Today's Papers

Copycat Killer

Most of the papers lead with local election results. USA Today   leads with a national election round-up: Slugged “Republicans Take Virginia,” the story says that the GOP won control of the Virginia legislature for the first time ever (the Washington Post   says the first time in a century) and is close to winning the Philadelphia mayor’s office for the first time in 50 years (Associated Press dispatches this morning show the Democrat won). But Democrats won the mayoralty in GOP-heavy Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio. Maine voters legalized limited marijuana use and Washington state voters slashed car taxes. The New York Times’ top nonlocal lead is the massacre of seven Xerox employees by a co-worker in Honolulu, a story off-leaded  by the Los Angeles Times   and USAT and fronted by the Post. The LAT leads  with a widening Justice Department probe into bribery in the Latin music business. The anonymously sourced story says that the DOJ will soon prosecute officials at 80 Spanish radio stations in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles for taking payola from the large independent label Fonovisa.

USAT says the copier repairman, Byran Uyesuji, 40, had just been laid off. He shot seven colleagues, all of whom died immediately, with 20 shots from a 9-millimeter pistol. He drove a company van to a nature preserve and gave himself up after several hours of negotiations. Most of the papers note that Uyesuji has at least 17 weapons registered in his name (a similar number were found in his home) and was a member of his high-school shooting team. The LAT and Post note that according to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Uyesuji had a gun permit turned down in 1994 after an arrest for property damage at work.

The LAT has the best detail  on the shooting: Uyesuji is a “chunky figure” who wore a blue-and-white Hawaiian shirt. A high-school classmate says he was “quiet and not part of the in-crowd.” Uyesuji’s father tells the LAT, “I’m going to bring him another gun so he can shoot himself,” and recalls that his son received anger-management counseling after kicking an elevator door several years ago. The LAT notes that Hawaii has strict gun laws, requiring a safety course, waiting period, and background check to get a permit. All the papers note that there were only 17 murders last year in Honolulu, a city of 800,000 people. The Post puts this in perspective: In Washington, D.C., there were 260 homicides among 543,000 residents. The NYT notes that Uyesuji’s workplace shooting is one of the 10 deadliest in the nation’s history. (To read Chatterbox’s take on quiet, reclusive neighbors who snap, click here.)

The Post fronts a new radar analysis of EgyptAir Flight 990’s last moments. The plane fell 4 miles a minute for about 40 seconds and then turned to the right before hitting the water, suggesting that the plane began to break up in the air. The straight initial drop also indicates that the problem was likely not with the engines’ thrust reversers, which would have caused the plane to spin had they fired accidentally. The National Transportation Safety Board also reported that one of the thrust reversers had been deactivated on the EgyptAir jet, a normal procedure that made their uncontrolled ignition less likely. The Wall Street Journal   says that, in its final report on a 1997 Korean Airlines crash in Guam (released yesterday), the NTSB lambasted the Federal Aviation Administration for not regulating foreign airlines enough. The NYT fronts a story detailing the improvements in victim consolation and in crash investigation since the TWA Flight 800 disaster. (To read Michael Kinsley on our irrational fear of flying, click here.)

The NYT reports that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will announce today a policy change on Serbia: The U.S. will end sanctions if the country holds free elections. Previously, the U.S. had required the removal of Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic to end sanctions. But a “senior official” undercuts the sincerity of the new U.S. position when he tells the Times, “We cannot imagine, based on our analysis, that a genuinely free and fair election would allow Milosevic to remain as president.”

On the LAT opinion page, Brookings Fellow Shibley Telhami presses the White House to announce a Clinton Doctrine asserting that the U.S. has “vital strategic” interests in Middle East peace. The U.S. has always maintained its “interest” in Israeli peace, but the “vital strategic” moniker signals to the American public that we are prepared to go to war over that interest, if necessary. With current peace negotiations requiring an American economic commitment as early as February, the Clinton administration needs to begin building support at home by redefining our participation in the process as something more than charity.

The Post editors weigh in  on Time’s revelation that Al Gore had been paying feminist celebrity Naomi Wolf $15,000 a month to advise him how to be an “alpha male.” “If Mr. Gore were more confident about his purpose in running for president, he would not need magical elixirs,” the editors write. “The fact that his campaign sought to conceal payments to Ms. Wolf suggests that the candidate knows this well.” On the NYT op-ed page, Maureen Dowd seconds this opinion–albeit in her inimitably waggish way. “You’ve got to respect a woman who gets a vice president to pay her a salary higher than his own,” she writes. “Of course, when a man has to pony up a fortune to a woman to teach him how to be a man, that definitely takes the edge off his top-dogginess.” But the top-dog prize goes to alpha satirist Christopher Buckley, who  recalls moments from his own Naomi-therapy (in the Journal):

“By the way [Wolf tells Buckley], that tie you’re wearing, it’s all wrong.” 

“It’s an Hermès tie, you ignorant shrew. It cost me almost as much as your monthly retainer.”

“Your anger is very alpha. But an orange tie with teensy golf clubs is totally beta. In fact, it’s gamma. Lose it. And by the way, no more golf.”

(For Chatterbox’s take on Gore’s beta problem, click here.)