Today's Papers

112 Dead

The Los Angeles Times leads with news that global stock markets strongly rebounded on Friday from a dramatic dip earlier in the week, sending the Dow Jones industrial average to an all-time high: 11,522.56.

A New York Times lead, poorly written and edited, says Vice President Al Gore retreated from a declaration made during his Wednesday debate with Bill Bradley that he would require any person he nominated to a chief of staff position to “agree in advance [that is, before getting the nomination,] to let gays serve openly in the military.” A Washington Post story, reefered on the front in an early edition and fronted in a later one, explains the story more clearly. Gore’s position, now the same as Bradley’s, is that gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military, and he would require his Joint Chiefs of Staff to carry out such a policy, but not require them to support it before appointment. The LAT stuffs the news.

The Post goes with President Clinton’s impending announcement of an aid package promising Colombia more than $1 billion over the next two years. He developed the proposal after congressional Republicans proposed their own $1.6-billion-over-three-years plan; and after Colombian President Andres Pastrana asked the U.S. to help pay for a comprehensive Colombian improvement plan he developed. The big difference in the two packages is that the GOP wants most of the money to go to police and drug trafficking while Clinton wants it “more evenly divided between those efforts and government infrastructure and economic assistance,” like Pastrana wants. The issue of giving military aid to Colombia is complicated by the rebel forces that control “most of the country’s drug-producing regions” and by Colombia’s “unsavory human rights record.” The NYT doesn’t seem to carry the story at all; the LAT runs a wire piece about it.

Speaking of unsavory human rights records … a NYT front piece announces “Florida Passes Bill to Quicken Execution Pace.” Gov. Jeb Bush proposed and pushed through the bill, modeled on a 1995 Texas law his brother, Texas governor and presidential hopeful George W., proposed and pushed through. GWB has overseen the executions of 111 men and one woman. (By the way, the ACLU claims that there have been 581 U.S. executions since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. So GWB has been responsible for almost one-fifth of the total.) The Florida law will “shorten the length between sentencing and execution to 5 years” from the current average of 14. The U.S. Supreme Court plans to “review Florida’s use of the electric chair” because the state has botched a number of executions. Unfortunately, it’s not until almost the end of the piece that we learn “87 people on death row in the United States have been found to be wrongly convicted, and released [since 1973]. The average time those inmates spent on death row was seven and a half years.” Not five. The piece does not say, though it should, how much it costs to execute, or to house per year, someone on death row. The LAT doesn’t have this important story; the Post only has a graph on it halfway through its “Nation In Brief” section.

The Post, NYT, and LAT front stories about Russia’s suspension of airstrikes against Grozny, the Chechen capital. Rebel resistance helped cause the moratorium. The Russians claimed the pause “was intended to allow the thousands of civilians still trapped in Grozny to escape from the fighting” (NYT). But, since two of three senior field generals were replaced concurrently, the “reason behind the [suspension] … was not entirely clear” (Post). The WP piece focuses on the dismissals. The NYT reminds that Russian generals claimed last week they would quicfkly crush the rebels. Both Times point out that Russia’s new acting president, Vladimir Putin, needs Russia to continue to appear successful in the war to retain popular support. The LAT is alone in quoting a Moscow military analyst who thinks “the initiative is slipping from the hands of the worn-out military and into the hands of the Chechen rebels”; and in citing another analyst who thought it suspicious that Putin removed two of his most ardent supporters, also two of Russia’s most popular generals.

The Post reefers a story the LAT off-leads and the NYT runs a wire piece about: A 14-year-old Tibetan lama, one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most honored leaders, secretly fled from China to India, joining the exile movement led by the Dalai Lama. Scholars agree the defection is likely embarrassing to the Chinese government, but the Chinese government’s spin is that “it was due to a split in his movement rather than disillusionment with life in China.” As the LAT says, the escape “appeared to dash whatever hopes remained for a compromise between Beijing” and the Tibetan Buddhist leadership.

A NYT correction addressed an inconsistency TP noted yesterday: “After Gov. George W. Bush of Texas said, ‘I would take an expression into the Oval Office of “Dear God–help me!” ’ it was Gary L. Bauer, not Alan Keyes, who replied, ‘So would we, governor.’ “