NATO deployment. As of Friday, NATO had assembled 19,300 troops in Macedonia and 7,300 in Albania. The Post claims that NATO’s deployment was delayed until Saturday because of political pressure from the Clinton administration. But later in the same story, it claims that the White House tried to convince NATO to send in troops on Friday. An FBI team of forensic specialists will rush into Kosovo this weekend, according to the NYT. Their mission is to assist in the investigation of war crimes.
A front-page LAT exclusive reveals that America’s schools are resegregating, according to study being released Monday. Nearly 70 percent of blacks and 75 percent of Latinos attend predominately black, Latino, or Native American schools. Schools serving these students are more likely to be poor and overcrowded, and less likely to send a large percentage of graduates to college.
A front-page Post story declares the start of Campaign 2000. Today Gov. George W. Bush takes his show on the road to Iowa and then will wend his way to New Hampshire. On Wednesday the vice president will launch his candidacy from his home in Carthage, Tenn. The paper calls Bush-Gore week “the political equivalent of High Noon.” Bush intends to introduce himself to voters slowly by stumping on his “priorities,” “principles,” “core values,” and vision of leadership. Gore intends to define himself by addressing issues.
President Clinton gave some advice to congressional Republicans: “lighten up.” The chief executive said that the better the country does, the madder Republicans get. According to the NYT, the president suggested in an interview that Republicans are frustrated “at not owning the White House” and its surrounding parking spaces. His words of consolation: “They ought to just relax and realize I’m a temporary tenant.”
No matter what is wrong with you there is probably a self-help group that will provide 12 steps to a cure, according to a front-page LAT feature. Among the 800 kinds of groups: Clutterers Anonymous, Procrastinators Anonymous, Mistresses Anonymous, and Fear of Success Anonymous. Support groups have coalesced around even the most obscure tribulations. California harbors a society to help people overcome urophobia–the fear of urinating in public restrooms.