Today's Papers

Serbs Them Right

USA Today

, the Washington Post, and New York Times lead with a signed agreement among the allies and Russia concerning Kosovo. This is also the top non-local story at the Los Angeles Times. Everybody reports that immediately after the signing, NATO and Yugoslav military officers went back into face-to-face implementation talks, raising expectations of a cease-fire soon. But the USAT headline, “KOSOVO PACT READY TO SIGN,” is a bit over the top, given that the Yugoslav government hasn’t commented on it, and the U.N. Security Council hasn’t endorsed it. But the latter could come soon: The LAT, making use of its later press close, reports that the Security Council took up the plan last night, but China quickly objected to some of its provisions (the paper doesn’t say which, but it should have) and the debate was adjourned.

The accord basically reiterates the deal reached between NATO and Yugoslavia last week, with added special care being applied to the previous showstopper of whether or not Russia could be part of the peacekeeping force but avoid taking orders from NATO. An example of the agreement’s diplomatic finesse on the issue: The WP notes that the document doesn’t mention NATO in the body text, but only in the appendix. And, according to the LAT, the agreement says the peacekeeping force commander will send reports to the Security Council, a detail which apparently encouraged the Russians to sign on, but the paper goes on to quote a senior U.S. official as saying that “These are reports, not reporting.”

But the papers say there are still sticking points. For instance, the NYT reports, Yugoslavia has suggested that it will be in charge of the readmission of refugees back into Kosovar, which the U.S. has said is absolutely unacceptable. But on the other hand: 1) everybody reports that the Serbs have been detected mobilizing vehicles in a way that looks like a preparation to withdraw, and 2) Serb forces are really paying a price for the implementation delay, with hundreds of soldiers, the papers say, being killed yesterday by B-52s. The WP says cluster bombs were used against them, and the LAT describes the action as a carpet-bombing. The NYT quotes the British foreign secretary saying that he expects Serb withdrawal and a bombing halt within “the next few days.” The Wall Street Journal says that the agreement enacts a bombing halt after the Serbs have met a specific quota of troops withdrawn.

The NYT, WP, and LAT each front the jury verdicts in the Abner Louima police brutality case: One police officer found guilty of holding Louima down while another sodomized him with a stick, two others acquitted of beating him in a patrol car, and another acquitted of charges that he covered up that beating. The Post gets low marks for summing all this up in its headline: “TWO OFFICERS ACQUITTED IN N.Y. BEATING.”

The two Times and the Post front the announcement yesterday that the nation’s movie theater owners, in a post-Littleton move applauded by President Clinton, will begin asking teen-agers unaccompanied by an adult to present picture ID to get into R movies. The stories contain expressions of doubt about the reform’s effectiveness because of the ability of theatergoers to go from one movie to another once inside multiplexes. USAT runs the story inside.

The papers make much of C. Everett Koop’s emergence as an Internet millionaire via the successful IPO of a health information Web site he’s involved with. But a nice free piece of medical advice is available today in the “letters” section of the NYT. A doctor writes to recommend a simple technique he uses to cut down on prescription errors by pharmacies, a growing problem the Times recently covered. When he issues a new medication, he writes its name and dosage on a piece of paper separate from the prescription slip and gives it to the patient, who then has an independent way to spot-check the accuracy of his filled prescription.

The WSJ “Tax Report” notes that new IRS regulations make it easier for people to get financial information about many tax-exempt organizations, such as colleges, hospitals, and publicly supported charities. Whereas the old rules meant paperwork had to be available for “inspection” at their offices, the new ones mandate providing copies that can go off-site. Today’s Papers suggests you take advantage by requesting, for example, your hospital to itemize that knee operation’s cost or by asking your kid’s college to show just how much those grad students make that teach all his classes. But wait until after you’ve had the operation and after the kid’s gotten in.