Today's Papers

Burning Down the House

In its non-local lead, the Los Angeles Times reports new allegations concerning Democratic fund-raising improprieties. The New York Times leads with the growing skepticism about the Clinton administration’s anti-drug strategy in Colombia. The Washington Post goes with advances made in the treatment of hepatitis.

The LAT obtained an FBI report that details illegal foreign fund raising for Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign. Democratic fund-raiser, Yah Lin Trie, admitted in an interview with the FBI that he falsified the identity of a wealthy Taiwan businessman to sneak him into the White House to meet with the president. Trie also explained in detail how he illegally channeled large contributions from anonymous foreign sources to Clinton’s re-election effort. Al Gore, already under heavy fire from Bradley and McCain for his role in the fund-raising excesses of the last election, stands to suffer the most from Trie’s revelations.

The NYT reports that military and law-enforcement officials fear that the $1.3 billion plan to combat the drug trade and the rise of leftist insurgents in Colombia will inextricably mire the U.S. in Colombia’s ongoing civil war. Critics of the plan argue that because it lacks a coherent strategy it could bring about another Vietnam. Supporters of the plan, which entails training and equipping Colombian police but does not permit U. S. soldiers to engage guerilla forces directly, contend that unless Colombia’s rapidly expanding drug trade is curtailed, the country will descend into political and economic chaos.

The WP reports that researchers have discovered that certain AIDS drugs have been effective in combating hepatitis, which some scientists say will be responsible for more deaths than AIDS in the next few years if an effective treatment is not soon found.

The WP off-leads Austrian reaction to the sanctions and protests against Jörg Haider’s right-wing Freedom Party. Although many Austrians vehemently object to Haider’s endorsement of Nazi labor policies and his xenophobic politics, they are dismayed at the response he has provoked from the rest of the world. Some Austrians argue that Haider is using the outcry raised against him to fashion himself as a martyr and a hero. Better to ignore him, some say, and to allow his government to fail of its own accord than to give extra attention to his extremism. Others argue that his views are too reminiscent of Nazism not to be challenged aggressively. The LAT reefers a story on the effect of anti-rightist protests on Austria’s economic livelihood.

The LAT fronts an investigation into accusations that mechanics at the Alaskan Airlines facility that services all its MD-80s falsified safety inspection records and failed to perform required maintenance on the fleet.

The off-lead in the NYT examines the crisis in Congo, where ethnic conflict and the scramble for wealth and power has given rise to numerous violent factions. Some are fighting to unseat President Kabila, some are fighting to defend him, and still others have simply based themselves in Congo while they attempt to topple governments in neighboring countries. The United Nations has considered sending in troops to monitor the (generally ignored) cease-fire agreement of last summer.

McCain makes the front page in all three papers. The WP explains that his victory in New Hampshire has forced Bush not only to come up with a new campaign strategy, but also to redefine himself as a candidate. Bush’s strategists promise that he will emerge feistier and more tenacious in the next few weeks. The NYT profiles not McCain the candidate, but McCain the insurgent. In New Hampshire his populist reform message that he will “break the Washington iron triangle of big money, lobbyists and legislation” elicited from the audience a chant of “Burn it down.” Question is: When McCain’s specific political policies undergo close scrutiny, will the man himself retain the glow he now enjoys as the iconoclastic outsider? The LAT runs a story on McCain’s fund-raising efforts. Even as he rails against the evils of fund raising, he must raise money for his own bid for the nomination.

The NYT fronts below the fold a story on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vow to abandon what she admitted to be a “clumsy, passive, unfocused, and vague campaign.” She intends to engage Giuliani directly on issues such as school vouchers and tax cuts–a tactic she has avoided so-far.

The WP fronts coverage of a global security conference at which defense and security strategists from around the world assailed NATO’s handling of the Kosovo campaign, charging that it was “fraught with bureaucracy and shackled by political cowardice.” The discussions raised debate about the appropriate role of NATO and the viability of the U.S.-backed nuclear missile defense program.

The NYT fronts a story on the trend among retailers to use computer programs to conduct employee interviews—interviews that generate cursory psychological profiles of job candidates. Critics of the practice question the accuracy of the profiles, and they’re uneasy about where those profiles might eventually turn up.