What's news today? Depends on which of the majors you pick up. They each have a different top story and they each ignore or bury inside what their competitors lead with. The Los Angeles Times leads with the revelation that the Department of Justice has granted immunity from prosecution to a top research scientist who helped Brown and Williamson create a tobacco strain with an especially high level of nicotine. The move means that despite the proposed $360 billion litigation settlement deal, the feds are still proceeding with a criminal probe into the tobacco industry. The paper reports that grand juries have been convened in Washington, New York and Brooklyn to look into possible wrongdoing by cigarette companies and their trade associations, and that the FBI has mounted a special tobacco task force. What's really weird is you just know some of those agents are taking breaks from sifting through company documents and interviewing industry whistleblowers to go have a smoke.
The New York Times leads with the news that eight months after vowing to overhaul its citizenship program, the INS is "still struggling to put new procedures in place to prevent immigrants with criminal records from becoming citizens." Meanwhile, applications for citizenship are on the rise, so the waiting time for immigrants to hear back has doubled to more than a year. It doesn't help that over a third of the agency's field offices are not linked to its computer database.
The Washington Post leads with the report that in a speech yesterday, President Clinton held open the possibility that he will order U.S. troops to remain in Bosnia in some peacekeeping capacity even after the current NATO mission of which they are a part is terminated next year. Defending U.S. participation in the effort thus far, Clinton said, "It's been much less expensive and much less hazardous to America than a resumption of full-scale war would be."
A little further down on the page, the WP has Bob Woodward saying that before Sen. Fred Thompson opened his hearings with the charge that China had funneled money into U.S. election campaigns, his "statement was cleared.by the FBI, the CIA and the National Security Agency."
The top left-hand piece in the NYT recounts the struggle of tiny (pop. 5,000) Montoursville, Pennsylvania to put the pieces back together after sixteen of its young people and five adults were killed a year ago aboard TWA Flight 800. Initially, the high school that most of the victims attended tried to avoid dwelling on the tragedy via such measures as removing from circulation any textbooks with their signatures in them. But school authorities eventually accommodated the desires of surviving students to be protected less and used a showcase in the school lobby for weeklong displays about each crash victim.
President Clinton made his Bosnia remarks in Copenhagen, and the WP quotes some of the toast he made at a dinner there hosted by Denmark's royal family. Clinton "noted that Attorney General Janet Reno is a Rasmussen on her father's side, and former treasury secretary Lloyd Bentsen is the son of a Dane." Now there's a close cultural connection. Much better to just admit, "I got my management style from Hamlet."