Today's Papers

Diplomatic Thresholds

The Washington Post leads with the swearing in of Austria’s new coalition government made up of “conservatives and Jörg Haider’s far-right [and anti-immigrant] Freedom Party today, touching off violent protests … and triggering diplomatic sanctions by” the 14 other members of the European Union, the U.S., Israel, and Norway. Austrian President Thomas Klestil reluctantly agreed to the new government on Thursday because it was democratically elected last October. Haider will not hold a post in the new government, but is expected to influence government policies plenty anyway. The Los Angeles Times fronts an Austrian piece quoting Klestil as saying he will “see to it that there are no developments in [Austria] which contradict the values of the European Union and of the international community.”

The New York Times off-leads a news analysis about the Austrian situation. It details a pledge Kletsil made Haider and the new chancellor, Wolfgang Schuessel, sign, vowing not to pass any legislation that disagrees with EU philosophy–but the declaration is not enforceable. The NYT piece is much more sympathetic to the new Austrian government than the others, as indicated by its headline: “Why Austria? Facing European Anger.” It calls the “diplomatic whipping” Austria has received “quite extraordinary.” It points out that Italy had a neo-Fascist government in 1994 and received no similar treatment, for instance, and many European countries have Communists in government who have made excuses for dictators without any repercussions. The piece explores a few possible reasons for the reaction, such as the desire by the Portuguese, who now hold the EU presidency, to lead a memorable action.

The LAT leads with a local story, about the firing of six members of a management team in charge of a $2.4-billion Los Angeles school repair and construction project following an investigation into overcharging by the firm doing the work.

The NYT goes with a piece about yesterday’s Brooklyn district court ruling that presidential hopeful John McCain, as well as Alan Keyes, will be put on the ballot for New York’s primary election. The decision comes after George W. Bush and “his chief New York supporter, Gov. George E. Pataki, dropped their attempt” to block McCain from the primary based on “the state’s torturous election rules.” It’s the second day in a row the NYT leads with this story.

“Bush Calls McCain Reform Hypocrite,” headlines the WP off-lead. Bush is “abandoning all pretext of running a nice-guy front-runner campaign” after falling behind McCain in polls in South Carolina, where the next primary takes place. Bush accuses him of using his position as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee to raise money from lobbyists. But the piece waits until 12 paragraphs in to relate that Bush took in $480,464 from people who work for lobbying firms in the first nine months of 1999, about five times as much as McCain’s $96,675.

The NYT mentions the accusations as evidence that Bush may be gearing up for a serious fight for the Republican nomination in the 16th paragraph of a story about “A New Challenge for Bush: Showing He Wants to Win.” The piece notes Bush has had a “pretty easy” political career thus far. “And the signals of whether or not he is up to the task [of fighting for the nomination]–indeed, whether he truly appreciates the need–are contradictory and inconclusive.”

The LAT does not front any news of the presidential race.

The NYT reports that the Tulsa Race Riot Commission recommended monetary reparations be made to black survivors of the 1921 riot, who saw people get shot to death and burned alive. The death toll from the riot, which many historians consider the nation’s bloodiest, is estimated at 300, though only 40 deaths have been documented. The commission deferred the responsibility of deciding on a dollar amount to lawmakers.

The NYT also runs a front-pager that begins “Although the cold war is over, some arms control analysts say that the threat of a nuclear war is actually greater now” because Russia has changed its military doctrine. Its policy used to be that it would “use nuclear weapons only ‘in case of a threat to the existence of the Russian Federation,’” but now will “use them ‘if all other means of resolving the crisis have been exhausted,’ an apparently lower threshold.”

Delta is going to be offering a computer perk package to employees similar to the one recently announced by Ford, though Delta’s will cost employees $12 a month as opposed to Ford’s $5, the LAT reports on its front. The companies will also probably spend hundreds of millions, but that’s a fraction of what they already spend on employee benefits. The likely hidden cost to employees? The erosion of “traditional boundaries between the workplace and the home.” The CPP could become a trend, analysts predict.

Since Illinois has begun investigating why the state sent 13 innocent men to death row, one common factor has become evident, reports a NYT front piece: “poorly financed, often incompetent defense lawyers who failed to uncover and present crucial evidence.”

A “little-noticed section” of Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening’s “smart gun” bill calls for “requiring firearms manufacturers to record the ‘ballistic fingerprints’ of all new handguns … so that police can more easily trace ammunition recovered from crime scenes,” news the WP fronts.