Today's Papers

Caucasian Killers

The New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today   all lead with the 271-156 House vote to prohibit doctor-assisted suicide–an American Medical Association-supported bill intended to overturn an Oregon law. (Oregon voters have approved the suicide measure twice, with majorities of 51 percent and 60 percent.) The bill has strong support in the Senate, although the Post says a Democrat is threatening to filibuster. It is unknown whether President Clinton would sign it if passed. The Los Angeles Times’ top non-local lead is the assassination of eight Armenian politicians–including the prime minister–inside the parliament chamber. This story tops the Wall Street Journal’s “Worldwide” box, off-leads at the Post, goes below-the-fold at the NYT (which runs a dramatic video-still of the assassination attempt), and gets reefered by USAT.  The NYT off-leads  the serious, gentlemanly debate between Al Gore and Bill Bradley in New Hampshire, a story fronted by the LAT and reefered (with front-page pictures) by USAT and the Post.

The three Armenian assassins shot Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian and much of his Cabinet at close range, then took dozens of hostages. The Armenian president, Robert Kocharian, negotiated with the terrorists for about 10 hours before the gunmen–apparently nationalists angry at the prime minister’s land-for-peace negotiations with neighboring Azerbaijan–gave themselves up. (Islamic Azerbaijan lost control of the mostly Christian territory of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia earlier this decade.) Sarkisian’s murder came just an hour after seeing off U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott (a sometime Slate contributor), who was mediating the peace talks. The Post notes that Armenia is one of the highest per-capita recipients of U.S. foreign aid, and the negotiations with Azerbaijan are a special project of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

All the papers describe the Gore-Bradley debate as an amicable affair. Wearing a brown jacket and maroon tie, Gore was more aggressive than Bradley, taking questions from the audience 20 minutes before the cameras rolled and charging that Bradley’s health-care plan would eat the entire $1 trillion (over 10 years) surplus. Bradley brushed aside most of Gore’s criticisms at first, then disputed then calmly later on. The Post says that Bradley passed up a questioner’s invitation to attack Gore for 1996 campaign-finance abuses.

On the NYT op-ed page, former Reagan administration diplomat Paul H. Nitze argues that America should unilaterally destroy its nuclear weapons. Retaliatory nuclear strikes are never justified, he argues, because they would kill millions of innocents. Instead, the U.S. should use its pinpoint conventional missiles to make both pre-emptive and retaliatory strikes against nuclear terrorists and rogue states.

Journal editorial-board member John H. Fund opines that many of John McCain’s longtime GOP associates from Arizona–many of them now less-than-adoring of the senator–could have predicted McCain’s Nixonian reaction to Monday’s mildly critical NYT story (he accused the Bush campaign of “planting” the story in the Times to smear him; see yesterday’s TP). Fund says McCain’s hypersensitivity should give pause to his acolytes in the national media. McCain has “courage and candor,” Fund writes. “But a president can’t rule by heroic example alone; he must build and lead a team. In light of Mr. McCain’s record and reputation in Arizona [as temperamental], one must ask how effective a Lone Ranger like him would be in the White House.”

The Post reports on the latest hot Internet startup: a llama auction site. Run by a computer techie at NIH who moonlights as a breeder at the “Llamarada” farm in Virginia, lets you search for your woolly pet by gender and personality type, and even offers a “mini-herd discount” for group sales. Today’s Papers has taken a liking to “PHL Gem Dandy,” the Chilean female with the cute inky-black face, described as “suitable for use as a companion” and “very docile/willing.” TP will have to ask his landlord before bidding, though. (He might have to settle for the cashmere goat.)