Today's Papers

Boies Will Be Boies

Because America’s first-string news makers and digesters were putting in one last day at the barbecue, the change in Mexico’s government gets another day of heavy play, leading at the Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times. The Wall Street Journal is able to shoehorn into its front not just a Mexico thumbsucker but also a no-holds-barred exposé of how that national scourge, paper cuts, can be cured with Krazy Glue. USA Today leads with the likelihood that Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to boost oil production could cut the U.S. pump price of gasoline 10 cents or more per gallon by August. That is, adds the paper, unless U.S. refineries are already running at full capacity and so won’t be able to use the extra, cheaper Saudi oil at the moment. (Isn’t the relative production rate of U.S. refineries something the paper could have found out?)

The Mexico leads report on President-elect Vicente Fox’s remarks at a lengthy news conference, primarily focusing on his stated intention to root out government corruption. Both the NYT and the WP run Fox’s comment that the U.S. has been wrong to “put up walls, police and soldiers to fight immigration,” while Mexico has been wrong in “allowing 350,000 young people to cross the border each year and washing its hands of any responsibility.” The NYT says that Fox mentioned Mexico’s role in drug trafficking to the U.S. as something he aims to address, but it gives no details on his stance. The WP adds only a little more, saying that Fox “repeated the mantra of the Zedillo administration that the United States has not done enough to slow the consumption of illegal drugs among its citizens.” The LAT devotes much space in its lead to the post-election strategizing of the defeated PRI, but doesn’t mention Fox’s comments on immigration or drugs.

The NYT highlights a study in last month’s American Sociological Review that seems to show the academic problems of low-birth-weight babies are far more dramatic than has ever previously been documented. Principal finding: Babies weighing less than 5.5 lbs. at birth are almost 4 times less likely to graduate from high school. One consequence the story doesn’t mention: Here’s another reason to be against not only pregnant women smoking, drinking, and/or drugging, but also against the current promiscuous use of reproductive therapy that frequently produces litters of tiny babies.

The WP goes deep inside with the motion filed recently by Wen Ho Lee’s attorneys claiming that the case against him is one of selective prosecution in which he was singled out because he is a Chinese-American. The court papers include a sworn declaration by the former Los Alamos counterintelligence chief saying that “racial profiling was a crucial component in the FBI’s identifying Dr. Lee as a suspect.”

The WSJ reports that Napster, now that its settlement talks with several record labels and music industry associations have dried up, has mounted a legal defense against copyright infringement charges: Napster users’ sharing of MP3 files is covered by the same “fair use” doctrine that allows someone to tape a CD for their own use. The paper reports the company is being assisted now in making such arguments by David Boies.

The LAT and NYT fronts feature exquisite photos from yesterday’s tall ships extravaganza in New York harbor. The accompanying stories mention that President Clinton, who viewed the festivities from an aircraft carrier, at one point was introduced by a Honduran female crewmember who had just become a U.S. citizen in a flight deck ceremony. Question the papers don’t answer: How can a non-citizen join the U.S. military? How many have? When so few U.S. citizens do, are we therefore in danger of drifting toward a truly mercenary armed force like the Hessians or the French Foreign Legion? Or is this a great way to train and socialize immigrants while meeting our military personnel shortfall?