Today's Papers

Spanking the Bank

The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Wall Street Journal all lead with the protests of the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. USA Today reefers the D.C. protests and leads with an analysis of the stock market.

All papers take the roughly the same tack with the protests: Both protesters and police showed relative restraint. The protests didn’t stop the IMF from meeting. But they did get a whole lot of media attention. The WP gives the protests the biggest splash, running a two-third-across headline “Violence Flares Near Blockade.” The LAT, NYT, and USAT all front photos of D.C. scuffling, but none runs a headline as breathless or large as the WP. The papers note that most protesters were nonviolent, but some threw bottles, moved parked cars, and erected makeshift barricades. The WP does the numbers on the police response: one pepper spraying, two smoke grenades, and 20 arrests. According to D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, yesterday’s protests were “a piece of cake.” Han Shan, one of the protest organizers grudgingly agreed. “I think the police have been somewhat professional and competent.” The NYT, LAT, and USAT report that the IMF issued a communiqué that tried to address protesters’ concerns. The NYT has the best coverage of the meeting itself, including news that “Japan staged a minor rebellion” by running a candidate to head the fund. Apparently, that’s a no-no. The IMF has always been headed by a European. 

Not everybody at the IMF protests was girding for battle. From USAT:

“It’s the best party I’ve been to in years,” said Rachel Aaron, 23, dancing topless to reggae music on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House.

The WP goes below the fold with a piece saying that the stock market’s face-plant could be good for the economy since it may cause the Fed to delay raising interest rates. Continuing with the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” theme, the piece also points out that the jump in the consumer price index, the starting gun for Friday’s race to the bottom, may be “an aberration.” The WSJ also acknowledges that the inflation report could be “a fluke.” But the paper also points out that “the anti-inflationary forces of the 1990s are waning.” The NYT also fronts an analysis of the stock market plunge. It reasons that the fall will serve as a catalyst to help separate the strong dot-coms from the weak. “The economic impact of the winnowing will likely be healthy.” The LAT front-page analysis of the stock market compares this bubble to those in the past, including the 1960’s “mini-mania” in bowling stocks. The WSJ plays down the historical perspective and instead adds another reason for Friday’s dive: Brokers making margin calls, calling in their clients’ loans. In order to pay their brokers back, customers are being forced to sell stock. As of the end of March, margin debt stood at a record $278.5 billion.

The NYT fronts an investigative piece on the causes of the Chinese Embassy bombing. Last week, the CIA fired six officers who it blamed for the inadvertent bombing. But the NYT story says that there is plenty more blame to go around. For example, the NATO supreme commander strained resources by pushing for too many targets. At one point, a cook and motor pool worker were corralled to work in the targeting office.

The WP goes below the fold with a “sources say” report that the Pentagon will oppose the sale of advanced naval destroyers to Taiwan. Instead, the Pentagon will recommend the sale of advanced long-range radar. If President Clinton adopts the recommendation, it will likely piss off both Taiwan and
China. The former because it won’t get the destroyers it wants, and the latter because the radar could serve as the beginnings of a missile-defense system. (On the other hand, selling the destroyers would even further destabilize the situation, since Taiwan could use the ships as a ready-made missile defense.)

Following last week’s WP, the NYT goes below the fold with a feature on the potential for a new famine in the Horn of Africa, where as many as 16 million people are at risk. The NYT also an accompanying editorial calling for increased aid. It also urges Eritrea and Ethiopia to end their war, which has drained both countries’ resources.

The LAT also fronts a piece on the effects of the Census Bureau skipping questions on religion. Private organizations have done little research on American’s religious affiliations. As a result, “America’s religious landscape remains surprisingly ill-defined.”

Lastly, if anyone still wonders about the effect of AIDS on people in Africa, the NYT ran this correction today:

A front-page article on April 6 about the role of diamonds in fueling wars in Africa misstated the life expectancy in Botswana, the world’s largest diamond producer. The United Nations says that because of AIDS, the figure has fallen sharply and is 41, no longer close to 70.