Today's Papers

Secret Agent Man?

The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times front the forced expulsion of Cuban diplomat Jose Imperatori, who was accused of spying for Havana. FBI agents took him into custody after he refused an order to depart the U.S. The New York Times leads with China’s adoption of a more aggressive stance toward Taiwan. China announced in a policy paper that it considers Taiwan to be a renegade province and that it would consider military action if Taiwan delays its return to the mainland.

According to the WP and the LAT, Imperatori has been accused of being the Cuban government’s liaison with Mariano Faget, the U.S. immigration official charged with delivering information to Havana about applications Cubans have made for political asylum. FBI agents removed Imperatori from his apartment and flew him to Montreal, where he is to board a plane for Cuba. The Cuban government, however, has refused to recall the diplomat, challenging the U.S. to prove its accusations in court. Cuba has asserted that the U.S. concocted the charges against Imperatori as part of a plot to prevent the return of Elián González to his native country. The U.S. denies the charge. No clear connection between the two situations has been established, but theories are sure to be born.

The NYT lead focuses on how China’s more aggressive stance toward Taiwan will affect U.S. foreign policy. The primary issues are the possible use of force in the Taiwan Strait to counter Chinese aggression that might occur there and the increasingly difficult task of trying to bring China into the World Trade Organization.

The NYT off-leads the aftermath of the Amadou Diallo verdict, reporting that, despite 30 arrests, protests and demonstrations in New York were emotional but for the most part subdued. The Rev. Al Sharpton, accompanied by Diallo’s mother at a gathering of 300 people, called for a federal investigation into the case and for a fight against police brutality; but he also urged the community to remain peaceful. At a press conference, Giuliani commended New Yorkers for their level-headedness in the wake of the verdict. He also stated his belief that the trial had been conducted fairly and that the officers should not have to stand trial again on charges of civil rights violations.

Revisiting the Alaska Airlines crash, the LAT fronts a story that raises questions about Federal Aviation Administration safety procedures. Critics contend that the FAA is negligent in its duties of overseeing the airline industry and that it allows financial and operational pressures to outweigh safety considerations.

McCain’s recent triumphs have kept him on the front page. The WP attempts to profile the “McCainiacs” who have elevated their candidate above Bush, the former shoo-in. Are McCain supporters reacting against the character scandals that tarnished Clinton’s presidency? Are they Ross Perot supporters coming out of hibernation? Are they common folk rejecting Bush’s elitism? Or do they just yearn for a war hero to assume leadership of the country? Neither pollsters nor the WP can explain it. One politico was even reduced to hypothesizing obtusely that “Whatever the [McCain] phenomenon is, it’s not one thing.” The NYT fronts a hard-hitting but fair biographical piece on the Arizona senator. The detailed portrait explores McCain’s wartime imprisonment, his marital crises, and his decision to enter politics.

On the front, below the fold, the WP suggests that the outcome of the GOP primary in Virginia will be determined by conservative Republicans. McCain, confident of the support of “maverick Republicans” and crossover Democrats, has made a strong play for the conservative vote, referring to himself as a “proud Reagan Republican” in a recent TV commercial.

The LAT fronts Bill Bradley’s failing attempts to stir up enthusiasm among Washington voters before next Tuesday’s primary. Perhaps most distressing has been the scarcity of national reporters at Bradley’s campaign stops. Gore, however, continues to surge on the West Coast. One poll put him at 56 percent to Bradley’s 11 percent in California. The LAT also cites some Democrats who have called for Bradley to withdraw altogether and lend his support to Gore.

The WP fronts a piece on the shifting financial dynamics among married couples. According to one source, more than one in three working wives now earns more money than her husband. In 1980, that number was fewer than one in five. Several factors are cited: Colleges are now graduating more women than men; more women are working full-time; and women have entered careers traditionally dominated by men.

The LAT fronts Malaysia’s angry response to the State Department’s criticism of that country’s human rights record and its treatment of political prisoners. One Malaysian official responded that the U.S. should look into “the rampant human rights violations in the Bronx area … before meddling in other people’s affairs.”