Breakups

Breakups

Breakups

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
May 11 2000 7:40 AM

Breakups

The Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times lead with, and the Wall Street Journal tops its front-page business news index with, Microsoft's formal pitch to the trial judge regarding the government's breakup proposal: Don't do it, just regulate the company's conduct that the court found in violation of antitrust law by, for instance, requiring Microsoft to allow computer makers to offer a version of Windows that defaults to a non-Microsoft browser, to share Windows technical information with non-Microsoft software developers, and to agree not to withhold licensing from a computer manufacturer just because it also licenses non-Microsoft software. USA Today stuffs the Microsoft-pedaling and leads instead with the House's overwhelming passage yesterday of a five-year extension on the protection from taxation currently enjoyed by Internet access providers. The House had previously defeated the two-year ban supported by the White House and also defeated a permanent ban. The paper's big print reads "NET TAX BAN SURVIVES," which although literally true is misleading in that it falsely suggests that sales taxes never apply to goods e-purchased (they do if the buyer lives in the same state as the e-purveyor) and doesn't mention the Senate, which also has to weigh in before the ban extension becomes law.

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The WP and LAT leads focus on the technical specifics of the Microsoft counterproposal, while the WSJ and NYT leads give higher and more play to the government's macroeconomic argument: Breaking up the company could seriously harm the U.S. economy.

The NYT and LAT front yesterday's sudden Rudy Giuliani developments: First he announced that he was seeking a separation from his wife, Donna Hanover, in the process referring to another woman as a very good friend he would turn to more now, and then Hanover (caught unaware, says the NYT) responded with charges that the couple's marital problems stemmed from Giuliani's previous dalliance with another woman, at the time a member of his staff. The NYT says the news spurred fears among Republicans that Giuliani would not run for the Senate against Hillary Clinton, and quoted him as saying, "I really don't care about politics right now." The LAT describes Hanover's charge as a "political dagger through Giuliani's heart" and headlines the story "GIULIANI SENATE RUN IN DOUBT AS DIVORCE LOOMS."

The WP and NYT front word that Army investigators have substantiated that charge of sexual harassment raised earlier this year by an Army three-star against another Army general. They learned that in a Pentagon office, he touched her in a sexual manner and tried to kiss her. Apparently key, say the papers, were the statements of her friends and colleagues based on statements she made to them shortly after the incident in 1996. The Post says the man will probably receive a formal reprimand and be forced to retire.

The WP fronts the latest on the love bug. It seems that the leading suspect, now missing and being actively sought by the cops, had proposed a novel solution to the digital divide for a thesis for the Manila computer college he attended: a computer program that would steal Internet account information from other folks' computers. The plan was for the student to create the stealing program for his senior thesis. The proposal was rejected by faculty members. "This is illegal!" was the comment, says the Post and NYT, scribbled by the department chairman. (Today's Paper used to hate getting that grade.) The virus proposed was remarkably similar to the "ILOVEYOU" bug.

The NYT reports inside that President Clinton issued an executive order to make AIDS drugs available more cheaply in sub-Saharan Africa, declaring that the U.S. government will not interfere with countries that may violate American patent law in order to provide the drugs at lower prices. Two gaps in the story: 1) Earlier in the presidential campaign Al Gore was criticized because it was thought he was obstructing the AIDS fight by insisting on the cost-increasing patent rights of the American pharmaceutical companies that make the best AIDS drugs. What's his position now? Was he consulted in the formulation of this new tack? 2) The story notes that the executive order is nearly identical to a provision dropped (at the behest of the drug industry, says the Times) from an African trade bill currently under congressional consideration, but it doesn't explain what sorts of things can be accomplished by executive order and which can't.

The USAT front reports that in an "unusual move," the Food and Drug Administration has decided to allow two manufacturers' saline breast implants to remain on the market "despite relatively high complication and failure rates." According to the story, some one in five users of the one brand of implant and some one in seven of the other end up having to have follow-up surgery because of problems such as pain due to scar tissue. The story quotes an FDA spokeswoman on the reason for the move: "[The committee] felt strongly that there were a lot of women who wanted them to remain available." (More than a few big boobs in this story.)