Local stories lead at the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, but the papers' top international stories are about Russia. The New York Times also leads with Russia--more analysis of President Clinton's upcoming trip to Moscow. Expectations for the Clinton-Yeltsin summit are not high, given the weakened status of both presidents. In paragraph two, the NYT draws a portentous parallel between the teetering Clinton and Richard Nixon, who met with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1974 in Moscow. Five weeks after returning to Washington, Nixon resigned.
The LAT top international story reports that Russian acting prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's voiced assurances on Saturday that Russia will pursue market reforms and democracy. The NYT and WP cover Chernomyrdin's remarks inside; the WP adds that his statement, "there will be no return to the past," may have been intended to mollify the International Monetary Fund, which is scheduled to give Russia a $4.3 billion loan installment in September. However, a WP front-page article headlined "Russia in Reverse" effectively belies Chernomyrdin's assertions, saying, "Perhaps more than at any time [since] the Soviet collapse, the concepts of liberal market reform and democracy are in retreat."
Also in the front-page Russia roundup: a LAT article profiles a decidedly "undemocratic" figure in Russian politics, billionaire Boris Berezovsky, who is believed to have been instrumental in Chernomyrdin's reappointment. The NYT runs a colorful piece on Russians' survival strategies during the currency crisis.
The papers continue coverage of the pilots' strike at Northwest Airlines, which began at midnight Friday night. All Northwest flights are grounded at least until midweek. President Clinton has decided not to intervene for the moment.
A WP front-page article says that criticism of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is mounting. The reason: her tough talk has produced few results, especially in a time of multiple international crises. However, the article also quotes analysts who say that President Clinton, scandal-dogged and an inchworm on foreign affairs, may muffle Albright's activism.
The WP "Outlook" lands a double-strike against the U.S. cruise missile attacks. One article decries "vigilante justice," and says that the United States erred by declaring itself in effect "free to make its own rules" against an amorphous terrorist network. Another piece questions the wisdom of the U.S. military strategy. It argues that while cruise missile strikes may be cheap in terms of American lives (and thus are politically safe), the war against terrorism requires a "long-term and unwavering commitment." This means a concentrated campaign using ground troops and special forces as well as cruise missiles. The NYT "Week In Review," meanwhile, shudders at the worldwide malaise of weak leadership.
Good news for the art world: An inside NYT article cheers the country-music-loving leader of National Endowment for the Arts, who has managed to twang on Congressional artstrings though he has only been in the job two months. In his optimistic view, "the federal role in the arts should be equal to our role in the Department of Defense."
A lengthy but transfixing WP "Style" article peers into the chambers of the Church of Satan, a San Francisco-based group whose roster of twisted rituals includes "satanic baptisms" and the use of nude women as altars. The church's charismatic and controversial founder recently died (presumably, went to hell), which may catalyze the institution's demise. But devoted followers (who can occasionally be found jamming at the Lucifer's Hammer death-rock scene) vow to carry the satanic torch high.
A NYT front-page piece reports that surfing the Internet causes increased depression. A two-year study found that one Internet hour per week made participants one percent more depressed. In addition, their circle of friends shrank by an average of 2.7 people. Yikes! Working 35+ hours a week, TP is on course to wind up at least 35 percent more depressed and lose over 94.5 friends.