Today's Papers

Yo Quiero Genetically Engineered Taco Shells!

The Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Washington Post all lead with President Clinton’s order yesterday to sell 30 million barrels of oil from the nation’s emergency reserve over the next month to help reduce surging oil prices and ensure a supply for the coming winter. As all papers point out in the second sentence, Clinton’s decision came the day after Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore made the rising cost of oil a campaign issue by denouncing “big oil” and calling for a dip into reserves. The WP off-leads with the disclosure by the Clintons of their overnight guest list since July 1999, when first lady Hillary Clinton began her U.S. Senate campaign. The disclosure was aimed to squelch buzz that Hillary was trading sleepovers in the Lincoln Bedroom for campaign dollars. The NYT off-leads an account of Israel’s consideration of previously “unthinkable” negotiating ideas with the Palestinians, such as relinquishing the sacred Temple Mount to United Nations control, in order to end the current deadlock. The LAT off-leads with the ruling by British judges that doctors may operate to separate conjoined twins, even though one of the babies will die and their parents are against the operation.

President Clinton decided to release oil from emergency reserves because inventories have dropped low enough to pose a risk of a shortage this winter. According to the NYT, Clinton made his decision after talking Tuesday to Gore, who said he was planning to call for the release in order to stabilize oil prices. Experts cited by the NYT say that short-term benefits to consumers–an immediate reduction in crude oil costs and potential reduction in gasoline prices–are merely a drop in the bucket for this long-term shortage. Though the WP shies away from this issue, the NYT points out that it’s a little too convenient that the vice president came out smelling like roses by Band-Aiding the oil shortage just in time to convince Americans that they won’t be freezing on the way to the polls in November.

The nation’s most famous public housing seems to have been operating at peak capacity since Hillary began her “listening tour” in July 1999: The White House and Camp David together have hosted an average of nearly 29 overnight visitors per month. The 404 guests of the Clintons include Democratic Party fund-raising all-stars as well as contributors to the president’s legal defense fund and future presidential library. Naturally, there is much speculation as to whether or not the donors “were merely renting out these taxpayer-owned monuments like a cheap motel,” as senatorial opponent Rick Lazio’s campaign manager told the WP; regardless, Hillary herself has pointed out that the majority of the guests did not produce a monetary hostess gift. Seventy-seven overnight guests contributed a total of $108,000 to her campaign and 46 gave $516,000 to related fund-raising campaigns, according to a Washington research group.

All three papers go above the fold with the news that American, European, and Japanese central banks have stepped in to prop up the sleepy euro by buying billions of euros with dollars, yen, and British pounds. As a result, the embryonic European single currency rose above 90 cents for the first time in three weeks. The surprise rescue effort came in response to what the banks perceived as a threat to the world economy. The big surprise was that the U.S. Treasury secretary (and the Clinton administration) had previously opposed calls for intervention, says the NYT. Proof that all world developments have campaign fodder potential, the WP reports that analysts saw politics as a reason for holding back help: “A cheaper dollar, the logic went, might disrupt the U.S. economy and undermine Al Gore’s election prospects in November.” It’s unlikely that Americans who could never dream of affording a European vacation will be comforted by the fact that U.S. funds may, as the WP predicts, boost the European economy and profits of U.S. companies whose European business has suffered.

The LAT is the only paper that fronts coverage of tomorrow’s election in Yugoslavia. According to numerous inside sources cited by the LAT, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who has been indicted by an international tribunal on war crimes charges, will in all likelihood attempt to win the election through vote fraud. It remains to be seen whether or not he will win this election or a possible second round. “The hope,” the LAT quotes a U.S. official, “is that ordinary Yugoslavs will see for themselves what a fraud Milosevic has been all along and will finally get rid of him.”

All three papers front word that in the first-ever product recall of a food because of genetically engineered ingredients, Taco Bell has recalled taco shells from supermarkets and its 7,000 restaurants nationwide, even though no illnesses have been reported. The LAT quotes a Kraft spokeswoman that the bioengineered corn found in the shells “was approved for animal use, not for use in food.” Today’s Papers wonders if that includes Chihuahuas.