The Washington Post leads with the extra-innings Kosovo negotiations in France, stressing Madeleine Albright's statement that NATO will not bomb Serbia if the continuation of the stalemate is due to objections from both Albanians and Serbs. The other majors also front the story. The Los Angeles Times leads with the heartening nuclear weapons agreement reached over the weekend by India and Pakistan, a story fronted by the New York Times, but carried inside at USA Today and the WP. The NYT goes with the call by governors of both parties from their winter national meeting for President Clinton and Congress to quit the partisan bickering of the impeachment and get back to issues of concern to voters such as education. USAT leads with renewed efforts by state regulators to find ways to curtail the deceptive sales practices of sweepstakes companies. The Nation's Newspaper also runs a news section "cover story" on the problem that there's no accepted name for the next decade. (How about the Noughties? Or the Uh-Ohs?)
According to the papers, the Kosovo talks have been extended until mid-Tuesday. The consensus is that the big sticking point that the Serbs reject and the Albanians insist on is the proposed presence on the ground of a NATO peacekeeping force of 30,000. The WP says that one modification being explored to close the deal is a force with a significant Russian component, which would allow Yugoslavia's president Slobodan Milosevic to save face because Russia has been a staunch supporter of his. And perhaps not explicitly calling it a "NATO" force. (The Wall Street Journal has this linguistic gambit as well.) The LAT says the Russians have stepped up their rhetoric against airstrikes. The NYT says that the Albanians have been more "prickly" than anticipated, hesitating to sign an agreement that doesn't explicitly promise an eventual referendum on self-governance for the region, a stance the LAT also reports. The LAT says that Albright is offering in response the promise that the international community will consider the voice of the Albanians in the region regarding Kosovo's final status. But there is no explanation of what this could possibly mean.
According to the LAT, the India/Pakistan talks were a lot different--face to face, cordial and very successful. The two nations' prime ministers agreed to warn each other of missile tests, swap information on nuclear strategy, and to quit testing nukes altogether. The two leaders made no progress on the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir, but they agreed to try again later. The LAT points out that the agreements regarding nuclear weapons were significant because the proximity of the two countries equals shorter missile flight times, which make unrecallable missile mistakes more likely.
The WSJ reports that a planned sale of a $450 million communications satellite to a Chinese business consortium may be kaboshed by the government (via not granting the necessary export licenses) because of concerns in the Pentagon and elsewhere that the Chinese military is involved in the deal. The government is now, says the Journal, conducting "end-user checks." The paper notes that the deal would come at a time when Republicans in Congress are on the verge of releasing a report concluding China's military has profited over the years from stealing and buying U.S. equipment.
The WP front reports a growing reaction in a number of legislatures to the ever-increasing number of people who are prevented from voting because of their criminal records: give felons back the right to vote anyway. The idea is, says the paper, picking up support from mainstream civil rights organizations and politicians. In Florida, for example, the legislature has a bill under consideration that would restore convicts' right to vote one year after they complete their sentence. The Post says civil rights groups have pushed this in Florida because one-third of the nation's disenfranchised felons live there and about 31 percent of the state's black men are ineligible to vote. And adds the paper, many moderates are reluctant to reject the idea for fear of appearing racist. "With the huge number of people disenfranchised, you're really not open to all of the citizenry in making decisions," is one Alabama Democratic legislator's defense of the idea.
The WP front reports that a former school principal who was fired for sexually harassing teachers is getting a disability retirement payment of about $38,000 per year--three times the norm (for a principal? The Post doesn't say)--for a psychosexual disorder that makes him unable to supervise women without trying to get them to have sex with him.
Thanks Dad According to the LAT front, rising Republican star J.C. Watts was recently on the receiving end of this assessment from his father: "A black man voting for the Republicans makes about as much sense as a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders."