Today's Papers

Curses–Not Foiled Again!

The Los Angeles Times leads with “a growing chorus” of influential analysts saying that the Bush administration’s refusal to intervene diplomatically or militarily in Macedonia’s escalating crisis increases the risk once again of a Balkan war destabilizing Southeastern Europe. The Washington Post, while fronting a report on the Macedonian army’s assault on ethnic Albanian rebels, leads with details of the administration’s plan for revising the U.N. sanctions regime against Iraq–the key features include offering neighboring countries discounts on Iraqi oil provided they cooperate in a payment mechanism that will suppress Saddam Hussein’s purchases of military items and cut out oil brokers believed to be paying him kickbacks. USA Today leads with another wash-up from the 2000 census: that the nation’s growing Hispanic population is increasingly living in virtually segregated neighborhoods. The story says that although the average non-Hispanic white lives in a neighborhood that is 6.3 percent Hispanic, the average Hispanic lives in a neighborhood that is 44 percent Hispanic. However, the story waits until its last paragraph to point out that blacks experience even greater residential segregation. The New York Times also fronts a Macedonia situation report but goes with American Bar Association data indicating that at the beginning of the fall semester, women will probably be the majority gender among the nation’s law students. The story points out that 40 years ago, only 4 percent of first-year law students were women. Everybody’s front nods to the Oscars. The LAT Web site has the most in-depth coverage, even offering among its red-carpet pictures one listed as “Jennifer Lopez (front)” and another as “Jennifer Lopez (back).”

The LAT lead identifies the positive features of the Macedonia situation–the ethnic Albanian rebels only number about 1,000, and there has been no government program of “ethnic cleansing” conducted against Macedonia’s Albanian population, who are in the government and the army–but because of the fragility of the region and the limited ability of the Macedonian military, the paper still finds a Brookings wonk willing to say that “We will send U.S. troops. The only question is when and for how long.” The story also invokes the increasingly popular “Dad Did It” journalism stratagem against President Bush, quoting the Brookings guy’s observation that his father’s administration once supported deployment of U.N. troops to Macedonia.

The NYT lead says that the women/law school trend is likely to open up more career opportunities in government policy, politics, and business but also raises worries that it might lead to a “loss of prestige for the profession.” The story reports that despite the trend, the proportion of female judges and lawyers at major law firms “has not kept pace,” offering the example that in New York, where women represent 41 percent of associates, they are fewer than 14 percent of partners. But this is a statistic in a vacuum–what the story needs to address but is silent about is whether the rate of women making partner is changing. The story also suggests that the trend will have an effect on law schools themselves, “perhaps making classes more teamlike and less adversarial.” Isn’t this glib stereotyping? After all, as Bill Maher once observed, that wasn’t exactly a singing telegram Janet Reno sent the Branch Davidians.

A WP fronter says that the long-standing link between income and voting patterns is weakening at an accelerating rate. As recently as the 1988 presidential election, voters making more than $50,000 per year voted Republican by a 25-percentage-point margin. But in last year’s election, says the paper, the spread fell to 7 percentage points, and was only 11 percentage points at $100,000.

Everybody reports that Treasury Secretary (and former Alcoa CEO) Paul O’Neill announced on a chat show yesterday he will be selling his several million Alcoa stock shares. Previously O’Neill had resisted, saying that government lawyers said there was no conflict of interest in retaining them. The papers report that his stance had drawn increasing press criticism.

The WP and Wall Street Journal report that data “to be published” in the March issue of BioScience (note to BioScience publisher: Check today’s date, and then fire yourself) shows that although acid rain has been reduced considerably by the Clean Air Act and has since fallen off the radar screen, its presence is still being felt in the Northeast U.S., where it threatens normal plant and fish development and where it would take another 40 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions from industrial plants beyond that required by the CAA to disappear entirely.

USAT fronts an upcoming Esquire story based on Timothy McVeigh’s prison letters. The paper says the letters show no sign of his regret, although they reveal his fondness for The Simpsons and Unforgiven.

The NYT does a quick hit on the annual politico-press schmooze-off known as the Gridiron Dinner, and the WP goes longer. And it’s the Post that has President Bush delivering the prepared joke that when people suggest that he is not actually in control of the White House, Bush says, “To those people, I say … Dick, what do I say?”

A letter writer to the LAT tops that, wondering: “Are you better off now than you were four months ago?”