Prose and Cons

Prose and Cons

Prose and Cons

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
July 16 1998 7:22 AM

Prose and Cons

Befitting a mid-summer news drought, the papers go their separate ways. The New York Times leads with internal dissension at the DOJ about whether or not Bill Clinton's 1996 campaign fund-raising activities warranted an independent counsel--Louis Freeh says yes and Janet Reno says no. The Washington Post leads with the World Bank's hiring of outside auditors to investigate spending from a $25 billion annual development project fund after an internal check seemed to suggest kickbacks and embezzlement. USA Today leads with the upcoming Senate battle over competing Democratic and Republican bills regulating HMOs. President Clinton, the paper reports, is making a rare congressional working visit to plump for his party's bill, which unlike the GOP alternative, would strike down a 25-year-old ban against patients suing their health plans. The Los Angeles Times front-page story with the most national impact is a federal judge's refusal to block California's recent vote to eliminate long-term bilingual education.

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The Reno vs. Free disagreement was discussed during Reno's appearance yesterday at Senate hearings, but as the Times reminds the reader four paragraphs in, it was already aired last winter. But the Times gets excited enough by this virtual news to also offer a lead editorial and a William Safire column backing Freeh. The WP is much calmer--calling the Senate hearing "a familiar scene," and putting it on p. 7.

The World Bank investigation apparently encompasses, says the WP, kickbacks possibly received by a WB official supervising a water project in Algeria, possible misuse of a fund set up by the Japanese government to subsidize WB staff expenses, and Bank-funded efforts in Russia and Indonesia. Three WB officials have been notified that they are under investigation. The Post quotes a senior Bank official as saying, "So the question is 'Are we clean?' and it's not clear.."

The WP's off-lead is that a federal judge will not prevent the head of President Clinton's Secret Service detail from being forced to testify about Monica Lewinsky. Indeed, the paper reports that the judge "harshly chastised" the Secret Service for continuing to fight Kenneth Starr on this point. So Special Agent Larry Cockell might be at the federal courthouse this morning to answer Starr's questions, although the Post says Cockell may be advised not to show up. Apparently Starr is interested in asking Cockell about what he heard of Clinton's discussion with his private attorney Robert S. Bennett in the limo on the way back from the deposition he gave on Jan. 17 for the Paula Jones suit. Of course, the Post notes, this means that Cockell's testimony turns on, not just "protective privilege" but also on attorney-client privilege, and hence it seems that there will be much more court wrangling before the Cockell issue is resolved.

The LAT "Column One" reports on an interesting conflict between medicine and the law. One of the most common causes of death in this country is heart attack and in most attacks there is only a window of ten minutes to save the victim's life. So it would seem obvious that the advent of the portable defibrillator--an electrical shock device that does just the trick in an overwhelming percentage of cases--would be a universally accepted godsend. Given, for instance, that 80 percent of heart attacks occur at home, wouldn't it be great if defibrillators were as common as portable fire extinguishers? Well, as the LAT tells it, the trial lawyers don't think so, because they don't like exempting bystanders who use the devices from possible lawsuits. The cops aren't crazy about them, because they fear this will lead to a distraction from their primary law enforcement role, and besides they don't want to get sued. And there's the fear that improper use of the machines can *cause* heart attacks--a dozen states still prohibit lay people from using the machines.

USAT runs a completely positive account of the productive and powerful partnership that has developed between Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright, especially regarding international women's issues such as the handling of rape charges at the Rwanda War Crimes Tribunal, and clamping down on the international prostitution trade. So what does it say about the First Lady that for this article she not only declined to be interviewed but even declined to answer written questions?

The Wall Street Journal reports that publishing houses receive a steady stream of requests for free books from prisoners, which they frequently honor. The article reports that self-help titles are among the most requested, but doesn't explain the point of mailing out "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" to guys on death row.