Today's Papers

Miami Vices

Everybody leads with the latest depressing unemployment figure: 4.9 percent of Americans were unemployed in August, a four-year high and a half a percentage point above July. News of the number triggered a tumble on Wall Street. The Washington Post seems to be the most alarmed. It runs a three-column headline announcing, “Unemployment Jumps” and then fronts two other The-Apocalypse-Is-Upon-Us-related stories (“Markets Plunge Again” and “Economic Report Ignites Blame Game”). The New York Times and Los Angeles Times stick with smaller headlines.

The papers all seem to agree on what the numbers mean: It’s bad. But each paper provides a different bit of context: While LAT and WP stick with the “four year high” quotes, the NYT notes that it’s been 11 years since manufacturers cut so many jobs. The Times also reminds readers exactly who is counted as unemployed–i.e., not the 4.86 million people who say they want jobs but haven’t looked for work in four weeks. The LAT and WP both note that August’s unemployment rate for African-Americans jumped even more dramatically, from 7.9 percent in July to 9.1 percent.

The papers go inside with news that the General Accounting Office, Congress’s investigative agency, is considering suing the White House. The potential suit comes because the GAO is trying to force the administration to release records that would reveal whether the White House’s energy plan was unduly influenced by industry lobbyists. If the GAO does end up suing–and according to the head of the agency, “at this point in time it looks likely”–it will be the first time the GAO has sued another federal agency. While the NYT and WP headline word of the potential “suit,” the LAT never uses the s-word. It simply says the GAO may seek a “court order.”

The NYT fronts and the other papers stuff the arrest of 13 Miami police officers, who are accused of planting guns at the scenes of crimes, making up evidence, and lying to investigators. In one case, two petty thieves were shot in the back while running from police–cops later “found” a gun on each man. 

The NYT off-leads with an interview with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The piece lacks any breaking news. But it does highlight some tough talk from Sharon. The Prime Minister called Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority “a kingdom of terror” and said–somewhat repetitively–that Arafat had “formed a coalition of terror.” Sharon also endorsed the idea of a military buffer zone between Israel and the Palestinian territories. According to the Times, Sharon “has given almost no interviews” since coming into office. 

The LAT fronts and the other papers go inside with Jimmy Hoffa news. No, he hasn’t been found. But a strand of his hair has. The FBI announced yesterday that it had matched Hoffa’s DNA with hair found in the car of one of his friends, a longtime suspect in the disappearance. The friend has always claimed that Hoffa was never in the car.

Columbia professor Frank Flynn has had an eventful summer. According to a letter he sent to a swanky New York restaurant, Flynn and his wife were celebrating their wedding anniversary by enjoying some fine dining when he came down with food poisoning: “Our special romantic evening became reduced to my wife watching me curl up in a fetal position on the tiled floor of our bathroom between rounds of throwing up.” But that was only the beginning of the professor’s troubles. As the NYT reports, Flynn also sent the letter to 239 other restaurants–all part of a study he devised to determine how businesses respond to consumer complaints. A few weeks later, many of the restaurants received another piece of correspondence from the professor: a letter of apology.