Today's Papers

Turkey Clubbed

The Los Angeles Times leads with yesterday’s earthquake in Turkey, a story the Washington Post fronts and the New York Times slips inside. The NYT lead announces that President Clinton has won the federal budget battles, and the WP goes with a scoop on the likely veto of the MCI-Sprint merger by federal regulators.

All three papers report that the Turkish quake registered a 7.2 on the standard measuring scale (the August 17 one was a 7.4) and was closely centered in the Bolu province, halfway between Istanbul and Ankara (the August 17 one hit Bolu, but its impact spanned a much wider area). The WP says that dozens have been killed and hundreds injured; the LAT goes with 120 dead and 500 injured. Even though this earthquake seems to have been less lethal than the August one, the country is experiencing a horrible bout of déjà vu, with reports of victims trapped under small mountains of rubble and widespread frustration at the state’s ineffectual relief efforts. The WP story emphasizes that the quake came, inconveniently enough, just two days before President Clinton is supposed to be in Turkey for a European summit (the trip is still on).

The NYT tallies the partisan wins and losses in this year’s federal budget wars and declares President Clinton the clear victor. The evidence: The Republicans have reluctantly loaded their bills with an extra $5 billion in spending and allowed Clinton to pass his program for adding teachers nationwide. That said, the story adds that the Republicans could have done worse, especially given their thin House majority, inexperienced new speaker, low poll ratings, and internecine strife between conservatives and moderates. They managed to dedicate more money than Clinton wanted to the Pentagon and military salaries and establish themselves as protectors of Social Security revenue. Now, says the story, they simply “want to go home.”

The WP lead, sourced to “knowledgeable insiders,” reports that regulators will veto the merger between MCI WorldCom and Sprint, on the grounds that it would allow too few companies to control too much of the long-distance market. AT&T and the new mega-WorldCom Inc. would control nearly 80 percent of long-distance service. Meanwhile, WorldCom is spinning the deal as “the single best hope for a strong and effective alternative to the mega-Bells and the emerging AT&T cable monopoly.”

The WP alone fronts news of a terrorist attack on U.S. and U.N. targets in Pakistan. The bombers planted explosives in parked cars near U.S. and U.N. facilities. Only a few people were hurt in the blasts. No one has claimed responsibility, but most suspect the Taliban movement, which controls most of Pakistan’s neighbor, Afghanistan. The Taliban has denied involvement, but the bombs are widely perceived as a message to the U.N., which is set to impose sanctions against the Taliban on Sunday if it fails to expel or extradite Osama bin Laden.

The LAT and WP front the latest on the EgyptAir flight 990 investigation. The National Transportation Safety Report still hasn’t found any evidence of fire, loss of cabin pressure, or any other clear reason for the plane’s sharp descent. Investigators have found still-inconclusive evidence that the two pilots may have been thrusting the controls in opposite directions, and surmise that they may have been fighting each other, struggling with passengers, or simply panicking. “The dive was so violent that unbelted passengers would have floated about the cabin,” the WP describes dramatically.

The NYT and WP report that Mark Manes, who sold Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris one of the guns they used in the Columbine massacre, was sentenced to six years in prison. The trial’s biggest revelation was that Harris and Klebold had made a videotape outlining their plan, thanking those who had helped them obtain the necessary weapons, and assuring future viewers that they were acting alone without anyone else’s knowledge. “Let me tell you this much, they have no clue. So don’t blame them and arrest them for what we did,” said Klebold. Lawyers quoted from the tape, but it was not released to the public.

Parkay and Entenmann’s beware: The LAT and NYT front new FDA guidelines that, if accepted, would include a count of trans fatty acids–aka “stealth fat”–on nutrition labels. Trans fatty acids, common in margarines and baked goods, are unanimously thought by nutritionists to contribute to heart disease. Foods containing less than half a gram of trans fat and a half gram of saturated fat per serving could proudly claim to be “trans fat free.”

The LAT and NYT fronts the pomp-filled reinterrment of the remains of 26 Confederate soldiers whose graves were recently found under a sports stadium in Charleston (the WP puts the story inside). The bodies had originally been buried in an old mariners’ cemetery, but in 1948, the Citadel built a stadium on the site without properly exhuming the graves, which were finally discovered this summer by a neo-Confederate group. Volunteers spent most of the summer digging the site up, and yesterday, Civil War re-enactment groups gave them a full Confederate burial, including a rousing rendition of “Dixie.” The papers agree that the event epitomized South Carolina’s stubborn and controversial attachment to Confederate symbols. The NAACP is currently boycotting the state for flying the Confederate flag. Last week Gov. Jim Hodges asked the NAACP to drop the boycott on the condition that he push for a bill designating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a state holiday. South Carolina is also the only state that still flies the flag and doesn’t celebrate King’s birthday. The NAACP “doesn’t care about the flag, they’re just doing this to raise money,” Republican State Senator Arthur Ravenel told the NYT.