Today's Papers

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All three papers lead with the news that before dawn today, Serbian special forces firing automatic weapons stormed the residence of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. According to the Los Angeles Times, the operation occurred at 1:30 a.m., shortly after Milosevic’s appearance on TV greeting supporters at the gates of his Belgrade compound. The LAT characterizes the efforts to arrest Milosevic as having failed and claims the police were forced to retreat as two officers were injured by fire from Milosevic’s “illegal” guards. As of daybreak, officials said, Milosevic remained in his home, having refused arrest. According to the New York Times, the Bush administration received word on Friday afternoon that Milosevic was in custody on corruption charges. But as the evening progressed, so did the confusing counterclaims about whether Milosevic was arrested, released, or sitting at home drinking coffee with friends. Writes the Washington Post: “The shooting later quieted down but Milosevic’s status remained unclear.”

Previous to the storming, there were contradictory reports from Serbian government officials as to whether Milosevic was already under arrest. The WP alleges that top Serbian officials privately admitted Milosevic had been arrested after negotiations between police and army soldiers guarding the residence or Milosevic’s personal bodyguards. The NYT claims that a government statement today would disclose Milosevic’s status.

Today is the deadline the U.S. Congress set for Yugoslavia to either show cooperation with a U.N. war crimes tribunal and make other policy changes or face a cutoff of millions of dollars in U.S. aid. The Serbian government has refused to turn Milosevic over to the tribunal but was hoping to appease the U.S. by arresting him on domestic charges, writes the WP. (If corruption charges are brought against him, he’d be tried locally.) Regardless, the WP calls these actions “the first assertive steps” by Yugoslavia’s new democratic government to bring Milosevic to trial for war crimes. The tribunal is investigating Milosevic for war crimes allegedly committed in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo. On Monday, Colin Powell is expected to report whether Yugoslavia is cooperating with the tribunal.

The WP goes above the fold with the Bush administration suspension yesterday of an 11th-hour Clinton rule. The rule “would have significantly strengthened” federal agencies’ ability to deny government contracts to violators of federal laws regarding workplace safety, the environment, and the like. While Clintonites claimed the law would have reduced risk and abuse, supporters of the suspension think the current law is fine as is. Says a U.S. Chamber of Commerce VP: “Government agents would have had virtually unlimited, arbitrary power to decide who could compete for the government’s business.” The suspension is good for nine months, and the public has 60 days to comment–at which point the Bush administration may revise or revoke it, writes the WP.

UNESCO reversed a 30-year-old policy yesterday by joining the struggle to safely spirit Afghan art away from the threat of the destruction by the Taliban, vandals, and looters, reports a NYT above-the-folder. The Japanese have offered to chip in for a mission to Pakistan, where numerous missing Afghan artworks are thought to have been taken. According to one scholar-activist, the destruction of ancient art “is not only an aesthetic crime, but also a scientific crime as ghastly as destroying paleontological evidence.”

A WP fronter explains that the latest safety mantra in schools isn’t stop, drop, and roll, it’s “duck and cower.” An offshoot of nuclear war, fire, and storm drills, the code red drill or “lockdown”–dating back to the early 1990s in some parts of the country–teaches students, teachers, and administrators how to survive in the event of a school shooting. Further measures include increased police presence, see-through backpacks, and “crash” kits, including bullhorns and cell phones, for principals. Countered one Maryland student: “They’re trying to get us to live our whole high school careers in fear of our lives.”

So who made New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s list for a decency panel to review art in publicly financed museums? According to the NYT, the list was “quietly circulating” City Hall yesterday, and included a Queens pastor, a rabbi, a former Nixon administration official, and the mayor’s own divorce lawyer among its 20 names. Though the mayor feels the public shouldn’t have to support museums displaying “offensive” art, the NYT is quick to point out that the decency list’s Peter Max, an artist, pleaded guilty to charges of concealing $1.1 million in income from the IRS, while Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern is facing an EEOC finding that there is “reasonable cause” to believe his agency illegally discriminated on the basis of race. Giuliani hopes to announce his panel in the next week or two, according to the NYT.