Today's Papers

Dollars and Sense?

The Washington Post leads with the restoration of civilian rule in Ecuador, following Friday’s bloodless coup led by a three-man junta. Yesterday Ecuador’s vice president, Gustavo Noboa, was sworn in as president under intense pressure from the U.S. and other foreign countries. The New York Times fronts the Ecuador story but leads with an exclusive report on the frenzy to adopt health-care legislation. The Times reports that state lawmakers are bearing the brunt of reform: states adopted 1,400 health-care bills last year, and another 16,000 proposals have been introduced for 2000. The Los Angeles Times scoops the other papers with a proposed $20 billion deal between Time Warner and Britain’s EMI Group and fronts the Ecuadorean crisis below the fold.

The WP lead highlights the role the U.S. played in convincing Ecuador to reinstate its elected government: The U.S. strong-armed the opposition by threatening to cut foreign aid and discourage investment in the economically devastated country. President Jamil Mahuad was toppled three days ago when Indian protestors, supported by military officers, stormed the congressional building. At issue? Mahuad’s economic policies, specifically a plan to replace Ecuador’s currency with the U.S. dollar in an effort to slow inflation and restore confidence in the economy. Critics of the plan claim it would hurt the poorest people, including a large majority of the country’s 4 million Indians. The NYT provides extra details about Ecuador’s economic crisis, including the facts that Mahuad froze the life savings of thousands of Ecuadoreans last March and that the country defaulted on half of its $13 billion foreign debt in September. The LAT, for its part, offers the most information about the new president, Gustavo Noboa, a former rector and law-school dean who has pledged to open a dialogue with the disgruntled protestors. But the WP reports that the Indian leaders are no happier with Noboa than they were with President Mahuad.

According to the LAT, the deal between Time Warner and EMI, expected to be announced in London Monday, will create the second-largest music conglomerate in the world. Critics will bemoan the decrease in number of competitors in the market (which could undercut the diversity of music produced), but the paper suggests that such criticism might be offset by the acceleration of online access to music. Once Warner’s merger with America Online is complete, the deal with EMI is expected to revolutionize the way many people buy music. Rather than shop in record stores, customers will eventually download entire albums directly from the Internet.

The WP off leads and the NYT fronts a report from Iowa, where George W. Bush and Al Gore are expected to clean up in tomorrow’s caucuses. According to the WP, the anticipated outcome, which is understood to be a foregone conclusion; economic prosperity; and ideological similarities between parties has led to voter apathy. The NYT reports that the “spirited contests” between candidates isn’t enough to spark much enthusiasm for the old-fashioned exercise in democracy: Though presidential hopefuls have stumped tirelessly throughout the state (save John McCain, who is skipping Iowa to concentrate on next week’s primary in New Hampshire), only one-ninth of registered voters are expected to turn out Monday night to stand up and nominate their candidates. The LAT off lead, an exhaustive analysis of a recent LAT poll, jumps ahead to New Hampshire, where the poll has found Gore commanding a sizable lead over Bill Bradley, and Bush and McCain locked in a dead heat.

The NYT off-leads with the federal investigation into Osama Bin Laden’s terrorism network. Prosecutors claim that Bin Laden, implicated in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, has recruited American accomplices and used international companies–including a Kenyan charity–as fronts for terrorist activities. Surprisingly, letters found by prosecutors use codes a child could crack–bin Laden is referred to as “Mr. Sam” and “O’Sam” and the FBI is called the “Food and Beverage Industry.” The NYT points out that it’s not clear whether the U.S. has any direct evidence that Bin Laden ordered the embassy attacks, though there is evidence, apparently, that Bin Laden is connected to violence in Ethiopia.

The WP fronts and the NYT stuffs the continuing saga of Elián González, whose two grandmothers met with Attorney General Janet Reno yesterday to lobby for the return of their grandson to Cuba. The WP reports that Elián’s grandmothers found Reno friendly but unable to reassure them that Elián would be going home anytime soon. Late yesterday the Justice Department released a statement saying that the grandmothers had made “a very compassionate and heartfelt plea” to be reunited with Elián but that the matter is now (read “tied up”) in federal court.

Like father like son:

Inside the NYT George W. is compared to his “famously tongue-tied father.” Friday night, when comparing the foreign policy paradigm of yesteryear, when the No. 1 enemy of the U.S. was the Soviet Union, to foreign policy threats today, he said: “When I was coming up … it was a dangerous world and we knew exactly who they were. It was us versus them, and it was clear who them was. Today, we’re not so sure who they are, but we know they’re there.” Let that be a comfort to them. Or us. Or you.