Today's Papers

“Don’t Ask” Don’t Work

The New York Times leads with President Clinton’s announcement (or admission) that the administration’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuals in the military isn’t working. Rather than implement a new policy, Clinton is expected to push military officials to better enforce the current one. The statement was prompted by his wife’s remarks earlier this week that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly. The Los Angeles Times reefers Clinton’s remarks and leads with an expose on failings of the state’s education system. California’s director of special education maintains that as many as 250,000 children have been incorrectly assessed as “learning disabled” and funneled into California’s special education programs simply because they were not taught to read. The Washington Post leads with the State Department’s warning that Americans abroad should take extra security precautions in the next month; the department has “credible information” that terrorist groups are planning attacks that target American citizens. The LAT, whose sources are quoted by the Post, reefers the announcement.

Despite the WP headline, Americans abroad needn’t run for the hills just yet. Such announcements are relatively common, although they usually accompany military actions, economic sanctions, or other foreign policy initiatives (yesterday’s warning was the fifth since October). The Post suggests that the warnings are a reference to Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist organization, but the link is dubious: Officials wouldn’t name a group, they only “indicated that [Bin Laden’s group] is the most important organization seeking to undermine U.S. interests.” The Post also points out that that attacks could occur any time from now through New Year, until the first week in January, when the Muslim holy month of Ramadan ends. Does the State Department’s announcement mention Ramadan, or did the WP add it? Either way, someone seems to be equating Islam and terrorism without explaining why. And wouldn’t a Muslim terrorist be less likely, not more likely, to take terrorist action during a holy month?

The WP and the LAT front stories highlighting different facets of the AIDS epidemic. The Post examines Africa, where the disease kills 5,000 people each day and could kill as many as 13,000 per day in 2005. The article stresses the economic ramifications of these statistics: In Kenya and Zimbabwe, projected GDP in 2005 may be as much as 20 percent lower than it would have been without the disease’s effect on young workers. The LAT article on AIDS in the U.S. emphasizes a more encouraging trend–hospices once filled with patients dying from AIDS are emptying and closing because their patients are getting better and leaving, a phenomenon dubbed “the Lazarus syndrome.”

The LAT points to today’s too-close-to-call presidential race in Chile as a sign that the country’s democratization has progressed since dictator Augusto Pinochet stepped down over 10 years ago. The contest, which includes candidates from Chile’s main right and left parties as well as four independent candidates, is expected to end in a run-off, the first in the country’s history.

A NYT special report examines Clinton fund-raiser Terry McAuliffe. McAuliffe is seen as a new breed of entrepreneurial fund-raisers who leverage their services not to obtain cushy ambassadorial posts or lobbyist clout but to help fuel telecommunications, banking, and real-estate  business deals. They’ve also helped fuel some lawsuits: “I’ve signed thousands of documents, but never read them,” McAuliffe remarks. Unlike Vernon Jordan, who plans to relocate to a New York City investment bank when his friend Bill steps down, McAuliffe plans to stay active in politics and is already raising money for Hillary Clinton’s Senate bid.

Now That’s Synergy: Used to be that only movie studios could use high-profile glossy magazines to flog their product. Now, the NYT reports, tobacco companies are paying publishers like Time Inc. millions of dollars to generate magazines similar in look and feel to popular twentysomething mags like Maxim and Mademoiselle. The new magazines, packed with tobacco ads, are an attempt to plug the “communication gap” (as an R.J. Reynolds memo puts it) created by independent magazines, which generally limit tobacco ads to only 2 percent or 3 percent of total ads. But persistent rumors that Joe Camel has signed on to star opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in an upcoming Miramax police drama are just that.