Today's Papers


The Los Angeles Times and Washington Post lead with the situation in East Timor, where militias closely associated with the military and police forces of Indonesia are routing the largely pro-secessionist populace. The New York Times leads instead with the decision by Israel’s Supreme Court to ban the use of physical coercion in the interrogation of Palestinian prisoners, a story that the LAT and WP front. The NYT puts its on-the-ground East Timor dispatch inside, although it fronts a report that at the United Nations, there is gathering sentiment favoring sending in a multinational military force, most likely to be led by Australia, to re-establish order. The Post and LAT include some details about this in their leads. USA Today runs East Timor deep inside and leads with Al Gore’s to-be-released-today health-care proposal, based on a weekend interview with the paper. All in all, a pretty slow news day: Both the NYT and LAT run front-page pictures of Allen Funt to flag the Candid Camera creator’s obit inside.

The papers agree that Monday in East Timor, anti-independence gangs took control, forcing the United Nations to evacuate half its staff, running off the region’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning bishop, shooting up the Australian ambassador’s residence, burning homes, and shooting and terrorizing the general populace. The LAT says 200 or more have been killed and thousands of residents have fled. The papers agree that Indonesian army and police units have been actively and directly involved in the terror. What is less clear is whether this was orchestrated from the highest levels of the Indonesian government or rather was the more spontaneous expression of officers’ personal sentiments. The WP’s Keith Richburg quotes diplomats and military analysts as saying that thousands of East Timorese members of Indonesian forces have deserted their units and joined the militias, and even cites some unconfirmed reports of soldiers firing on soldiers.

All the accounts of a possible U.N.-approved military response stress that the deployment of such a force is being viewed by diplomats as possible only in the unlikely event that Indonesia consents. Indeed, notes the NYT, Indonesia has been so defiant of international opinion that it has allowed/perpetrated the violence in East Timor even while being dependent on billions of dollars in outside aid to recover from its economic collapse.

Vice President Gore tells USAT that today in a speech he will unveil a health-care proposal that promises to provide affordable coverage by 2005 for the nation’s nearly 11 million currently uninsured children. But Gore declines to give the paper any of the details. Gore shows a similar gift for information-free discourse in his comment on the FALN clemency controversy, quoted in the WP: “The proper course of action is to wait to review the analysis now underway that will be presented to the White House later this week and I’ll defer judgment until that time.”

Both the NYT and the WP report that a new study concludes that Americans lead the industrialized world in hours worked and in productivity. According to the stories, over the past 15 years, Japanese and American workers have essentially changed places work-wise. And the Wall Street Journal reports that General Motors and DaimlerChrysler are offering to expand job-security protections to UAW members to the point where many (those with 10 years on the job already) would have lifetime job security against outsourcing or job streamlining.

The WP op-ed page has Henry Kissinger giving Bill Clinton advice about how to improve U.S. relations with China. Kissinger’s advice includes remembering that human-rights concerns “need to be brought into some relationship with other objectives of American foreign policy. And the experiences of Haiti, Somalia and today in Kosovo should inspire some caution about how easy it is to impose our values.” How good then for Anthony Lewis, over on the NYT op-ed page, to recall Kissinger’s reaction when, in 1975, it was pointed out to him that Indonesia used U.S. weapons to invade East Timor. “[H]ow,” Lewis quotes Kissinger, “can it be in the U.S. national interest for us to … kick the Indonesians in the teeth?”

The NYT reports that during an appearance at an elementary school to publicize his pitch to Congress to fund school construction and modernization, Bill Clinton used an electric screwdriver and admitted he’d never even seen one before. Oddly, the paper doesn’t remind the reader of a similar episode during the 1992 election when it was apparent George Bush had never before seen a supermarket check-out product scanner.

The WP reports that yesterday Muammar Qaddafi introduced to the world press a project he’s been working on in secret for some time: a five-passenger car called the “Rocket of the Jamahiriya.” This is, the press was told, Qaddafi’s personal contribution to world peace.