Today's Papers

Mars Attacks!

USA Today

leads with President Clinton’s long-expected veto of a $792 billion Republican-sponsored tax cut bill, which is the off-lead at the Washington Post but is carried inside elsewhere–Page 22 at the Los Angeles Times. The New York Times lead is the House’s passage of a bill that would, if it became law, make it “difficult, it not impossible” to bring large class-action suits against companies such as cigarette or gun manufacturers. The bill draws scant attention elsewhere–the WP runs an AP item about it on Page 9. The LAT goes with Jakarta student street riots over a just-passed bill that has raised fears of a coup because it bestows new emergency powers on the Indonesian military. The riots are carried inside at the WP and NYT. The Post lead is what it sees as a quiet but major shift in Clinton administration Yugoslavia policy: dropping opposition to Kosovo’s independence from Yugoslavia. The story credits the change to unnamed senior U.S. officials, while quoting national security adviser Sandy Berger and State’s James Rubin as denying it. Other evidence cited: The U.S. has not resisted the adoption inside Kosovo of the German mark as the legal currency and has been supportive of a plan to allow KLA fighters to form a new protective corps for the region.

The NYT lead explains that the House bill would require most class action claims to be transferred to federal courts, where the rules about who gets to participate in the class and how such cases may proceed are more stringent. The bill, says the paper, enjoys philosophical and/or lobbying support from some of the nation’s biggest businesses and business groups. Opponents include the trial lawyers’ association and Ralph Nader, William Rehnquist, and 15 state attorneys general. The WP calls the bill’s Senate prospects uncertain, whereas according to the Times a similar bill there enjoys bipartisan support.

The LAT is the only one of the papers to front Microsoft President Steve Ballmer’s comments yesterday that U.S. tech stocks are absurdly overpriced, which prompted large sell-offs at Nasdaq and the NYSE. The LAT quotes a stock analyst’s observation that Ballmer’s timing was bizarre, coming the same day that Microsoft announced plans to sell shares of its Expedia site as a way to participate in the Internet stock trend. The story also observes another non-self-aggrandizing angle: Ballmer’s own Microsoft stock holdings went down $1.17 billion off his remarks. (By the way, would it have been illegal for Ballmer to have sold tech stocks short before making his comments?)

The LAT and NYT front NASA’s realization Thursday that the Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft has probably burned up in Mars’ atmosphere after flying too close to the planet. Both stories go high with the gizmo’s price: $125 million.

The WP fronts and USAT runs on Page 2 word that doctors have for the first time ever made a menopausal woman fertile again, by implanting her with pieces of her own ovaries, which had been previously removed and frozen. She hasn’t got pregnant yet but has ovulated and menstruated. The development, the paper explains, could be a boon to young women with cancer who want to have children after treatment is concluded. And eventually it would allow healthy young women to put up a bunch of their youthful eggs until they’re ready to have pregnancies using them later in life.

The NYT and WP both go inside with Sen. Daniel Moynihan’s endorsement of Bill Bradley. Moynihan’s primary reason for not endorsing Al Gore: that the VP can’t get elected. Both papers quote a Gore spokesman’s reaction: “I think President Bob Kerrey really appreciated his support in 1992.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that energy commodity prices soared Thursday because of OPEC’s announcement that it will keep oil production low throughout the U.S. winter. This means, say quoted analysts, that gas and utility bills could keep going up for some time.

The papers carry outraged Republican reactions to Pat Buchanan’s recent comments about Hitler, from Sen. John McCain, Elizabeth Dole, and Steve Forbes’ campaign manager. It’s noted that George W. Bush, apparently still working on his position on Buchanan (or on Hitler?), has not addressed the matter yet.

The WSJ “Washington Wire” gives an update on stances taken on the presidential clemency extended to convicted Puerto Rican terrorists: Al Gore never took a position, but that’s balanced out by Bill Bradley, who last month supported the deal, but now opposes it. (For a look at another possible Bradley switcheroo, click here.)