Today's Papers

Senate Chairs Comfortable With Vote

The Washington Post leads with (and nobody else fronts) Census Bureau statistics showing that the U.S. Hispanic population has grown so rapidly that contrary to demographers’ expectations, it now is roughly as large as the U.S. African-American population–about 35 million people. The paper also says that 5 percent of U.S. African-Americans reported themselves as multiracial, another surprisingly large figure. USA Today and the Los Angeles Times lead with (and the other majors front) the Senate’s “unusually rapid” (says the LAT) vote to repeal rules promulgated by the Clinton administration (but not yet implemented) that would have provided workers with sweeping new protections and remedies relating to on-the-job repetitive stress injuries. All 50 of the Senate’s Republicans as well as six Democrats (mostly Southerners) voted to kill. The papers explain that repeal also requires agreement by the House, where a vote is scheduled today. The New York Times leads with (and nobody else fronts) the top Marine general’s decision to look at proven helicopter models as a possible alternative to the crash- and problem-plagued experimental V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. The paper says this decision does not mean the Marines have given up on the Osprey, but it is the first clear acknowledgement by the service that the program is in peril.

The WP lead says the unexpected increase in the Hispanic population is due not just to previous poor counting but also to high levels of immigration. And yet the story never says how many illegal aliens the Census Bureau discovered. Is that the CB’s squeamishness and/or the Post’s?

The work rules coverage says that before the Senate vote, the Bush White House came out against the regs officially, citing the already widespread Republican concerns about their alleged burdensome cost to private businesses. Both the USAT and LAT leads explain that the vote was made possible by a never-before-used 4-year-old law, which Republicans are likely to wield again to strike down other Clinton-era business regulations. And yet, the LAT reminds, the idea of federal intervention via workplace ergonomics rules was first raised by a Republican secretary of labor, Elizabeth Dole. Uncertainty about the true extent of workplace ergonomic injuries can be gathered from the papers’ stats. USAT cites rule-supporters’ claim that 1.8 million workers suffer damage, the NYT says the rules were expected to prevent 500,000 injuries a year, and the LAT says such injuries force 600,000 workers a year to take time off.

The Wall Street Journal tops its front-page biz news box with (and everybody else has) a federal judge’s order yesterday requiring Napster to purge its Web site of all copyrighted music specified by the big record labels. The Journal says this means “the end of the 18-month-long music downloading binge the service made possible,” although not the end of the company’s financial exposure–a trial on past damages is expected later this year.

Under a headline referring to an Iraqi “PAYOFF RACKET,” the NYT front reports charges by U.N. diplomats that Iraqi officials have begun to demand kickbacks and illegal commissions on contracts for food, medicine, and other civilian essentials sold to the country under the U.N.-supervised “oil for food” program. If taking place, the paper explains, this scheme would be diverting money intended to help a population suffering under international sanctions to a “slush fund” for Saddam Hussein, his associates, and perhaps for his weapons projects. The Iraqi ambassador to the U.N. tells the paper the allegations aren’t true.

Again today, the NYT seems to have the most new nuggets on the Greeneville inquiry. The paper reports that an admiral who did the Navy’s preliminary investigation into the sub’s collision with a Japanese trawler testified that two officers on board–one of them outranking the sub’s skipper–did not voice doubts they had about the way the ship was conducting its quick surfacing maneuver. The admiral also testified that some important crew members were left ashore on the fatal day. One question none of the papers have raised: Since submarine emergency escape procedures require a lot of specialized training, what was the Navy’s plan for the civilians if there had been a problem on board that kept the Greeneville submerged?

The papers go inside with the indictment on various federal charges yesterday of a woman once employed by the Bush-for-president media shop, on charges connected with Bush debate prep materials pseudonymously sent to a key Gore adviser during the campaign.

Well what do you know? Ralph Nader shows up today on an op-ed page. And it’s the WSJ’s! And he has nice things to say about President George W. Bush! Sorta. Nader applauds rumblings from the Bush administration about possibly cutting three corporate welfare programs and challenges Bush to also go after dozens of other government operations whose primary beneficiaries are large corporations. Of course, if Nader were consistent with his presidential candidacy position that it wouldn’t be bad if Bush got elected because things had to get worse before they could get better, shouldn’t he be supporting funding increases for all this stuff?

USAT’s front fascinates with a longo on the phenomenon of sports stars selling their most valuable trophies, a phenomenon apparently widespread among some of athletitude’s more prominent blowers of money and asentimentalists. We’re talking Super Bowl rings, folks. And Heisman trophies. In recent years three Heismans (yes, including O.J.’s) have been auctioned off. Billy Sims tried to auction off his, but was kept from doing so by complications having to do with the child-support payments he owed. The story IDs such other pituitary purveyors as Mercury Morris, Mickey Rivers, Steve Carlton, Lester Hayes, and Refrigerator Perry.

The WP goes inside with news, first reported by the Chicago Tribune, that in response to a complaint filed with the IRS by a conservative group, Jesse Jackson has released documents with some interesting holes in them. For instance, they don’t mention the woman with whom he admitted fathering an out-of-wedlock child even though federal tax law required she be listed because of the amount of money he admitted having paid her in consulting fees. In fact, says the Post, the paperwork doesn’t list the names of any firms or individuals with outside consulting contracts for 1999, even though Jackson’s various organizations reported paying nearly $1 million in consulting fees that year. Journalism question: Why did the Tribune and the Post and the NYT and the rest of the majors wait until the National Legal and Policy Center of McLean, Va., got curious about this?