More Satellite Dish

More Satellite Dish

More Satellite Dish

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
May 25 1998 7:23 AM

More Satellite Dish

The Los Angeles Times leads with the adverse affect on U.S. high technology export businesses posed by the China/Loral satellite flap. The paper describes the emergence of a trans-party coalition of anti-proliferationists ranging from the liberal Rep. Edward Markey to the religious conservative Gary Bauer (apparently, prolife does not entail proliferation). The Washington Post lead is the Loral CEO's proclamation of innocence. The New York Times goes with the U.S. military's increased dependence on reserve troops in Bosnia.

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The WP lead is a near twin to the Sunday NYT front-page piece on Loral CEO Bernard Schwartz. The broad outlines--that Schwartz has, since first meeting Bill Clinton in 1992, been a big donor to President Clinton and the DNC and that during that same time-frame, Loral has enjoyed solid administration support for its efforts to sell communications technology to China--are the same. And so are many of the details. There is one discrepancy. The NYT suggests the oddity that despite all his donations, Schwartz had been denied that supreme political plum, an overnighter in the Lincoln Bedroom. The WP explains that he's been invited twice but his schedule has prevented him from accepting.

The focus of both pieces is Schwartz's denial that his largess was in any way linked to his firm's increased access to China. Of course, when lobbying is done skillfully, linking is unnecessary--the money speaks for itself. The Times--but not the Post--makes the point, but not until after the "jump," in the seventeenth paragraph.

The NYT lead reports a striking fact: more Army reservists have been called up for active duty in Bosnia than were called up during all of Vietnam, and the episode marks the first time in nearly thirty years that a National Guard combat unit has been shipped overseas. Unfortunately, the piece focuses on the grousing of called-up reservists, instead of on the most important question it raises--whether our part-time soldiers are trained well enough to be depended on this way.

The LAT's "Column One" brings out another overlooked consequence of military downsizing. Seems that budget cuts have forced the Pentagon to stop supplying honor guards to most military funerals, and this role is now often filled by elderly veterans.

An excellently reported piece detailing how the U.S. missed India's nuclear preparations appears on the NYT's page three. (Can't imagine why it's not Page One. Surely it's more pressing than George W. Bush's campaign doings.) According to the Times, the failure was a "team effort," requiring flubs by the State Department, the CIA, the Pentagon and the National Security Council. The piece notes that three days before the Indian explosions, a satellite recorded bulldozers appearing near the test site, but that this didn't set off any alarm bells. But the piece doesn't say why. Surely this is some sort of human breakdown, because the current generation of spy satellites download their take in real time. Furthermore, says the NYT, early on the morning of the test explosions, "one lonely analyst" saw a photo of fences being removed, but it took four or five hours before more experienced officers arrived to review the evidence. The Times doesn't say why they weren't already there. "Today's Papers" can handle that one--because the more experienced officers have rank, and insist that rank has its privileges, like working during the daytime. Isn't that dumb? And isn't it lucky it was only a test?

The LAT op-ed page runs a piece by a University of Chicago law professor that promises "How to Stop Mass Public Shootings." The prof's suggestion? Let citizens (without criminal records) carry concealed weapons. Now, do you think if the teachers (and the other students, for that matter) at that Oregon school had also been armed, that would have made the cafeteria situation safer? After all, the boy pulled a knife on the cops in the police station after he was arrested, and presumably he knew they were armed. The professor adduces some statistics for his side purporting to show that the availability of concealed weapons lessens the occurrence of what he calls "multiple-victim public shootings." Unfortunately, he defines the notion into irrelevance: it doesn't include gang shootings or shootings that are the byproducts of another crime. (which means he couldn't even include the Oregon shootings, because carrying a gun in school is another crime). In other words, he excludes just about every shooting. The tip-off is that he notes (in the seventh paragraph) that there are "21 such shootings annually"--not too statistically significant, given that there are nearly 20,000 gun deaths per year. Thank God for tenure, or this guy might be running a police department somewhere.

Headline writers and editors at the NYT were mostly home barbecuing on Sunday. How else to explain the headline on page six of the national edition: "Sukarno & Company: Out, Yes, but Still Hugely Rich"? Hey guys, it's Suharto.