Fear and Trimbling

Fear and Trimbling

Fear and Trimbling

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Feb. 12 2000 6:15 AM

Fear and Trimbling

The New York Times and the Washington Post lead with Britain's decision to suspend Northern Ireland's 10-week-old power-sharing government. Just before the deadline for disarmament expired, the Irish Republican Army submitted a proposal that sparked some optimism but failed to keep the government afloat. The Los Angeles Times off-leads Northern Ireland and leads with the Los Angeles Police Commission inspector general's finding that police officers broke LAPD rules when they shot and killed a homeless woman in May 1999. The story follows reports of widespread corruption investigations within the LAPD.

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Peter Mandelson, Britain's Northern Island secretary, suspended the government of Catholics and Protestants to pre-empt Unionist leader David Trimble's threatened resignation as its leader. The latter move might have scuttled the peace process overall, since other Unionist officials are even more skeptical; instead, the government will be held in abeyance, at best. The IRA equates decommissioning (disarmament) with surrender, and thus will hand over weaponry only on its own terms. The paramilitary group proposes disarmament in tandem with British military withdrawal from parts of Northern Ireland. The LAT reports fears that the new government will fizzle like its predecessor 25 years ago.

John McCain announced that he will cease negative advertising for the duration of this campaign, saying that if he reneges "I will receive the criticism and scorn that I deserve." However, McCain advisers told the Post that failing to respond to Bush's attacks may injure the senator's chances in South Carolina next week. George W. Bush dismissed his opponent's pledge as "an old Washington trick." State Democrats' breathless glee over Republican cannibalism overshadows McCain's goodwill in the NYT story. The state Democratic Party chairman's primary-season enthusiasm descends into "hysterical giggling."

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura bolted from the "hopelessly dysfunctional" Reform Party yesterday, the papers report. He said he wants no involvement in a party headlined by Pat Buchanan and supported by former Klan leader David Duke.

Both Times summarize e-mail interviews with "Mixter," an anonymous 20-year-old German who wrote the software that hackers are believed to have abused in this week's attacks on high-profile Web sites. The NYT sweeps into hacker culture, identifying differences between "white hats" and "black hats." The former work more or less as consultants for companies, launching attacks that test systems' security. The latter write software that exposes systems' security flaws, unsolicited, and then post the material on the Web for security programmers to learn from; it was in this spirit that Mixter wrote his program. The LAT story reveals that Mixter recently won $10,000 for designing a network defense against attacks like this week's strikes at Yahoo!, CNN, ZDnet, E*Trade, and others. Computers at UCLA, UC-Santa Barbara, and Stanford were commandeered during the recent attacks, the papers report separately.

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By all accounts, Chechnya's capital is uninhabitable. Both the Post and NYT run front-page interviews with Grozny residents forced to live like troglodytes for the foreseeable future. The Post frames its dispatch about the Chechen rebels' retreat from Grozny with the story of a cook who had to lead her two children through a minefield. The Times' Michael Gordon wanders the city agape, unsuccessfully looking for a structure that shelling hadn't turned into Swiss cheese.

A small, homemade bomb exploded in New York's financial district at 4:41 a.m. Friday, knocking out the first-floor windows of two buildings and causing a postal worker to complain of a distinct ringing in his ears. "We're inconvenienced," a 25-year-old financial analyst, whose building was closed, told the Times.

The LAPD inspector general's report, which stands at odds with the city police chief's evaluation of the killing, joins a growing list of violations, scandals, and misdeeds that has plagued the department. A WP front-pager looks at the corruption investigation, which has centered on the Rampart Division and led to 32 overturned criminal convictions and the firing, resignation, or suspension of 20 officers, with dozens more pending.

Since agreeing to buy Time Warner, with its huge cable network, America Online has halted its lobbying for open access cable systems, the Post reports. Before the proposed merger, AOL lobbied several state legislatures to pass laws keeping cable lines open to multiple Internet service providers. Recently, the company has dropped its quest and asserted that the market should sort out cable access. The Post article quotes a consumer advocate: "The consequences of trying to do a 180 on this will be huge and will undermine their credibility."

The primary season presses on. Have you been feeling "limited to a small selection of candidates, most of whom are close relatives"? So too have black lion tamarin monkeys, the last 1,200 of which make their home in the forests of eastern Brazil. The NYT reports in its Saturday "Arts & Ideas" section that these critters split into nine areas, after human invasions fractured their larger community. Some of these areas are so thinly populated that lovelorn black lion tamarin monkeys must strut their stuff before relatives. Since genetic homogeneity is the sure road to extinction, scientists at Columbia University have been using genetic analysis to match these primates up with more suitable mates from across the way. Computer dating at its finest.