Today's Papers

Exit From Eliánville

The Washington Post, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal all lead with Elián. The New York Times off-leads with the boy and instead goes with a “he said, she said” piece on the labor movement’s opposition to a number of free-trade bills, most significantly, the current bill to open up trade with China. Labor officials say they are just trying to ensure that workers’ rights are protected worldwide. Critics accuse labor of being shortsighted and protectionist. The Los Angeles Times leads with new developments in the Los Angeles Ramparts Division police scandal. 

The Elián news is mostly fallout from the Justice Department’s Saturday morning operation to reunite the child with his father. There are few new developments. A number of lawmakers, including House Republican Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., are calling for an investigation into the raid. They have an unlikely ally. The NYT’s lead editorial also has a harsh assessment of the operation. “The Justice Department acted rashly and unwisely in ordering the raid.” USAT leads with an account of the raid based on Aaron Podhurst, the Miami attorney who was trying to broker a deal when the feds came to claim Elián. Podhurst’s perspective is not exactly a PR coup for Janet Reno. “This is a great tragedy,” he told USAT. “We could be celebrating democracy in its finest hour. Instead we have pain.” LAT fronts a piece quoting several legal experts saying that the Justice Department could have waited to get a court order, which might have increased the pressure enough on Elián’s relatives to cause them to give up the child voluntarily. The WSJ’s Elián coverage emphasizes that the courts will likely rule that Mr. Gonzalez can bring his son back to Cuba–but it will take months.
Both the WP and USAT off-lead with news that the Justice Department (which must be very busy these days) may ask the court to break up Microsoft  to make amends for its violations of antitrust laws. Both papers report that the proposal calls for Bill’s company to spin off Windows. The WP puts the potential proposal in perspective. This is the first time that the government has proposed the breakup of a company since the antitrust case against AT&T in 1974. The WSJ, where the proposal tops the business box, dismisses the possibility of a Windows divestiture and instead says that the proposal will most likely call for Microsoft to spin off its Office software package. In any case, as USAT points out, the proposal, even if the court agreed with it, would take at least a few years to implement because of the appeals process. In the end, the proposal might just amount to a smart bargaining tactic by the Justice Department to get Microsoft to negotiate.

 The NYT fronts an analysis of Gov. George W. Bush’s health-care plan. The article focuses on the political savvyness of the plan and waits until the 14th paragraph to describe what the plan is: a tax-credit to help people with low income pay for private insurance. Political analysts think it’s a winner. Health experts are skeptical. 

The LAT leads with news that the Los Angeles district attorney is about to press charges against three police officers for framing a suspect. This is the latest round in Los Angeles’ widening Ramparts police scandal. So far, 67 felony cases have been dismissed because of alleged police misconduct and 70 police officers are under investigation. The paper says these three arrests may be the precursor to “a much bigger case.” 

The LAT off-leads with Iran’s “apparent head-on assault” on reformist newspapers. An Iranian court, with the support of the country’s “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has ordered five of the papers closed and the arrest of one newspaper publisher. The crackdown is a setback for Iran’s reform-minded President Mohammed Khatami. 
The WSJ news box highlights the newest beneficiaries of low unemployment: felons. Apparently, unemployment is so low in some areas of the country that some employers are putting their hesitations aside and hiring ex-cons. Often, the WSJ reports, the felons turn out to be good employees. Take Ben Laws. Six years ago, he stabbed a man six times and was convicted of manslaughter. Now he is a star car salesmen. What’s his secret to success? According to Mr. Laws’ boss, “He dresses to kill.”