Today's Papers

Losing One’s Shirt to Terror

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times lead with (and the Washington Post fronts) the Bush administration’s new rules on medical privacy—which are in some respects looser than those approved by the Clinton administration. The Post leads with the Transportation Security Administration warning airlines to keep an eye out for imposters wearing stolen uniforms.

As the NYT sees it, Bush’s new privacy rules “abandon the core” of the Clinton rules, in that health-care providers will no longer have to obtain written consent from their patients before sharing their medical records. Privacy mavens—consumer advocates, patients’ rights groups, Ted Kennedy—oppose the measure, but it’s of Terry McAuliffe’s response that the Times seems especially fond. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee gets two paragraphs in going out of his way to lambaste Dick Cheney’s energy task force. “It’s O.K. to reveal personal medical information about the American people,” he snarls, “but when the oil companies meet with policy makers to ask for special favors, that’s guarded like a state secret.”

Under the new regs, a pharmacy may not sell patient information to a drug company, but the drug company can pay the pharmacy, or doctor, to recommend a new drug to the patient. Under Clinton, the patient had to be told that her doctor/pharmacy was being paid by the drug company and she could opt out of receiving such endorsements in the future, the LAT reports. Those two safeguards are now gone.

The WP lead reports a “series of recent thefts” of airline uniforms, but only two are actually cited, one in May in Kansas City and another at the end of July, when two flight attendants returned home to their Astoria, Queens, apartment to discover that their uniforms, keys, and ID tags had been swiped. The FBI found no links to terrorism in either case, according to the Post, but there’s no mention of any suspects being apprehended, so who knows what that means? The story goes on to talk about U.S. flight crews getting funny looks from Middle Eastern men abroad.

A massive explosion that killed 21 in Jalalabad on Friday is being treated as an act of terror, the NYT reports, because it occurred near a major hydroelectric dam. One source said that people are far as 400 yards from the blast were killed, presumably by flying bricks and stones; 85 were injured. Taliban and al-Qaida fighters are thought to be hiding out in Jalalabad, which is 70 miles east of Kabul, according to the Times. American forces on patrol nearby have twice come under fire in recent days. 

The Post reports in an apparent scoop that the attacks on Christian targets in Pakistan this week are part of a coordinated campaign carried out by Islamic militant groups with links to al-Qaida. The NYT fronter on the subject merely posits such a link. The latest bombing occurred at a Presbyterian hospital in Taxila on Friday morning. Three Pakistani nurses were killed and 23 people were wounded. The link to al-Qaida was apparently discovered by President Musharraf’s security aides.

The LAT and the Post front the partial demise of Operation TIPS, the Justice Department’s plan to use cable installers and mailmen, among others, to spy on people in their homes. Under pressure from civil liberties groups and others, Justice will scrap the private property component of TIPS, while still looking to truckers, bus drivers, and dock workers to monitor public places, the WP reports.

The LAT fronts the importation by poor U.S. school districts of experienced teachers from the Philippines. The story follows the journey of one gentle soul from Cebu to South Central, where he assumed everyone played tennis because Serena and Venus are from there. He’d been shown The Substitute 2 by the recruiting agency, but he still found rambunctious American teens something of a shock. The recruits pay $7,500 for the privilege of teaching in the U.S. The LAT reports that American schools need to hire 200,000 teachers per year to ease the current shortage.

When you bring up the above story on the LAT Web site, be prepared to have your reading disrupted by the Saturn SUV that careers recklessly across the text. It’s the latest innovation: Editorial content and advertising need no longer be side-by-side; they can now occupy the same space.

Barry Bonds joined the 600 home run club on Friday night, joining his godfather, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth, the NYT reports. He hit a 421-foot blast to center in the sixth against Pittsburgh, leaving him 155 home runs short of Aaron’s record. In an era of smaller parks and bigger players, Bonds admits to using creatine, but just says no, he says, to steroids. The Times observes that he’s “added plenty of bulky muscle to his upper body over the past several seasons.”