Today's Papers

The Wall Street Journal   puts atop its “Worldwide” box the first indictments  in the Russian money-laundering case, a story fronted by the other papers. The New York Times leads with Secretary General Kofi Annan’s announcement that the United Nations will have to take complete control of East Timor–an effort expected to cost nearly $1 billion, of which the U.S. is obligated to pay 31 percent. The U.N. had been expected to play a role in Timor’s transition to independence, but Annan says pillaging by Indonesian troops after August’s plebiscite has left the Timor government in disarray. (For a Timor primer, click here.) The other papers stuff this story. The Washington Post   leads with the House GOP’s partial capitulation on “patient rights” legislation: In the face of more sweeping legislation sponsored by Democrats, the House leadership reversed position and wrote an alternative bill giving patients the right to sue their HMOs. (The Los Angeles Times  fronts, and the NYT reefers, this story.) The LAT leads with the Federal Reserve’s warning that inflation may be on the horizon–an advisory delivered along with a decision not to raise interest rates. (The markets dipped and then recovered.)

A federal grand jury indicted former Bank of New York Vice President Lucy Edwards, her husband, and a business associate with conspiracy to transmit about $7 billion illegally. The indictment–which falls short of federal money-laundering charges–accuses the Russian-born couple and their friend of operating three money-transfer businesses without a state license from 1996 until August, when the investigation became public and the BoNY fired Edwards. Meanwhile, Russian authorities raided a Moscow bank–known for its political connections–as part of its investigation into related money transfers. It doesn’t end there: The WSJ reports that Swiss authorities are investigating suspicious BoNY accounts held by the husband of Tatyana Dyachenko, Boris Yeltsin’s daughter and political confidant. (To learn more about money laundering, click here.)

The NYT and the Post front George W. Bush’s provocative speech  on education, in which he proposed a major expansion of federal loans for charter schools and criticized the GOP for the second time in a week. “Too often, on social issues, my party has painted an image of America slouching toward Gomorrah,” Bush said. “Too often, my party has confused the need for limited government with a disdain for government itself.” He also proposed federal incentives for states to participate in national elementary-age testing programs. Writing in USA Today, sometimeSlate contributor Walter Shapiro laments that Bush’s remarks were over-rehearsed and “totally skirted such contentious issues as public schools run on a for-profit basis and the merits of teaching to ace tests.” (For Slate’s take on Bush’s education policy, click here.)

The LAT reports that former President Jimmy Carter has been lobbying President Clinton to pardon Patty Hearst, the newspaper-magnate scion who in 1974 was famously kidnapped and “brainwashed” into robbing a bank with her captors (the “Symbionese Liberation Army”). Although many Justice Department officials are opposed to a pardon, Carter says Hearst–now Patricia Hearst Shaw–has been a model citizen and mother since he commuted her sentence in 1979. Shaw, notes the LAT, is a potential but reluctant witness in the upcoming trial of Sara Jane Olson, a recently captured former SLA member. Olson’s attorney accused Shaw of trying to sell her testimony for a pardon.

All the papers report that college tuition and fees rose less than 5 percent this year–twice the rate of inflation but the lowest rate of growth in many years. (How many years? The LAT says 27, the NYT says 12, the WSJ and USAT say 4, and the Post doesn’t specify.) Cuts in administrative and educational expenses at private schools and increased state funding of public schools account for most of the gains, says the College Board, which conducted the survey. “About 50 percent of people who go to college pay about $4,000 for fees and tuition,” says an expert in the NYT, “which is $16,000 over four years. If a person works for 40 years, they’ll probably earn over $1 million on that $16,000.” On the Post opinion page, David Ignatius drives this point home  by quoting Nicholas Lemann’s new book on meritocracy (buy it here): “Here is what America looks like today,” writes Lemann. “A thick line runs through the country, with people who have been to college on one side of it and people who haven’t on the other. The line gets brighter all the time. … As people plan their lives and their children’s lives, higher education is the main focus of their aspirations (and the possibility of getting into the elite end of higher education is the focus of their very dearest aspirations).” (Lemann’s book was also discussed in Slate’s Book Club.)

The Journal profiles one youth who didn’t buy into the meritocracy racket. On Sept. 24, Kevin Prigel–a 20-year-old who turned down Harvard for a full scholarship at Texas Christian University–broke the news that America Online was looking to buy part of Excite at Home in a deal with AT&T. His scoop, which was posted on his new website  and later confirmed by the companies themselves, caused Excite at Home’s stock to rise $4.2 billion in a week. Who says you need a guild card to be a journalist?