Today's Papers

America’s Unfunniest Home Video

USA Today, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times each lead with yesterday’s non-conclusion to the Elián González standoff. The New York Times top-fronts Elián but leads instead with the first-ever proposal by the nation’s second-largest teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers, of a rigorous subject-oriented (rather than methodology-oriented) national test all prospective teachers would have to pass. Developed along with this, says the union, should be a national certification system under which a person licensed to teach in one state would thereby be licensed to teach in any other. The LAT also fronts the proposal.

What happened in Miami yesterday, the papers report, is that Elián’s U.S. relatives did not comply with the government’s handover deadline and the government didn’t immediately do anything about it. And then the relatives went into federal court and got a temporary injunction preventing the boy from being taken out of the country (although not, notes the NYT, from being reunited with his father). Although the NYT treats that court decision as being a triumph over the U.S. government for the relatives, the LAT makes the point that it takes the immediate pressure off Janet Reno, giving her some figuring-out time. Meanwhile, a state family court dismissed the effort by Elián’s great-uncle Lázaro to be awarded custody of the boy.

The WP says that Elián’s father, Juan Miguel, was “depressed and outraged” by the videotape of the boy made by the Miami relatives, repeatedly broadcast yesterday, in which he says, “Daddy, I don’t want to go to Cuba.” Both Times have Juan at one point stepping out of the house in suburban Maryland where he’s staying and responding to demonstrators with an obscene hand gesture. Similar zeal is reported outside the house in Miami where Elián’s staying. One supporter, who came down from New Jersey, is quoted in the LAT saying, “We’ll throw ourselves on our bellies if we have to. … Let them kill us here.” And the NYT depicts a dummy of Fidel being stabbed with flags, and then having its head ripped off.

Only the NYT stresses Waco as a brake on Reno’s thinking about what to do next. But the WP says that despite measured comments by Reno, it appears the episode will end with U.S. marshals and Immigration and Naturalization Service agents extracting Elián. Both the WP and NYT run editorials strongly defending the federal government’s right to effect a transfer of the boy back to his father.

The WP off-leads and USAT fronts President Clinton’s remarks yesterday at a newspaper editors’ convention that he doesn’t want and wouldn’t ask for a pardon from his successor. USAT observes that nonetheless Clinton didn’t say he would rule out a pardon if it was offered to him. The papers are right to be so logic-choppy about this topic. At his vice-presidential confirmation hearings, when Gerald Ford was asked whether he might pardon Nixon, he said that the country wouldn’t stand for it. He didn’t say no. The WP says that in dismissing the Whitewater allegations against him and his wife, Clinton urged editors to read two new books supporting that point of view. The Post screws up in not passing along their titles.

The Wall Street Journal reports Microsoft has acknowledged that some of its engineers hid a secret password in some of its Internet software that makes it possible to illicitly access hundreds of thousands of Internet sites world-wide. A company official is quoted saying the move is “a firing offense” for the as-yet unidentified employees. The offending code includes the comment “Netscape engineers are weenies!”

Your stamp dollars at work. The WP fronts an exclusive: The U.S. Postal Service spent $142,311 to move one of its executives 10 miles and $105,817 to move another 30 miles. (One of the men makes $145,000, the other almost $152,000, the paper adds.) The paper points out that this comes while the USPS is plumping for a one-cent increase in the cost of a first-class stamp.

The WP passes along accusations (first aired on MSNBC, the paper says) that in Washington, D.C., is redlining. The allegation is that the areas the online convenience store serves in Washington are 75 percent white, while the areas it does not serve are 86 percent African-American.

A WSJ front-page feature depicts a significant trend for the modern workplace: increased desk dining. Walls, furniture, and carpets are taking hits big-time, but the biggest casualty is the desktop computer. To fend off the threats to computer health posed by soda, soup, bread crumbs, and potato chips, one popular device is the … keyboard condom.


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