Today's Papers


The New York Times and Los Angeles Times lead with the $1.8 trillion budget formally submitted to Congress yesterday by President Clinton. The Washington Post fronts the budget, but its top non-local story is the Pentagon’s finding that last month’s test failure of an anti-missile interceptor was caused by a plumbing leak in the system that supports the interceptor’s sensors. The story says in its first sentence that if deployed, the system would cost $12.7 billion but saves for its last sentence the information that the nation has already spent $60 billion to get to this point. USA Today stuffs the budget, leading instead with yesterday’s record close for the Nasdaq. The paper reports that the Nasdaq’s price-to-earnings ratio is 150, compared to the Dow’s 27 and the S&P 500’s 31.

The two Times leads go over high points of the Clinton budget: moderate but not sweeping tax relief, a 10-year forecast non-Social Security surplus of $746 billion, much of it applied to reducing the national debt, and some going toward increases in defense, education, and law enforcement and to establish new programs subsidizing prescription drugs for the elderly and the catastrophically ill. The LAT thumbnails the budget as “appealing to middle class voters,” while the NYT says it’s an attempt to “allow the nation to have it all.” Both stories detail strong Republican opposition, with the NYT saying flatly that the GOP views the budget as a “nonstarter.”

The WP and LAT front the assassination in a Belgrade restaurant of the Yugoslav defense minister. The papers both note that there is only speculation about why, and then proceed to lay it out: Either the hit happened because the man was an ally of Milosevic (both papers) or because he was a threat who could tie him to war crimes (LAT).

The WP fronts and the LAT reefers yesterday’s three-hour service interrupt at Yahoo, which the company blames on a computer hacking attack. The NYT and USAT run the story inside. The papers explain that apparently the hack was achieved not by breaking into the system, but by directing a flood of computer data to its routers.

The NYT front reports that France has recently become the first country in the world to give school nurses the right to dispense morning-after birth-control pills to girls as young as 12. The hope is that this will help lower unwanted pregnancies and reduce France’s abortion rate, which has long been one of the highest in Europe. The nurses are advised to make an effort to inform the girl’s parents, but are not required to. On the other hand, says an inside story at the WP, the Indiana legislature yesterday passed a bill allowing schools and other public buildings to post the Ten Commandments. The paper explains that in the coming weeks another nine states are poised to vote on similar measures.

The WP says inside that Defense Secretary William Cohen is saying quite explicitly that in the new budget his department is procuring some weapons not because of service need, but simply to help keep various defense contractors’ production lines open. The paper quotes a Lockheed spokesman expressing the hope that these new stopgap orders will spur international sales. The Post doesn’t connect the dots on this, so here goes: Your tax dollars are being spent to make the defense contractors more comfortable by making U.S. service members more vulnerable.

Pollster/analyst Andrew Kohut reveals in a NYT op-ed that in the New Hampshire primary, women flocked to the Democrats and men to the Republicans in disproportionate numbers, a gender gap he thinks could well determine the general election no matter who the candidates are.

A front-page Wall Street Journal feature reports that the 12-step program for superachievers, Workaholics Anonymous, has hit a rough patch. Main reason cited? The red-hot economy means more workaholics who are too busy to join. Cut to the Journal’s “Work Week” column, which opens with this header: “Big Problem For Small Businesses: A Poor Work Ethic.” This too is said to be caused by the economy: One business owner is quoted as saying, “It’s getting worse because … they know they can walk across the street and get a job.”

The NYT reefers a new book in which two scientists disagree with the conventional scientific wisdom that numerous developed civilizations are likely to be scattered about the cosmos. Meanwhile, as readers of the dailies are only too aware, the search for intelligent life on this planet continues …