Today's Papers

The Indo 180?

The Washington Post

and New York Times lead with Indonesia’s concession that an international peacekeeping force might be necessary to control the violence raging in East Timor. The Los Angeles Times leads with a pact signed by Gov. Gray Davis and 57 Indian leaders which would allow an expansion of gambling operations on California reservations; the top non-local story at the LAT is the agreement between the U.S. and Russia to co-staff a Colorado command center that would monitor “missile early-warning data,” in case the Y2K computer bug causes missile “mishaps” (read “launches”).

Both the WP and the NYT report that Indonesian armed forces chief Gen. Wiranto has bowed to international pressure to consider accepting foreign troops in East Timor. The NYT reports that it’s not clear what changed Wiranto’s mind but offers as likely possibilities the presence of a U.N. delegation sent to sway the government and Kofi Annan’s warning that continued violence could lead to charges of crimes against humanity. The WP, on the other hand, is skeptical that Wiranto has changed his mind, reporting he said that outside peacekeepers would not be welcome before the army could “calm down the situation” (no word on when or if), and that widespread anger at the U.N. “will be shown and aimed at the incoming international peacekeeping forces,” should they arrive prematurely. The WP goes on to list the Indonesian government’s “varying explanations” for the violence, including charges that the foreign press was “exaggerating the problem” and, Wiranto’s own suggestion, that the violence is the U.N.’s fault for playing a role in the independence elections in the first place.

Both papers report that in addition to the routing of the general population, the systematic killing of Roman Catholic clergymen in East Timor, who were seen to have supported independence for the country, continues. The WP fronts a nun’s first-hand account of a massacre of Catholic priests, one of the first of such graphic reports to emerge from East Timor.

The LAT lead describes the deal granting Indians exclusive rights to operate “Nevada-style” casinos, a story the NYT fronts. Lawmakers approved a constitutional amendment that would facilitate the deal. California voters are predicted to approve the amendment in March. The LAT quotes Gov. Davis as saying, “For too long California’s Indians have been denied the respect and dignity they deserve. That sad chapter in our history ends today.” Problem solved?

The LAT and the NYT front a ruling by a North Carolina judge that declares the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district officially desegregated, thereby ending the thirty-year old busing program designed to reduce segregation. The ruling represents the end of an era, and will have countrywide ramifications. According to the LAT, the 115-page ruling outlaws “assigning children to schools or allocating educational opportunities and benefits through race-based lotteries, preferences, set-asides or other means that deny students an equal footing based on race.” Both papers point out that Charlotte-Mecklenburg joins the growing list of desegregated districts, including districts in Oklahoma City, Cleveland, and Denver. According to the LAT, which provides the better overview, the Justice Department is considering desegregation orders in some 500 districts. The NYT notes that the judge, described as a former campaign worker for Jesse Helms and appointed to the bench by Reagan at Helms’ behest, collected signatures on a petition against busing back in 1969, the year the Supreme Court ordered Charlotte to desegregate (fifteen years after Brown vs. the Board of Education).

A NYT front story reports that 11 Puerto Rican nationalists granted clemency by Clinton were released from prison yesterday. All 11 renounced terrorism, as part of the clemency agreement. Inside, the WP reports that the controversy triggered by President Clinton’s decision continues to haunt candidate Clinton, who admittedly botched her reaction to the issue last week.

In a WP front story, former Oklahoma congressman Mickey Edwards, now a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, claims that Hillary Clinton is suffering from a typical first-candidate’s problem: She feels compelled to talk. “This is what happens when you can’t keep your mouth shut. … I call it bubble-gum mouth: You put in a nickel, and something comes out.”

Inside, the WP reports that Al Gore paid a visit to children at a school in Rhode Island who had expected to meet George W. Bush the day before. Bush failed to show up, because of bad weather, and Gore took the opportunity to show him up: “The Gore campaign, better known for playing defense most of the year, quickly seized the offensive. Moving with uncharacteristic swiftness, the vice president’s campaign wangled an invitation to meet with the students and hastily rearranged [Gore’s] schedule.” The WP says that Gore left Washington at 6:20 a.m. to make it to school on time.

What’s the connection between computer hacking and Chinese food? The NYT reports that Louis Kao, owner of the Palo Alto Chinese restaurant that in the 1970s played host to a number of men who pioneered the Internet and the personal computer industry, yesterday cooked his last meal. Reasons given by Kao’s devotees/guests for the connection between hackers and Chinese food included: convenience (Chinese restaurants are open late, and hackers eat late at night); intrigue (Chinese-restaurant menus are mysterious and complex, and hackers are driven to figure them out); and plain old good taste.