Today's Papers

The Slobo Always Rises

All three papers lead with today’s 5 p.m. recount deadline in Florida. However, countless lawsuits have ensured that whoever emerges as the victor this evening will win merely a public relations battle. (On Friday the U.S. Supreme Court will hear George W. Bush’s argument that the Florida Legislature, not the courts, has final authority over state election law. The hearing is Bush’s appeal of last week’s decision by the Florida Supreme Court that hand recounts completed before Monday be included in the final vote tally.) Bush filed a lawsuit in four Florida counties attempting to reinstate–for Sunday’s count–overseas military ballots that have been disqualified. Broward County finished its hand count, which cut Bush’s lead in half. Palm Beach County, which is using a stricter standard for counting “dimpled” ballots, has produced only a handful of new Gore votes and may not finish its manual count by today’s deadline.

Gore, all the papers note, plans to keep fighting whatever today’s outcome and will defend his legal challenge in a statement Monday. Meanwhile, his campaign has been lining up titans like former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and (reports the Los Angeles Times) former President Jimmy Carter to demonstrate that party leaders still support their candidate’s legal appeals. The Washington Post notes that many prominent politicians–including the governors of New Jersey, Montana, and Oklahoma–are acting as observers of the hand recounts. (Don’t these people have day jobs?) (For Slate’s complete election coverage, click here.)

The New York Times off-leads, and the other papers front, the last-minute breakdown of a proposed treaty to fight global warming. The United States claimed that because its vast forests clean the air, it shouldn’t have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as the Europeans, who don’t have compensating greenlands. The European Union–whose Green parties wield much more influence than their counterparts in the U.S.–viewed this stance as a cop-out.

All three papers reefer below the fold (the LAT with a photo) the re-election of Slobodan Milosevic as leader of Yugoslavia’s Socialist Party. Milosevic, who had no opposition, called his Oct. 25 ouster as Yugoslav president a “coup” backed by “paid Western spies.” The party hopes to stage a comback through parliamentary elections Dec. 23. The LAT notes that Milosivic lives in a Belgrade villa formerly owned by Yugoslav dictator Marshal Josip Tito. The house, notes the paper, includes “12 teacups made of gold from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and a silver tray from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.” (To read Slate’s Anne Applebaum on how rumors of Milosevic’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, click here.)

The NYT  publishes a well-meaning but banal op-ed on the Middle East by actor Kirk Douglas. Douglas’ conclusion? We should pursue peace in the name of future generations. “The children deserve a chance to succeed where we failed,” he writes. “The kids [of today] could do it, if only we stopped putting hatred into young minds, generation after generation.” The Post, by contrast, publishes a dense but edifying summary, by Jimmy Carter, of Middle East negotiations over the past 25 years. Carter’s conclusion? Peace will never happen until Israel stops building Jewish settlements in disputed territory.

The NYT runs a long piece on digital film’s takeover of the movie industry. Theaters in many large cities will have digital-projection capability within two to three years; in a year and a half the first Hollywood blockbuster shot entirely on a digital camera–Star Wars: Episode II–will be released. For filmmakers, this revolution means: 1) Lower production costs–videotape for the new Star Wars cost $15,000, compared to the $2.5 million usually spent on film stock and development. 2) Lower distribution costs–studios can zap the films to theaters electronically and forgo the $800 million a year spent on making copies. 3) Efficient editing–a director can review a scene immediately after a take, and during post-production she can add digital effects and make sophisticated cuts without hassle. These benefits, the article predicts, will enable more independent directors to work outside the studio system. Moreover, effortless digital download and projection will enable cineplexes to show feed of live concerts, Broadway shows, or business conferences during off-peak hours.

So, Augustus and Nero Walk Into A Bar…

 Correction in the NYT:

Because of a production error, a letter to the editor on Page 2 in some copies of Arts & Leisure today, recalling a performance 8 or 10 years ago in Seattle by veteran television comedians, was published inadvertently and without fact checking. It refers to the two comedians incorrectly. Imogene Coca is not deceased, and her partner was Sid Caesar, not Caeser.