Swiss Miss

Swiss Miss

Swiss Miss

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Dec. 7 1999 7:08 AM

Swiss Miss

The Los Angeles Times leads with Russia's air-dropped leaflet warning to the residents of Chechnya's capital, Grozny: Leave or die. Everybody else except USA Today fronts the ultimatum, and it tops the Wall Street Journal's front-page news box. The New York Times goes with Monday's announcement that the Supreme Court will review its 33-year-old Miranda decision, the national requirement that police inform criminal suspects of their basic constitutional rights, including the right to remain silent, before questioning them. The story is stuffed at USAT, off-leads at the LAT, and is fronted below the fold at the Washington Post, which goes instead with an independent investigating panel's findings that nearly 54,000 dormant Swiss bank accounts, in the aggregate worth as much as $1.3 billion, contain funds linkable to Holocaust victims, many more accounts worth much more money than the banks ever previously acknowledged. The investigators found no clear evidence of a conspiracy by Swiss banks to steal money from victims of the Nazis, but they also cite their "deceitful actions." No one else fronts the story. The USAT lead is that U.S. airlines are canceling domestic flights at a pace that will likely lead to the highest annual percentage of scratches in the last five years. While the story cites maintenance and labor strife as contributing causes, it quotes one airline spokesman as saying that 90 percent of cancellations can be blamed on bad weather and air traffic control problems. The airline with the lowest cancellation rate: at only 1 percent, it's Southwest.

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The LAT says the Russians are giving Grozny's 5,000 soldiers and 40,000 civilians (the other papers give slightly varying numbers) until Saturday to leave Thereafter, those who remain will be declared terrorists, subject to massive shelling and bombing. The WP says there's little doubt that the Russians can follow through on their threat. The papers report that in response, President Clinton has urged Russia not to follow through, saying that the country will "pay a heavy price" otherwise, without really specifying further.

The NYT ably explains what's at issue in the new Supreme Court Miranda case: whether with the original ruling, the Warren Court was establishing a rule of constitutional law or merely expressing its own preference for a method of enforcing the constitutional right against compelled self-incrimination. If the latter, then Congress could overrule the method, which would mean that a little-noticed alternative interpretation of how to protect suspects against self-incrimination buried in a bill passed in 1968 is in fact the law of the land. The NYT runs both an editorial and an op-ed piece urging the Court's validation of Miranda.

The WP and USAT both off-lead the guilty verdict returned yesterday by a federal jury in Miami, against SabreTech Inc. for mishandling hazardous materials linked to the 1996 crash of a ValuJet plane into the Florida Everglades that killed all 110 people on board. This is the first such finding in connection with a U.S. air accident. (Two SabreTech employees were acquitted in the case already.) SabreTech's parent company now faces fines and restitution payouts. State murder and manslaughter charges are next.

The LAT uses its later close time to file a front-pager on the Republican candidates' debate last night in Arizona. This was the first time in the GOP ramp-up that the aspirants could question each other, but, the paper notes, the discussion remained "mostly amicable and genteel." The paper highlights Sen. Orrin Hatch's observation to George W. Bush that with only five years as a governor, he needs more experience before becoming president--such as first being the vice president for eight years in a Hatch administration.

The business sections in both Times report that the newly created Exxon Mobil Corp. has revoked a prior Mobil policy and will no longer provide health-care coverage to the partners of new gay hires or to the new partners of current gay employees. Several gay rights organizations are responding with outrage.

USAT's front-page "cover story" makes the observation that while companies continue to work on the Y2K problem, they face considerable non-Y2K computer glitches. The paper reports these commonplace troubles cost $100 billion annually in lost productivity.

Dept. of Corrections: Today's Papers erred in saying yesterday that a Monday LAT story had no information about the legal immunity enjoyed by members of Congress. It did in fact say they are shielded from libel or slander lawsuits based on remarks made in congressional debate and in official reports.

The WP reports that at the opening of Janet Reno's first media briefing in weeks, she told the assembled reporters that they keep her on her toes and that "the First Amendment is reflected best around this table." Then, says the Post, Reno proceeded to give a "no comment" answer 17 times. You need a spreadsheet to keep track of all the grotesqueries in another Post item. "Reliable Source" quotes Vernon Jordan's Gridiron Club gala comment about Hillary Clinton's Senate prospects: "I'm praying, of course, that Hillary will win. If she doesn't--Lord, I'll have to call Revlon again."