leads with the collapse of a major Japanese brokerage. The Washington Post leads with Iraq's designation of certain areas as off-limits to U.N. inspectors. The New York Times leads with the White House's push for insurance coverage for Americans aged 55-64. The Los Angeles Times leads with a poll story: Most Southern Californians have tremendous confidence in their state's economy.
The USAT story says Yamaichi Securities Co., Japan's fourth-largest brokerage, has closed down while in debt to the tune of $24 billion. The collapse could have major negative impacts on Asian markets, though the Bank of Japan is stepping in with financial backing to protect Yamaichi's investors.
Various papers took various angles on the story. The WP's above-the-fold article calls President Clinton "upbeat" on Asian economies, and the paper front-pages the Yamaichi failure only in a small "reefer" to a page A11 story. The LAT splits the difference with two side-by-side, front-page stories: One covers the Yamaichi gloom, the other centers on Clinton's "upbeat" assessment of Asian finance. The NYT's front-page analysis departs from the upbeat line, emphasizing Washington's wariness despite its public show of confidence: the White House fears economic weakness could lead to political fragility in the region. Both the NYT and the LAT note that Yamaichi is the largest corporate failure in Japan since World War II. The Wall Street Journal puts Yamaichi on the front page in its "Business and Finance" news box.
The WP lead follows Iraq's latest ploy in the continuing standoff: U.N. inspectors are being denied access to "presidential" sites. Iraq says an inspection of them would be akin to the U.N. searching the White House; the U.N. says the sites are potential hiding places for illicit weaponry. USAT also front-pages the item, and says Saddam's 47 palaces form the bulk of the contested sites. The USAT article centers on Defense Secretary William Cohen's "hard line" reaction--shunning leniency and demanding that the palaces be opened. While the story is prominent and above the fold at the WP and USAT, both the NYT and the LAT leave it off their front pages altogether.
A WSJ editorial takes its cue from the standoff, using it to decry the weakening of the U.S. military. Since crushing Iraq in 1991, our armed forces have been cut by a third and are less well trained. A new Gulf conflict might prove far more costly, and our forces would be too small to fight a simultaneous battle elsewhere in the world.
The NYT lead says the White House will push for insurance coverage directed at the three million uninsured Americans aged 55-64. Too young for Medicare, not poor enough for Medicaid, and largely victims of corporate downsizing, these "near elderly" are old enough to contract expensive, age-related illnesses. Congressional Republicans will firmly resist any new entitlements.
Both USAT (on its front page) and the WP (on page A2) track a new psychiatric disorder: Some bodybuilders develop a kind of reverse anorexia, thinking themselves puny no matter how much they bulk up, and obsessing over gaining and maintaining weight. (Now if we could just get fashion models hooked on weightlifting...)