Today's Papers

Inside Her Trading

The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times lead with the heightening of security measures in the wake of last week’s arrest of a man trying to enter the U.S. with the makings of several large bombs. USA Today off-leads anti-terrorism and goes instead with yesterday’s tech-led stock surge–apparently off the Fed’s decision not to raise interest rates for now, a development the Wall Street Journal puts at the top of its front-page business and finance news box. USAT’s headline states a stunner: “NASDAQ UP 77 PERCENT FOR YEAR.” The New York Times stuffs the one-day financials but leads with the likelihood that the Federal Communications Commission will allow Bell Atlantic to become the first Baby Bell to enter the long-distance market. This would mean, explains the Times, that for the first time since the AT&T break-up, phone customers in New York will be able to get local and long-distance phone service from the same company. The paper views this as auguring the FCC’s approval of long-distance provision by the other Baby Bells as well. Upshot: The L-D giants like AT&T and Sprint will have powerful new competitors who already have service relationships with tens of millions of customers.

The LAT lead emphasizes the anti-terror moves being made by the Federal Aviation Administration at airports. The WP lead limns the intensifying concern occurring across the full spectrum of the federal government, reporting, for instance, on an anti-terrorism meeting Monday attended by Madeleine Albright, the CIA director, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Both stories note that Customs has just reassigned some 300 extra agents to remote spots along the Canadian and Mexican borders.

The WP lead also promotes the significance of a second border arrest, on Dec. 19, of an Algerian man and a Canadian woman trying to enter Vermont from Quebec. The man did not have adequate identification, and later a false French passport was found in his jacket. And, says the Post, when two bomb-sniffing dogs were called in to go over the car–one for detecting plastic explosives, the other black powder–they each alerted to the same portion of the car, suggesting the residue of explosives there. The paper gives over half its lead to this arrest, and headlines it “2ND ALGERIAN ARRESTED ON U.S. BORDER.” The LAT lead saves the Vermont arrest until the last few paragraphs. (The NYT runs a story about it inside.)

A NYT top-fronter reports that Democratic Party officials have established committees that channel large contributions to several Senate campaigns in a way that circumvents limits on contributions to individual candidates. The so-called victory funds are, says the Times, being used for Senate races in New York, California, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Missouri. The paper says experts say the funds are “probably legal” because, despite being incorporated and administered by national party organizations, they create only an informal tie between the donor or the national party on the one hand and the individual candidate on the other (whereas a formal tie would be illegal, given the amounts involved). And yes, the paper explains, the New York operation benefits Hillary Clinton–to the tune of “several hundred thousand dollars.” Gripe: Although the story makes it clear that the Republicans have established victory funds as well, the headline only mentions Democrats.

A front-page WP story cites unnamed sources to sketch President Clinton’s post-presidential plans: living half-time in Arkansas, where he will oversee a new graduate program at the University of Arkansas, a public policy center, and a public-sector fellowship program for young executives. In addition, says the story, Clinton intends to earn large sums of money making speeches at up to $125,000 a pop.

Both the NYT and WP front Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo’s announcement yesterday that his agency will take direct control of the $60 million earmarked for services for the homeless in New York City, because the Giuliani administration cannot be trusted to distribute them fairly. Mayor Giuliani responded, say the papers, by accusing Cuomo of playing politics with the homeless programs and, says the NYT, by noting political ties between Cuomo and Hizzonner’s likely Senate race opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The WP and NYT fronts and USAT’s money front report that a well-known Wall St. investment banker was indicted Tuesday on charges that he provided illegal tips about pending bank mergers to his still-at-large mistress, described variously as a stripper, an adult-film star, and an escort. The story also makes the WSJ’s front-page business and financial news box, although in the summary there, the reader is spared any reference to the woman.

The NYT reports that newly declassified Senate testimony shows that Janet Reno said last June that she thought federal investigators into the possible theft of U.S. nuclear technology by China had focused prematurely on former Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee. The paper, which has run many front-page stories in the past year suggesting that China did indeed steal U.S. nuclear secrets, often detailing suspicious behavior of Lee, puts this one inside. Incidentally, LAT columnist Robert Scheer noted yesterday that the NYT has yet to write about a Stanford University research team’s critique of the principal government document making the case against Lee and China.

A front-page WSJ story documents something pretty interesting about schools on military bases: Although their student bodies are more racially diverse and poorer than those in general society, their test scores are very good. In fact, in 1998, base schools’ scores in the national eighth-grade writing exam were No. 2 in the country. And the rate of matriculation is 80 percent, compared to the national rate of 67 percent. One hidden variable the story suggests is partially responsible: The military commands tend to support the teachers in disciplinary wrangles with students and their parents.

The WP makes you wonder about the quality of thought behind many of those anti-Microsoft lawsuits that came tumbling forth right after the antitrust trial judge’s finding of facts. The paper says that one hastily filed suit says that Microsoft is a generic drug maker and another says the company’s principal location is Texas.