and the Washington Post lead with the heating-up Paula Jones case. The New York Times national edition goes with the maneuvering between Castro and the Catholic Church on the eve of the Pope's visit to Cuba. The Los Angeles Times leads with the likely stance President Clinton will take in separate White House meetings this week with Netanyahu and Arafat--gentle persuasion, not tough talk.
The USAT lead states that leaks indicate that in his deposition last Saturday, Clinton was asked detailed questions about his sexual history with at least four women, including one woman escorted by a state trooper to a rendezvous just days before he became president. The paper says Clinton denied sexually harassing Jones or anyone else.
The WP lead has the same thrust, only a little more detailed. For instance, the Post also has the story about the woman meeting with Clinton just days before his first Inaugural, but adds the detail that she says all the encounters were innocent. And the Post emphasizes that how much of the collateral sexual material gets into the actual trial is up to the trial judge. The paper clearly has a Jones Jones, also reporting that she emerged from Saturday's deposition "clearly elated," dining out, drinking champagne and laughing, and putting a second Paula piece on the front, about how the public is taking the whole thing. By contrast, neither the NYT nor the LAT get to it until the inside.
The NYT lead observes that despite Castro's talk portraying the Pope as an ally in the struggle against American imperialism, there's still plenty of religious repression in Cuba, The Times' Larry Rohter gives an eyewitness account of Havana cops ordering kids from a church group to stop putting up posters advertising the pontiff's visit.
The LAT has, on Martin Luther King day, two front-page civil rights-related stories. (The NYT has a big picture on the front of a black church choir, but puts its King story, about how Memphis handles his memory, inside.) One is that Al Gore will announce today, at King's church in Atlanta, a 17 percent DOJ budget increase that if approved by Congress would mean a stepped-up anti-discrimination emphasis in such areas as fair-housing laws and police misconduct investigations. The other is the bizarre news that last week, the family of one of the young girls murdered in that 1963 Birmingham church bombing discovered that her grave is empty.
Iraq has largely slipped off the front page, but the USAT off-lead describes how both sides are talking tougher now. Sen. John McCain, reports the paper, called on TV over the weekend for "sustained air operations" if the crisis isn't resolved, while the Iraqi VP urged 1 million Iraqis to join a new military force to stage a holy war against the U.N. sanctions. (Suggested slogan: "We do more surrendering before 9 o'clock than most soldiers do all day.")
The NYT observes that last year, there were $1 trillion worth of mergers involving U.S. companies, 50 percent more than 1996, which was itself a record year. The paper likens these mega-mergers to the industrial upheavals at the beginning of the twentieth century, when more than a dozen auto companies became General Motors and dozens of steel companies were forged by J.P. Morgan into U.S. Steel.
Inside, the Times reports that a former American ambassador to Britain has, in a new book excerpted in the Sunday Telegraph, charged that the U.S. ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith, is such an "ardent IRA apologist" that the British began withholding sensitive security information from the Clinton White House.
According to the WP, China's main English language paper announced that Chinese military factories had $7 billion in export sales last year. The "official," less-than-full-disclosure flavor of the story comes with the detail that these sales are supposed to be 80 percent civilian goods such as airplane fuselages, televisions and hairnets, but there isn't one current example cited from that other 20 percent.
The WP business section runs an interview with AOL's Steve Case, which reveals that the company now handles 80 million e-mails a day, and that up until a few years ago, Case wasn't able to get his parents to understand what he did for a living.