The Washington Post lead reports on persistent misconduct by police officers working for the U.N. in Bosnia. Several officials admit to the paper that there are serious problems with the selection and training of the force's U.S. members. The USA Today lead looks at the Bush White House's reaction to the Jim Jeffords switcheroo. High priorities include mending the administration's relations with Republican moderates, improving its political radar, and adjusting its legislative goals in light of the Senate changeover--which probably means more emphasis on patients' rights, more on environmental conservation, less on oil drilling and nuclear power, and less on government funding for faith-based social service programs. The New York Times lead says that the federal program designed to protect patients from incompetent doctors is "failing" because HMOs and hospitals rarely report such doctors to the government although they are required by law to do so. The top nonlocal story at the Los Angeles Times is that documents obtained by the paper show that each of the five major record companies--Vivendi Universal, Sony, Bertelsmann, AOL Time Warner, and EMI--paid fees to an independent music promoter who provided cash, travel, and event tickets to a Portland, Ore., radio station based on its airplay of the companies' songs. The story quotes a media analyst saying the documents are the smoking gun that could blow the music industry wide open. What's curious is that while the story's headline mentions the documents and the promoter, it does not name those mega music corporations.
According to the WP lead, the U.S.-supplied officers who make up just under 10 percent of the 1,800-member U.N, Bosnia police force are "no worse than any others." This is hardly encouraging in that the story goes on to report that a number of U.S. cops there have been involved in sexual misconduct (mostly involving some of the many prostitutes, often underage, living in Bosnia), graft, and abuse of their authority. The main problem, the story explains, is that unlike the other countries supplying cops, the U.S. has no national police force to draw from--and when asked to help, the FBI and big city police commissioners didn't. Recruitment and training was contracted out by the government to a private, Texas-based corporation, DynCorp, which ended up recruiting many retired cops, some of whom are over 60 and in lousy physical shape. The training DynCorp provides is described in the article by unnamed "senior American officials" as having "serious problems."
The Post reports that the shoddiness continues when it comes to addressing malfeasance: The most serious punishment imposed on an offending U.S. officer thus far has been dismissal and the loss of a bonus. None has been prosecuted. One U.S. police officer who served as a U.N. regional commander explains that "It's easy to keep the French guys in line because they come from the Gendarmerie Nationale and they get an evaluation at the end of their stay. ... For the Americans, on the other hand, there are no professional consequences unless they want to keep working for DynCorp."
The NYT lead is based on new government data showing that in the past decade, 84 percent of HMOs and 60 percent of hospitals never reported to the government a single disciplinary action taken against a doctor--even though a government study recently found that tens of thousands of people die in the U.S. annually because of medical errors.
The NYT and Wall Street Journal report the first Russian reaction (in the person of the Russian defense minister) to the emerging Bush administration offer (first reported in yesterday's NYT) to buy missiles from Russia and offer it military aid in return for Moscow's acceptance of or even participation in a U.S.-backed missile defense system. The Russians still don't want to abandon the ABM treaty, but they haven't gotten a concrete proposal yet. Both papers report that the defense minister observed yesterday that the Russian surface-to-air missile system mentioned in yesterday's Times story is irrelevant to the issue of missile defense since it can only shoot down airplanes.
The LAT fronts word that the U.S. will soon stop the HIV screening of foreign personnel hired at its diplomatic posts around the world. The change is designed to reflect the non-stigmatizing human rights model for AIDS/HIV that the U.S. wants other countries, particularly in Africa, to adopt. It will, explains the paper, cost the U.S. millions in additional medical and insurance expenses and may also lead to personnel shortages produced by medically related absenteeism. The story adds that U.S. diplomats and their families will continue to be tested and if the results are positive, their subsequent assignments will be restricted.
The NYT front turns in some solid reporting on the 4,000-mile illegal immigration trip from Mexico City to Long Island taken recently by a group of men looking for day labor in the United States. The tale comes complete with smugglers, bandits in the dead of night, and hallucinations brought on by extreme hunger. A question, though: What's the policy of the Times regarding assigning its reporters to cover planned illegal activity? Would it also go along with putting a reporter in an embezzling scheme so that she could write about it but not stop it or report it to the cops?