Today's Papers

GOP Ames for White House

The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times lead with Gov. George W. Bush’s victory in the Iowa Straw Poll.  Nearly 25,000 voting Iowans descended on Ames for a day of food, entertainment, and politics that, according to the LAT, confirmed most expectations about the Republican presidential race. The New York Times, which also fronts Iowa, leads instead with a report that patients slighted by HMOs are having greater success bringing their grievances to court. The WP fronts President Clinton’s announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency will demand that states intensify efforts to combat water pollution. The LAT runs two follow-up stories to last week’s Jewish community center shooting. The first sets the diversity of the medical team that saved Benjamin Kadish against the alleged gunman’s racism; a sidebar reports heated debate over whether or not the federal government should confront extremists more aggressively. 

Bush took 31 percent of the mock votes cast at the Iowa State University basketball arena, followed by Steve Forbes with 21 percent, and Elizabeth Dole with 14 percent. Places four through nine went respectively to Gary Bauer, Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, Dan Quayle, Alan Keyes, and Sen. Orrin Hatch.  Bush’s less than overwhelming margin of victory in the mock election does not reflect current opinion polls elsewhere: The NYT reports that Bush led a New Hampshire poll 40 percent to Sen. John McCain’s 10 percent. Forbes outspent everyone ($2 million), hoping to emerge from Ames as Bush’s sole competitor, according to the WP . All three papers note that Dole’s solid finish beat back fears that her candidacy might not survive a poorer showing. The WP article mentions twice that Bush delivered a recycled speech. Sen. John McCain, who dismissed the event as a “sham,” will concentrate instead on California and New Hampshire in coming weeks, the NYT reports in its “Political Briefing” column.

The NYT lead suggests that members of HMOs are beginning to have greater success suing for medical malpractice. Over the last 20 months, judges have started to let patients sue, but not for punitive damages–only for the value of the denied benefits. Attorneys have found ways to sidestep a 1974 law that shields the organizations from liability for their decisions. A recent Senate bill granting protections to some HMO members awaits a presidential veto. 

Clinton announced yesterday that the EPA will force states to clean up 20,000 rivers, lakes, and bays currently too dirty to swim or fish in, the Post and the NYT report.  State regulators will determine the level to which pollution must be reduced in a body of water and then assign quotas to individual polluters. The latter would then have to cut back emissions or buy discharge rights from someone polluting below allowed level.

The LAT continues its detailed coverage of atrocities in Kosovo with a report that some Kosovars may be waging an organized ethnic cleansing campaign.  Citing local and Western sources, the paper says that patterns have emerged in vandalism, threats made to Serbs, and execution-style killings.  The NYT reports that NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo are stepping up their campaign to disarm and perhaps dismantle the Kosovo Liberation Army. 

The NYT and the WP front obituaries of Lane Kirkland, former president of the AFL-CIO,  who died of lung cancer at the age of 77. Kirkland expanded the labor federation’s influence abroad (for example, by sending money and equipment to Poland’s Solidarity movement), but is said to have neglected domestic issues, the NYT reports.

The NYT Magazine runs its second Russian-related cover story of the summer.  John Lloyd explores political fallout in Washington (and on the presidential campaign trail) from botched Western policy initiatives undertaken in post-Soviet Russia.  Bush’s top foreign-policy specialist faults the Clinton-Gore administration with clinging to Russian reformers’ empty rhetoric. The Bush camp will propose that the U.S. step away from Russian internal affairs. Robert Kaiser also plays the blame game in the WP: He asks if U.S. dependence on Yeltsin jeopardized the nation’s relationship to Russia.

The NYT and the WP run front-page accounts of grotesque mistreatment of children abroad.  The former paper says that in Japan, reported cases of child abuse are rising against a backdrop of record unemployment and increasing divorce and remarriage rates. Legislators may scale back laws that give families significant autonomy and power. A WP front-pager peeks inside Russian orphanages for the mentally disabled–or “Gulags for the Children.” The piece details the nightmarish conditions under which children in these borderline institutions live.

D’oh!:  If owners get their way, the grounds of the defunct Trojan nuclear plant in Rainier, Ore., may become a new state park, according to an AP story in the Post. The plant is thought by many locals to be the inspiration for Homer Simpson’s workplace  because of its proximity to Matt Groening’s hometown.  (The show denies a link.) Despite hundreds of acres of woods and rich wildlife, skeptics wonder who would feel safe enough to camp there.  Link or no link, maybe the skeptics will find comfort in that the Simpsons have lived near an unsafe plant for so long without any adverse effects on their health.