Today's leads splay in all directions. USA Today goes with the rampage of Hurricane Georges through the Caribbean. Nearly 200 people are dead, and the powerful storm is now headed for the Florida Keys. A four-column Washington Post lead reports that lawyers for President Clinton and Paula Jones are negotiating for a financial settlement of Jones' sexual harassment suit which is now on appeal. The New York Times leads with favorable new polls for the Clinton camp: A NYT/CBS poll shows that the President's approval ratings have risen since the release of his videotaped grand jury testimony. A backlash may be in the works against Republicans who favored releasing the tape. (A different poll analyzed on USAT's front reaches similar conclusions: Just 29% of voters now would opt for Clinton's removal, down from 35% last Sunday.)
The Los Angeles Times leads with the bill passed Thursday by the House that would grant temporary visas to up to 142,500 additional foreign workers with high-tech skills. This bill, which would be effective during the next three years, has particular relevance for Silicon Valley and technology firms based in the west. The Clinton administration, citing the need to protect domestic labor, worked several compromises into the bill, including a provision which diverts a portion of the visa revenues to funds to aid U.S. workers. The measure is expected to be passed by the Senate and signed into law.
The WP's lead cites "sources familiar with the situation" on the Paula Jones lawsuit as saying that Clinton and Jones lawyers have discussed a settlement "in the range that the two sides contemplated during past negotiations"--i.e. between $700,000 and $900,000. The NYT, which also fronts the story, gets much more specific. Citing the lawyers themselves as sources, the Times reports that Jones' lawyers initiated the discussion last week and proposed a $1 million settlement. Robert Bennett, Clinton's private lawyer, counter-offered $500,000, and negotiations are proceeding apace. The impetus to settle comes because Paula Jones' appeal will be heard in mid-October; Jones views the Lewinsky revelations as a possible asset to her suit.
In other Lewinsky developments, the House Judiciary Committee set a tentative schedule for impeachment hearings. The Committee will vote on October 5 or 6 about whether to launch an impeachment inquiry; if yes, then the House will vote on the measure very shortly thereafter. Amidst the developments, the NYT detects mayhem among the House Republicans. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and House Judiciary Committee chair Henry Hyde are tripping over one another's leadership initiatives--"a classic case of too many chiefs," commented another Republican Representative.
The NYT and LAT both report in front-page stories that India's Prime Minister announced Thursday at the U.N. that India will sign an international treaty banning nuclear testing within one year. India's announcement follows a similar pledge Wednesday by Pakistan.
Everybody but the LAT fronts the new padding for American pocketbooks. According to a Census Bureau report released Thursday, income for the average household has risen since 1996 (outstripping inflation by a rate of nearly 2:1), and the poverty rate has declined. Significantly, the number of black and Hispanic households below the poverty line decreased. Nonetheless, the papers note, this does not mitigate the long-term trend toward inequality: the top 20% of households still control 50% of the wealth.
Speaking of money, the WP pays tribute inside to the new $20 bills. The Treasury Department launched the first of $40 billion worth of redesigned $20 greenbacks yesterday. The objective? To foil counterfeiters. (The old $20s trailed only the $1 bills as a counterfeit cinch.) But the new $20s might not bring Coke cans and subway tokens tumbling out of vending machines just yet: The machines must be reconfigured to accept the new bills.
The Wall Street Journal tries to decipher the baffling marketing phenomenon of Beanie Babies. These "little stuffed critters," worth $5.95, have been flagged among disciples as rare and valuable collector's items. As a result, some manic Beanie speculators value their collections at upward of $100,000. But there is growing fear that the Beanie phenomenon may be on the verge of collapse either as new rival toys flood the market or, more likely, when collectors click their heels three times and realize that their closets are cluttered with stuffed toys.