Nobody agrees on the lead today. The New York Times leads with Slobodan Milosevic's promise Tuesday to resume talks with Kosovo's Albanians. The Los Angeles Times leads with the Clinton administration's plan to send the Treasury Dept.'s international trade point man to Tokyo to prod the Japanese to stabilize the yen. The Washington Post goes with North Korea's belligerent admission for the first time Tuesday that it has and will continue to develop and test ballistic missiles as well as sell them to the likes of Iran, Iraq and Syria. This disclosure, bizarrely enough, is apparently designed to get the U.S. to lift its near-total economic embargo on North Korea. USA Today leads with the various natural calamities plaguing the country right now: wildfires in Florida, thunderstorms in Maryland, and floods in New England.
The NYT reports that after meeting in Moscow with Boris Yeltsin, Milosevic, in an attempt to forestall NATO military action against his forces, pledged to provide relief groups and international monitors with access to Albanians in Kosovo province and to make arrangements for Albanian refugees to return there. However he did not, observes the paper, agree to withdraw his Serbian security forces from the area. Russian officials who, notes the Times, are also opposed to any NATO use of force in the situation, portrayed Milosevic's remarks as an important breakthrough. And while the NYT notes that it's not at all clear that Milosevic's pledges are genuine, it's beyond curious that nowhere does the story mention that he is believed by many to have authorized crimes against humanity in the Bosnian war and is not being hauled before an international tribunal to answer for them primarily because he is a head of state. This context is also missing from the LAT front-page story on the Kosovo developments. Ditto for the WP, which carries the story inside, along with one about the U.S. military's doubts about being able to operate effectively in and around Kosovo.
The LAT says that what's prompting the U.S. push to Japan is the fear that if something isn't done soon, the Asian crisis could worsen. In particular, explains the paper, there's the fear that if the yen continues to drop, China will abandon its pledge not to devalue its currency, which could set off further devaluations across Asia, and this would only further hurt the region's banks and further suppress its imports. Which could hurt U.S. exports. Already, notes the story, the yen's problems have contributed to a 50 percent drop in Chrysler's Japan sales. For all this about what is going wrong and could go wronger, the LAT is awfully light on what the U.S. wants the Japanese government to actually do, not going much beyond its remarks in the seventh paragraph about the desire for Japan to "stimulate and deregulate" its economy and bail out its insolvent banks. There is the comment that Prime Minister Hashimoto's responses in this direction have only been "modest," but there is no detail on what they were or why they are considered insufficient.
The USAT front section "cover story" reveals that one in four stalking victims is a man, 90 percent of them stalked by other men. The story keys on perhaps the most famous victim of male-on-male stalking, Steven Spielberg, but also notes the cases of a congressman and a senator (both from Nevada) who were preyed on recently by the same man. According to the story, men stalk men for the same reasons they stalk women: mental disorders, narcissism, and an anti-social streak.
The NYT front reports that the Massachusetts Supreme Court has upheld the reduced sentence of 279 days for au pair Louise Woodward. The ruling means that Woodward, convicted last fall of killing a baby boy in her care, is free to return to her home in England. The parents of the dead child immediately filed a civil suit against Woodward (for wrongful death? The Times doesn't say) seeking damages and asking that she be prevented from making interview or book deals allowing her to profit from the death. The story also makes front-page "reefers" at the LAT and USAT.
The WP runs an AP item about a JAMA study coming out today noting that the number of disciplinary actions taken against physicians for sex-related offenses increased from 42 in 1989 to 147 in 1996. About 40 percent of the doctors disciplined during this time span were allowed to return to practice. Doctors disciplined for sex-related offenses were more likely to be in the fields of psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, and family and general practice.
The Wall Street Journal reports that in congressional testimony, Alan Greenspan questioned how antitrust laws are being applied in the current merger environment and indirectly criticized the government's case against Microsoft. Greenspan suggested that the government should exercise more "humility" in wielding antitrust action because, as in the case of U.S. Steel, IBM, and GM, monopolies tend to fade over time.
In his survey of the recently released House and Senate financial disclosure forms, the WP's Al Kamen notices that although Sen. Robert C. Smith is a big advocate of tort reform, his wife nevertheless collected a $175,000 jury verdict against the Sheraton Hotel for a slip and fall.