Sinister Prime Minister

Sinister Prime Minister

Sinister Prime Minister

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Aug. 31 1998 5:09 AM

Sinister Prime Minister

The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today all lead with the Russian parliament's refusal to confirm President Yeltsin's nominee for prime minister. The Wall Street Journal leads with a warning that individual investors may soon abandon the American stock market.

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Russia's Communist Party said it would not confirm acting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Yeltsin's choice for the job. Yeltsin earlier appeared to have secured a deal to grant the parliament greater powers in exchange for Chernomyrdin's confirmation. This deal was soon called off by the Communists, the most powerful party in parliament, who 1) feared that Yeltsin would not uphold his side of the bargain, and 2) called Chernomyrdin "an accomplice with Yeltsin in the destruction of the past years." The raucous parliamentary debate was carried on live Russian television but was knocked off the air, the NYT alone notes, by the broadcast of a Sylvester Stallone film. A second front-page NYT piece adds that about 25 percent of Russians "would still support a Communist system of government." A front-page WP article argues that the upcoming American-Russian summit will feature two leaders with little power and little to offer each other. For each, just being seen with the other could be a political liability.

The WSJ lead claims that individual investors, the driving force of the stock market, are starting to pull out. But the WSJ's evidence seems largely anecdotal, and the paper refers to "an important minority of individuals" who are jumping ship. Unlike last October's 554-point drop, the piece argues, investors do not view the recent decline as a "buying opportunity." A front-page NYT piece says the current market woes could "forecast" a recession: If Americans begin to doubt the worth of their investments, consumer spending might fall, hurting the economy. Possible remedy: lower interest rates. The market watch is the off-lead at USAT, which notes that consumer spending "accounts for two-thirds of the U.S. economy."

Everyone but the WP gives front-page play to the continuing Northwest Airlines pilot strike. Northwest has cancelled all flights through Tuesday. USAT warns that high-traffic Labor Day weekend is imminent, while the LAT reefers a story about other airlines' rush to steal Northwest's abandoned customers. A funny NYT front-pager examines the strike's effect on Grand Forks, North Dakota, a remote town utterly dependent on Northwest, which even delivers the mail. Minneapolis, another city served primarily by Northwest, will soon run out of flowers and fresh fish if the strike does not end, claims a WSJ piece.

The NYT, LAT, and WP all go front-page with the home run chase. Chicago Cub Sammy Sosa hit his 54th and St. Louis Cardinal Mark McGwire hit his 55th in the race to break the 1961 record of 61 home runs in a season.

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A page A03 WP story explains why more animals aren't cannibals. Cannibalism simultaneously achieves two ends (finding food and killing off a rival), so why isn't it more popular? Animals that feast on their own kind are more likely to eat harmful microbes than if they dined on a different species, and thus they are more prone to disease. The article nicely characterizes serial killer (and cannibal) Jeffrey Dahmer as having had "an unusually consuming interest in his victims."