Today's Papers

Kim Jong Il, World Traveler

USA Today  and the New York Times   lead with the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to slash the prices that Baby Bells can charge long-distance companies for carrying their calls. This story is reefered by the Los Angeles Times, but the Wall Street Journal puts it far down in it’s front-page “Business and Finance” box and the Washington Post   does not run it. The LAT’s top non-local story is Ethiopia’s declaration that its war with Eritrea is “over.” The Post leads with President Clinton’s remark that it would be “unethical” not to share missile-defense technology with “other civilized nations.” This comment parallels George W. Bush’s remark last week that the U.S. would use its system to shield other countries. All the other papers stuff this story. (The Post runs its story next to a piece  about Russia’s deteriorating satellite technology, which has eroded it’s first-strike-detection capability and heightened its fears about a U.S. missile shield.) The Wall Street Journal tops its front-page “Worldwide” box with an agreement between President Clinton and the European Union protecting the privacy of European customers shopping at American online retailers. The Post puts this story  on its Business front, and a NYT piece–reefered with a front-page picture–stresses the lack of any progress on more major trade disputes.

The long-distance carriers promised the FCC that they would pass the price cut to consumers, but only the LAT   and NYT   make clear that the FCC has no way to enforce this promise. The long-distance companies also promised to stop charging monthly fees to people who make few or no long-distance calls; only the LAT and USAT   note that this includes most Americans–41 percent of the country uses 10 or fewer long-distance minutes a month, and 32 percent of Americans make no long-distance calls. The NYT says that the FCC’s move is the first step toward flat-rate pricing for long distance, similar to mobile-phone pricing. The paper does not explain exactly how this is a first step, or why flat rates are desirable.

Eritrea charged that since Ethiopia holds some of its territory, it will continue fighting. The LAT says  the war has “mushroomed into [Africa’s] most lethal conflict,” but does not provide fatality figures. A page-A15 piece  in the Post stresses the importance of peace talks in Algiers, overseen by U.S. National Security Advisor Anthony Lake.

The LAT   and USAT front George W. Bush’s announcement that he will likely grant a 30-day repreive to death-row inmate Ricky Nolen McGinn so that DNA evidence from the crime scene can be examined. (The NYT reefers  this story, and the Post runs it inside.) Only the LAT has this crucial detail: McGinn would have been put to death on April 27, but a tornado struck the defense attorney’s office and destroyed some paperwork. All the papers note that this would be Bush’s first stay of execution as Texas governor. Question: Why do the LAT and Post  break down Texas executions under Bush into men and women (129 and 2, respectively), but the NYT and USAT simply list the total (131)?

All the papers save USAT report inside  that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Il, ended an unannounced two-day visit to China. It is his first known foreign trip in 17 years, and comes two weeks before the start of a North-South Korean summit.

On Second Thought, Let’s Not Fire the CEO

A correction in the WSJ reads:

Furniture Brands International Inc. said it expects second-quarter earnings to be two cents to three cents a share below analysts’ consensus estimate of 63 cents a share. An article Wednesday incorrectly said the company expects second-quarter earnings of two cents to three cents a share.