Today's Papers

Bin Laden a Huge Jane Austen Fan

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times lead on Clinton’s trip to Moscow for a two-day summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (the Washington Post runs the story inside). Administration officials described the first night’s meeting between the leaders as serious but cordial. The two discussed international security, the conflicts in the Balkans and the Caucasus, trade relations, and economic reform. The WP leads (and the LAT fronts) a congressional panel’s proposal aimed at fighting global terrorism. The panel’s recommendations include monitoring all foreign students enrolled in U.S. schools and relaxing some restrictions on the CIA’s use of informants.

The most delicate issue at the Moscow summit is the U.S. proposal to amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and move ahead with a national anti-missile defense system. Russian leaders have refused the proposal on the grounds that it would jeopardize 30 years of arms-control agreements and would shift the balance of nuclear power in favor of the United States. The NYT notes that the meetings might not be as productive as hoped for because of the differences in Clinton’s and Putin’s positions: Clinton is at the end of his term and eager to put a coda on his foreign policy record, but the newly elected Putin might wait to see who sits in the Oval Office next November before he enters into substantive negotiations with the United States.

The National Commission on Terrorism, composed of six Republicans and four Democrats, has called for increased spending, stricter measures against terrorist fund-raising in the United States, and increased pressure on other countries for cooperation in counterterrorist efforts. The WP notes that the commission’s 64-page report, to be delivered Monday, also recommends making it less difficult for the CIA to recruit counterterrorist informants with criminal records, imposing sanctions on Greece and Pakistan for “not cooperating fully” against terrorism, and expanding a program that tracks foreign students and could notify officials when a foreign student switches his or her major from, for example, “English literature to nuclear physics.” The report is sure to raise strong objections from human rights activists and civil libertarians.

The LAT off-leads a review of the rise and fall of Rezulin, a drug prescribed for adult-onset diabetes. Rezulin was fast-tracked for FDA approval in 1997 and then removed from the market in March of this year after it caused 63 deaths from liver failure as well as thousands of liver injuries. The case illuminates the problems that arose when medical ethics were pitted against the promise of huge revenues for Warner-Lambert, the drug company that manufactured Rezulin.

The WP fronts George Bush’s remarks in a recent speech on arms control. Bush has called for removing some intercontinental ballistic missiles from “hair-trigger” status and for reducing America’s nuclear arsenal. Both measures are illegal under the Republican amendments to the Defense Authorization Act. Wary of infighting, Republican leaders opposed to arms reductions have refrained from criticizing their candidate’s remarks, calling instead for a clarification of his position.

The NYT fronts Ukraine’s announcement that it will close the last operating reactor at Chernobyl within the year. Questions remain, though, about how to pay for the cost of monitoring the radioactive site after it’s been shut down, what to do with the workers who will be displaced, and how to provide adequate power to the region.

The LAT fronts a bill making its way through the British Parliament that would give the government power to monitor all online activity in Britain. Supporters claim the measure is necessary to contend with cyberterrorism and high-tech crime. Opponents include not only civil libertarians, who decry the bill for its Orwellian overtones, but also many conservatives, who argue that such legislation would chase financial institutions and businesses out of Britain for fear that their data and online transactions would not be secure there. The law has passed the House of Commons but will face rigorous scrutiny in the House of Lords next week.

The WP fronts an assessment of Gore’s Russian foreign policy. As vice president, he brought about positive change in health care, space exploration, and nuclear nonproliferation, but he has also been criticized for failing to comprehend the depth of the post-Soviet chaos and for trying to apply neat Western solutions to a non-Western culture.

The LAT runs a front-page piece on the presidential candidacy of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, a member of Mexico’s leftist opposition movement. Cárdenas is generally regarded as a Ross Perot-like spoiler with little chance of winning the election. Nonetheless, his numbers have climbed sharply in recent weeks, and many believe that his mere presence in the race will help his Democratic Revolution Party gain significant ground on the firmly entrenched Institutional Revolutionary Party in the July 2 national congressional elections.