Viagra Falls

Viagra Falls

Viagra Falls

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Oct. 15 1998 8:01 AM

Viagra Falls

The New York Times and Los Angeles Times lead with the latest developments in the federal budget wrangle. The NYT headline says a final agreement is near, while the LAT's says the process is stalled over party differences. (Over their front-page budget stories, both the Washington Post and USA Today sport end-in-sight headlines.) But hey, it's Washington--they're both right. The WP leads with the FAA's recommendation yesterday that, because of newly discovered fire hazards, the insulation be replaced on almost all of the world's airliners. Running FAA/insulation as its off-lead, USAT goes instead with a story tipped yesterday on the LAT front--the feds charging fugitive Eric Robert Rudolph, already wanted for an Alabama abortion clinic bombing, with the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing. The paper notes that federal authorities are concerned that Rudolph is being helped to evade arrest, possibly by anti-abortion sympathizers.

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Taken together the two Times summarize the to-the-moment budget state of play: IN: the $1.1 billion education initiative, originally proposed by President Clinton as exclusively for hiring new teachers, but as per GOP desires, local school districts will now retain the flexibility to use the new money not just for hiring, but also for recruitment, testing, and training of teachers; a $6 billion disaster assistance measure for farmers; grants to help the needy pay heating bills; $950 million towards a national anti-missile defense system; and $18 billion for the IMF. OUT: Billions for fixing up dilapidated school buildings, and national student testing. STILL UP IN THE AIR: How to conduct the 2000 Census, what to do about pornography on the Internet, whether or not to require federal health insurance to cover the cost of contraceptives, and whether or not to keep international family planning organizations from using U.S. funds to influence abortion laws; and whether or not to spend $10 million to promote overseas tobacco sales.

The LAT usefully reminds the reader of a list of items that long ago fell off the budget bandwagon: a tax cut, new tobacco regulations, a bill of rights for managed care patients, and campaign finance reform. The NYT stresses the political angles available now for each party: the coalescing budget will allow Republicans to argue that they care about more than Monica, while allowing the Democrats to claim that President Clinton is still politically relevant.

The WP and USAT stories about the FAA move point out that the combustibility of insulation is thought to be a cause of the Swissair crash off Nova Scotia that killed 229 people. The stories note the switch to safer insulation can be done during regular maintenance, and that it will cost billions, and that the FAA will eventually make it mandatory.

USAT's front section "cover story" reports that since adopting the one-outfit-fits-all approach through the eighth grade, the Long Beach, California public schools have seen a 91 percent drop in assaults, thefts, vandalism and weapon and drug violations.

Both the WP and NYT run stories inside reporting on the latest statistics compiled by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which indicate that the nation's teen pregnancy rate has dropped considerably in the 1990s. The Post headline says it's the lowest in 23 years. The NYT header says 20 years. Both papers report that the stats indicate a shift among teenage women away from the pill and towards injectable contraception like Norplant and Depo-Provera, especially among blacks. Both papers say these medications are attractive to those who only have sporadic sex and have trouble with consistent contraceptive planning. This is a little code-wordy. Do the papers mean that the girls in question forget to take their pills? Then they should say so. The NYT further mystifies by citing as an added explanation that Depo-Provera is especially appealing to some teenagers "because it is impossible to detect." How do you detect an ingested birth control pill?

Many readers responded to yesterday's comment here that a USAT story about the upcoming congressional elections buried mention of its polling sample of "but 1,004" people. It has been pointed out to Today's Papers that this is actually a somewhat larger sample than occurs in many newspaper polls, and is plenty large to be accurate to within a few percentage points' margin of error. Further, in a very interesting letter, USAT's director of polling points out that although his paper usually delays mentioning the sample size until the last paragraph or so of a story, since USAT doesn't use jumps off the front page, these mentions usually occur much earlier in stories than do similar references in papers like the NYT that do jump. These are all good points. Today's Papers would suggest two things: 1) putting the sample and margin of error information in the subheadline instead; 2) Doing a story some time explaining how nationwide elections can be reliably predicted by talking to fewer people than you see at the mall.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Viagra sales have er, come down. Reasons cited: the cooldown of media hype, fear of side effects and managed-care's crackdown on reimbursement. A men's health official is quoted saying that one factor appears to be the Disney effect: men aren't interested in an hour-wait for a two-minute ride.