Today's Papers

End of Jakarta Blanche?

This is a “Test” of the emergency’s  publishing system

The Washington Post and New York Times lead with President Clinton’s moves yesterday against Indonesia, designed to motivate it to clamp down on the violence ravaging East Timor or to let in an international military force (led by Australia, with the U.S. only indirectly involved, but supplying no ground troops) that will. This is also the top non-local story at the Los Angeles Times, which leads with the California state legislature being on the verge of passing an ambitious managed care reform bill that would allow patients to sue their health plans for damages, ease the access to and affordability of second opinions, and mandate coverage for mental illness. USA Today has a front-page “cover story” overview of the East Timor crisis but leads with word that congressional Republican leaders have abandoned pushing for a large tax cut, conceding that they couldn’t pass it over President Clinton’s promised veto.

Both the NYT and WP describe the deaths in East Timor of hundreds, including priests and nuns, at the hands of the militias and/or Indonesian forces. The Post says a systematic campaign of political assassination appears to be underway.

The coverage notes that President Clinton moved yesterday to terminate this year’s U.S. funding for the Indonesian military and halted the individual training contacts between officers of the two countries. Plus, say the papers, the International Monetary Fund has suspended its Indonesia lending program. President Clinton is quoted by everybody taking note of the important role that program has played in Indonesia’s attempts to overcome the Asian financial crisis: “It would be a pity if the Indonesian recovery were crashed by this. But one way or the other, it will be crashed by this if they don’t fix it, because there will be overwhelming public sentiment to stop the international economic cooperation.”

The Post and the two Times note that the U.S. military aid withdrawn isn’t much–in the ballpark of $500,000 (a point first broached yesterday by the NYT). The WP doesn’t mention the other bigger military-related connection between the two countries: arm sales to Indonesia by U.S. firms. The NYT does mention this, notes that these sales are programmed to total about $16 million in the next year, and says that the U.S. has not threatened pulling the plug on them. But the LAT says exactly the opposite: that there will be no further approvals of commercial sales of U.S. military components to Indonesia. Which is it?

The WP’s Al Kamen says Clinton national security adviser Samuel Berger has, in the course of defending U.S. non-intervention, come up with the “Inappropriate Metaphor of the Year” by saying that even though his “daughter has a very messy apartment up in college, maybe I shouldn’t intervene to have [it] cleaned up.”

The NYT off-leads the news that on Thursday George W. Bush began posting detailed information on his campaign Web site about the size and source of his campaign contributions. This is, says the paper, “unprecedented in presidential politics.” So is something else the story reports: Bush’s campaign war chest so far contains more than $49 million. The WP reports this total inside.

As reported in yesterday’s WP and LAT, the NYT says that President Clinton has introduced a $15 million program to buy back guns from private owners. The goal is to finance the efforts of local police departments to take off the streets as many as 300,000 weapons. The departments might offer besides cash: food, gift certificates, toys, or sports tickets.

The LAT fronts a new study indicating that in the next few years, the U.S. will be targeted by nuclear weapons from several countries that have never been able to do so before. The WP and NYT run this inside. The WP headline states that the countries might well include Iran and Iraq. The Post doesn’t mention until the last paragraph that the list includes China. The NYT mentions China in the first sentence, and emphasizes its potential threat throughout.

The Wall Street Journal reports an unforeseen complication for some White House staffers. President Clinton is headed to the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, a meeting of 20 nations and Hong Kong, held this year in New Zealand. It was, says the paper, carefully scheduled to avoid such national holidays as Japan’s Respect for the Elderly Day or Chile’s Army Day, but no country told schedulers about Rosh Hashanah. As a result, several Jewish Clinton aides will be aboard Air Force One as the Jewish New Year begins, not even sure when Friday at sundown is, especially since the plane is crossing the International Date Line.