Today's Papers

Gas Pains

Gasoline and drugs front the day’s papers. The Los Angeles Times   leads with OPEC’s decision to raise output a mere 3 percent–not enough to lower prices in the U.S. USA Today  leads with the Federal Trade Commission’s plan  to subpoena nine oil companies under suspicion of price-gouging in the Midwest. The New York Times  and Washington Post lead with the Senate’s approval of more than $1 billion in foreign aid to help the Colombian government combat drug-running guerrillas. The Post calls the aid a “massive escalation of U.S. military involvement in Colombia” but doesn’t say what we were giving before. The Times describes the Colombian situation as “a civil conflict so convoluted that two leftist guerrilla armies are fighting the government, right-wing paramilitary forces are fighting the guerrillas, guerrillas are providing paid protection to drug traffickers, and civilians are trapped in the middle.” (The LAT and USAT run this story inside–the LAT with an Associated Press dispatch and USAT with a one-paragraph blurb.)

Every paper fronts  the possible discovery of water on Mars. The Mars Global Surveyor spotted signs of recent water-flow, which could indicate water just beneath the surface. Water is known to exist in the planet’s ice caps, but no water had been found elsewhere. If subsuface water exists, it could be used by human colonists for drinking, as well as for breathing and rocket fuel through chemical separation.

The NYT, USAT, the LAT, and the Wall Street Journal report that Sprint and WorldCom are scrambling to save their merger from rejection by European Union regulators. The companies are trying to persuade the U.S. Justice Department to approve the merger–provided that they spin off nearly all their long-distance assets–in the hopes that the DOJ’s approval will persuade the EU to reverse its decision. (The LAT is the only paper to credit the Post with breaking this story yesterday–although this admission would carry more weight if it weren’t in a Reuters dispatch and buried in the business section.) The Post writes that the EU is giving a skeptical eye to many U.S. mergers, including AOL-Time Warner and Boeing-Hughes Electronics. Although some business analysts accuse Europe of petty nationalism, most note that EU regulators are in constant communication with, and are mostly in agreement with, U.S. regulators.

On the LAT opinion page, Dan Quayle takes it upon himself to advise the presidential candidates how to choose a running mate. Don’t pick based on ideology, writes Quayle, or geography, or temperament, or status within the party. Use just one criterion: the ability to serve well as president.

The Journal reviews the Experience Music Project, Paul Allen’s funky Seattle museum, which opens tomorrow. The verdict? It’s swoopy (“the [Bilbao] Guggenheim on acid”), tech-savvy (a portable, 3-pound hard drive guides each visitor), hands-on (3-D karaoke), and a lot of fun. Not only that, but it has a mother lode of Hendrix curios, including:

the last existing piece of the guitar he smashed and burned at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, the robe he wore at Woodstock, and his handwritten lyric book for Electric Ladyland. The heroin paraphernalia he killed himself with are not included.