Popepourri

Popepourri

Popepourri

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
March 24 2000 4:13 AM

Popepourri

The New York Times leads with the Justice Department's initiation of a criminal investigation into whether White House officials illegally suppressed large numbers of e-mail messages that had been subpoenaed in various investigations of the Clinton administration. The story is the off-lead at the Washington Post, which goes instead with the pope's remarks at Israel's main Holocaust memorial, in which he expressed sadness about the persecution of Jews and other displays of anti-Semitism. The Los Angeles Times also leads with the pope's remarks and also fronts the White House e-mail investigation. USA Today fronts the pope and tops the page with a talker about air passengers trying to cope with the possibility that US Airways might suspend operations over the weekend in a labor dispute with its flight attendants but saves its heavy type for the release of a World Health Organization report finding that drug-resistant tuberculosis is gaining a foothold worldwide, even in wealthy countries. The story also reports that the Bill Gates family foundation will announce $133 million in grants today focusing on combating the global spread of such killer diseases.

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The NYT lead says that court papers filed in connection with the opening of the DOJ investigation refer also to employees of Northrop Grumman, the company hired to maintain the White House e-mail system, alleging that they had been pressured to remain silent about missing e-mail sought by investigators. The story says White House officials deny any effort to avoid compliance with subpoenas, and claim that the problem was an inadvertent computer glitch in the computer storage system. One GN employee, says the paper, has testified that she was told by a colleague that the missing messages were full of evidence dealing with Monica Lewinsky as well as Al Gore's fund-raising. But apparently this was denied by the colleague.

The WP says that there is a separate and more severe gap problem with messages coming into Gore's computer system. The Times quotes George W. Bush reacting to the news, saying he looks forward to finding out what happened to the missing e-mail and what it says. The LAT says the development could give Bush "new ammunition" in his effort to depict Gore as part of a scandal-ridden and unethical administration. The Wall Street Journal editorial on the matter reminds the reader of other AWOL Clintonia over the years: the Rose Law Firm billing records and the suddenly uncovered coffee fund-raiser videos.

At one point, the NYT says the problem of the missing e-mails has been known for weeks, but it doesn't mention how. It's nothing short of intellectual dishonesty that none of the majors on the story today mentions the Washington Times, which has been covering it since at least the middle of February.

All the papers covering the pope's remarks communicate a moving scene. (Which, they all report, deteriorated later in the day into partisan tension between Palestinians and Jews.) And they each note that the pontiff stopped short of making an explicit apology for the Vatican's failure to speak out against the Holocaust while it was underway. The WP, in addressing this point, gives in to an inexplicable moral relativism: "John Paul stopped short of an outright apology on behalf of the Catholic Church for what some Jews consider the Vatican's silence, inaction and complicity in the Holocaust." What some Jews consider?

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Everybody fronts word, unveiled in a special issue of Science, that researchers have mapped the entire genome of the fruit fly. And the map turns out to be surprisingly illuminating about human genetics.

The WP is alone in fronting the resolution of the House chaplain flap: Speaker Dennis Hastert dropped his original choice of a Presbyterian and went with the Catholic candidate instead--a denominational first.

The WP reports that a sixth-grader who said he wanted to join his mother in jail held his classmates and teacher at the point of a handgun (his father's) until another teacher talked him into surrendering the weapon.

The WSJ and WP report that law enforcement preparations are underway to prevent a recurrence of a Seattle-style outbreak when the WTO meets in Washington, D.C., in early April.

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The NYT reports that in India, aides talked President Clinton out of riding an elephant, on the grounds that "Clinton's large physique and presidential dignity were not concepts that went well together on the back of an elephant." The aides, the paper reports, then went off on an elephant ride.

Tell me about it, said Monica Lewinsky. At another point during the day of sightseeing, the Times reports, some monkeys were displaying "a fascination with Clinton that he said he wasn't sure how to cope with." But then, the paper says, Clinton realized the animals were transfixed by the lei hanging around his neck. So Clinton threw it at one of the monkeys, saying later, "Once I was deflowered, they weren't interested in me."

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For more political news--Gore criticizes three Supreme Court justices by name, and Republicans attack "Air Hillary"--go to Slate's Politics page.