Today's Papers

Stocking Up

USA Today   leads with the Nasdaq composite index breaking the 3,000 barrier, a story topping the Wall Street Journal’s “Business and Finance” box. Most papers note that the index has risen 50 percent in a year, buoyed by a small group of weighted tech stocks like Microsoft and Intel. Investors are cautiously optimistic, and although a Washington Post   article says the Federal Reserve is unlikely to raise interest rates again this year, the other papers note that Wall Street will wait for October’s employment figures (to be released Friday) before reaching a conclusion. The New York Times   leads with a Justice Department lawsuit against seven utility companies for pollution violations, a story reefered by USAT. The government alleges that 32 coal-powered plants (USAT says 17) in the South and Midwest lack appropriate pollution-control equipment. Unlike the NYT’s story, the WSJ’s story mentions prominently the probable cost increases for consumers. (The Journal asserts, without attribution, that new pollution controls will cost $100 million per plant; the Times mentions–at the end of its story–the government’s estimate of $3 million to $4 million per plant.)

The non-local lead at the Los Angeles Times   is the State Department’s decision to make the lifting of Serbian sanctions contingent on free elections, rather than on Slobodan Milosevic’s relinquishing power. (The NYT broke this story yesterday; see yesterday’s TP.) The Post’s non-local lead is a report on the Colombian civil war: The Marxist rebels have become so well-stocked with Eastern European weapons that the Clinton administration is requesting an additional $2 billion in aid to the Colombian government over the next three years (compared to $289 million in FY ‘99). The NYT reports inside that the rebels, who began peace talks with the government on Oct. 24, have started kidnapping journalists with increasing frequency.

A Seattle workplace massacre is fronted by USAT and reefered by the LAT and Post. The gunman wore fatigues to a shipyard and shot four people with a 9mm handgun, killing two. He is still at large. (Note: The online version of USAT’s story links to: “Discussion: Does media coverage of shooting sprees lead to copycat crimes?” Furthermore: Does TP’s coverage of media coverage of shooting sprees lead to copycat crimes?)

USAT and the NYT front the latest radar data from the EgyptAir crash. After falling suddenly from 33,000 feet to 16,000 feet (and perhaps reaching the speed of sound), the plane rose like a roller coaster to 24,000 feet and then dropped again to 10,000 feet, at which point it was “no longer consistent with a flying airplane,” says the National Transportation Safety Board.

The LAT fronts  and the NYT reefers (with an above-the-fold photo) stories on the aftermath of last week’s Indian cyclone, which left about 3,000 to 5,000 dead. The two reporters describe half-naked residents boiling water amid flattened huts, with bloated bodies–both livestock and human–being picked apart by dogs and crows. “The winds have plucked off slabs of concrete and left the sidewalks gap-toothed,” the NYT correspondent writes. “Some of the city’s dead have been discovered 20 miles away, carried off in the raging cascades to a town called Kujang.”

The Post fronts, and the LAT and USAT reefer, the conviction of Aaron McKinney for second-degree murder, kidnapping, and robbery in the death of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming. Although McKinney is eligible for the death penalty, the lack of a first-degree-murder conviction and Wyoming’s historic reluctance to use the death penalty makes that sentence unlikely.

The LAT runs a fascinating “where-are-they-now?” dispatch from Iran on the student revolutionaries who stormed the U.S. Embassy 20 years ago today. Many of these students are now reformists pressing for open, secular government. And although there will be government-sponsored anti-American protests today in Tehran, most student remembrances will take the form of muted calls for “dialogue.”  “Every revolution at first has special idealistic causes and aims to change the world,” says one of the three students to organize the takeover. “But in practice, after a while, the revolutionaries will come face to face with some realities.” Now shorn of his revolutionary beard and wearing rimless Western spectacles, he says that “after 20 years of great difficulties, including a war imposed on us and poor economy,” he and his peers are “confronting the demand of the people to participate in politics.” Meanwhile, the Post and Times report that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, yesterday denounced pro-U.S. Iranians as “traitors” and “simpletons.” On the Journal’s opinion page, former Reagan administration official Ken Adelman writes a conventional remembrance of the hostage crisis: President Carter was weak and Reagan won the day.

Earlier this week the Journal seasoned its editorial page with a delightful collection of its best “Salt and Pepper” cartoons–a daily gag-comic begun in 1944. Two of these cartoons distill several generations of changes in business mores particularly well. In a cartoon from the ‘50s, a slightly paunchy middle-aged man, smoking a stogie under an umbrella on the beach, tells his petite, bikini-clad secretary sitting at his feet with her typewriter, “Take a postcard, Miss Hobbs.” And in a cartoon from the ‘90s, a natty, bespectacled young man in an ill-fitting suit says to a professional woman at a cocktail party, “I’m not one of those nerds who’s made a fortune with some kind of software. I’m just a nerd.” From IBM alpha to Microsoft beta in half a century–we’ve come a long way, baby.