Today's Papers

WorldCommie Conspiracy

USA Today and the Washington Post lead with the likelihood that the FDA will propose tight restrictions on women’s access to the abortion drug RU-486. The late metro edition of the New York Times goes with a regional story with a national point: the New Jersey Democratic Senate primary victory of Jon Corzine, who spent an all-time, all-place record $35 million–of his own money. The Times says Corzine spent $2 million yesterday alone. The Los Angeles Times has its own local lead with national facets: The Los Angeles board of education has picked a former governor of Colorado and Democratic National Committee chairman, Roy Romer, to be the city’s next school superintendent.

Both RU-486 leads cite as their primary sources abortion-rights advocates, who tell the papers that the FDA is planning to establish a special registry of doctors permitted to dispense the drug. Also, prescribing doctors would be required to be trained in doing surgical abortions and have admitting privileges at a hospital within one hour of their offices. Both papers say that such rules are diminishing hopes that the use of the pill would become quite widespread, thus making abortion decisions more private and more feasible.

The LAT is alone among the majors in fronting the agreement by WorldCom, the nation’s second-largest long-distance company, to pay the federal government $3.5 million to settle consumer complaints that the company switched customers’ long-distance carriers without their consent, which is an illegal practice known as “slamming.” (The story doesn’t explain how paying the government helps disgruntled consumers.) The story points out that WorldCom had a powerful incentive to clean up the slamming issue–it still needs FCC approval for its $120 billion merger with Sprint. The paper says that the payout is a record but still only represents one-fourth of a day’s profits for the company. And the LAT unblinkingly reports that company honcho Bernard Ebbers said the incidents were “perpetrated by a few sales employees.” This would have been the right place in the article to note that there were some 2,900 slamming complaints lodged against the company last year alone, instead of where this nugget actually runs, many paragraphs away.

Similar slip-sliding is on display in the item reefered in the Wall Street Journal front-page biz news box about the fine of $200,000 levied against J.P. Morgan, for systematic failures to honor customers’ limit orders–orders to make a transaction at no less or no more than a stipulated price. The story notes that the faulty executions took place over a 21-month period, but doesn’t attempt to find out what sort of profit accumulated over that time-frame as a result. Today’s Papers is guessing it was a smidge more than $200,000.

The NYT goes inside with word that the Democratic Party will begin a $25 million TV ad campaign on behalf of Al Gore. The paper points out that in using soft money to help defray the cost of the campaign, Democrats are breaking with Gore’s own previous proposal to George W. Bush that the two candidates abjure fueling advertising with soft money. The story quotes the Democrats’ chairman saying the proposal is not violated, but moot, since Bush rejected it. The WSJ plays the development on the top of its front-page worldwide news index, describing the Gore position there as pledging “not to be the first to use the weapon,” which is different than the Times account, and indeed, is different from what the Journal story says inside; there, it’s stated that Gore had promised to forgo soft-money TV ads only as long as Bush did and that the Republicans have in fact already used soft money to finance some Bush ads in California.

The WP reports that Amnesty International accused NATO yesterday of unlawfully killing civilians during the Kosovo war and called one bombing run that killed 16 people a war crime. The paper says NATO called the allegations “baseless,” but also that NATO acknowledged that it had made some mistakes leading to civilian deaths (actually, the organization’s official statement says “mistakes were made”). Unfortunately the paper doesn’t press for more detail on these mistakes and runs the story on Page 26.