Today's Papers

Technical Difficulties

The Washington Post leads with the news that the Board of Immigration Appeals has ruled a “foreign woman fleeing a violently abusive spouse cannot gain asylum in the United States even if she faces a direct and serious threat of harm in her home country.” The decision came in the case of 33-year-old Rodi Pena who fled to the United States after Guatemalan police and courts told her domestic abuse was a private issue. The Board found she had not “suffered persecution under any of the five categories enumerated under international and U.S. law: race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group” after an immigration judge granted her asylum in 1996. Board dissenters said not recognizing Guatemalan domestic abuse victims as a social group conflicts with U.S. law and the U.S. must protect those threatened with harm because of some fundamental aspect of their identity.

NATO reached tentative agreement with the Kosovo Liberation Army, the New York Times leads. Unidentified rebel commanders negotiated with NATO, led by British Brig. Gen. Jonathan Bailey. The agreement hasn’t yet been signed and may be difficult to implement because the rebel leadership is precarious and fractured. The agreement has them withdrawing within four days from their fortified positions, beginning to hand over their weapons in seven days, and halting organized military activities and losing their uniforms within a month’s time when they’d start training to become a police force for the area. Meanwhile, Yugoslav forces are withdrawing ahead of schedule–though they’ve been allowed to leave behind tanks and other equipment too difficult to move. Refugees continue to return; about 25,000 did so on Friday.

A similar piece leads the Los Angeles Times but focuses on Serbian authorities’ attempt to stop thousands of Serb civilians fleeing Kosovo because of attacks by ethnic Albanian separatists–i.e., the KLA–enabled by the withdrawl. “[O]ne-fourth of as many as 200,000 Serbs in Kosovo have left since” agreement was reached; all this is hurting Milosevic politically. It also tallies the number of mass grave sites found so far by NATO: 90. Not until the 12th paragraph does it note, “NATO said it was nearing an agreement on disarming the KLA.”

A first-person account by Paul Watson, self-described as “the only North American reporter in Kosovo for most of NATO’s 78 days of airstrikes,” off-leads the Los Angeles Times. Seriously threatening his safety, Watson returned to Kosovo after Milosevic expelled all Western journalists. He says truth was the war’s first victim and describes hearing NATO spokesman Jamie Shea “denying things that I knew to be true, insisting on others that I had seen were false.” Watson credits many Serbs and ethnic Albanians who helped him, particularly Albanian Emina Berisha, who worked as his secret translator.

The NYT off-lead describes the latest in the gun debate on the Hill. President Clinton and two Democratic presidential hopefuls, Al Gore and Bill Bradley, blamed Republicans for killing the final gun-control package. The piece points out “it was mostly Democrats who killed” it because it was so moderate. Republicans, and the piece, say Democrats are going to make guns a big issue in the upcoming presidential campaign. Incidentally, Gov. George W. Bush made a bill into law on Friday preventing “local governments from suing gun manufacturers to recover damages from gun violence.” As analysts pointed out, House members, even Democrats, voted with their districts and as such aren’t likely to lose favor. A Post front story more clearly explains the politics behind the rejection of the bill–for instance, stating the bill-weakening amendment was filed by a Democrat–and has good statistics on Americans’ thoughts about the issue; e.g., up from 57 percent in 1993, 65 percent think gun control is more important than the right to bear arms. Legislative gun-control battles being waged in some states are detailed.

The Post off-lead says the Internet has shifted from a “speculative casino into a measurable force … changing nearly every corner of modern capitalism” and cites a UT study that found the Internet made “about $301 billion in U.S. revenue in 1998–closing in on the automobile industry.” This would be more meaningful if the parallel statistic for the auto industry were provided. Interesting points the piece suggests but does not raise: Is increasing reliance on computer communication – which decreases the paper generated by letters, faxes, etc.–affecting the paper industry? (And do environmental experts think it will or could have an effect on waste reduction and related issues?) TP’s also interested in employment numbers; the Internet created a plethora of new jobs, but it has also cut jobs–as mentioned in the article, buying an airline e-ticket doesn’t require an airline representative. Similarly, is the Internet making the poor poorer and the rich richer? The piece also takes a subtle jab at Gore, noting that five years ago “politicians never mentioned the medium, let alone took credit for it.”