De La Ruin

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Dec. 21 2001 8:17 AM

De La Ruin

The Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal's worldwide news box all lead with the resignation of Argentinean president Fernando de la Rua. The now-despised leader left his palace yesterday amidst continued violent rioting, making it likely that the government will default on its $132 billion international debt. Economic incompetence and dithering brought down de la Rua, and the country will now most likely exchange him and his once-lauded free-market policies for the populist Peronists. Argentina's neighbors appear to have anticipated the crisis and remain economically stable.

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USA Today  leads with, and the NYT, LAT, and WP front, the news that the federal government will give an average of $1.65 million to families of victims of the Sept. 11attacks who waive their rights to sue for compensation. The cuts range from $300,000 to more than $4 million, with families of younger or higher-income workers getting the most. This money will come in addition to charitable aid. The LAT points out that the fund will give money to victims' same-sex partners.

Peeved at the slightly lower than expected funding, lobby groups argue for more money and critics call the system "an absolute disgrace" and "parsimonious." None of the dissidents mentions that the total pot of federal and charitable money for victims' families roughly matches the amount Afghanistan will get from the international community's current long-term aid plan.

The LAT and USAT front the news that U.S. troops will probably soon head into the caves of Tora Bora to look for information and bad guys, alive or dead, while dodging land mines and booby traps. The LAT calls the coming operation "a huge and dangerous engineering project" while noting that the troops may find Bin Laden's body and that the U.S. government reportedly has collected DNA samples from the terrorist leader's family for potential genetic identification purposes.

Nothing earth shattering happens with the three next-potential-major-disaster areas—Iraq, Pakistan, and Israel. The WP fronts another story about the Bush administration's endless deliberations over whether to try to take on Saddam Hussein. In this iteration, Colin Powell opposes doing it.

The NYT stuffs a story about an escalating conflict between Yasser Arafat and a senior Hamas leader whom Arafat futilely tried to arrest last night. Even though Arafat couldn't get to the leader, the NYT did and points out that he sat during an interview in his loveseat "before a china dish of candies that rested on a lace doily."

The NYT goes above the fold with news that President Bush has moved to freeze the assets of a Pakistani-based group he blames for the terrorist attack on India's parliament last week. Bush claims that both India and Pakistan's governments support the move—a somewhat doubtful proposition since the group in question has received support from parts of Pakistan's army and intelligence service. Bush also froze the assets of a Pakistani charity that, Bush claims, gave Bin Laden information on nuclear weapons earlier this year—surely a graver offense than anything done by the Red Cross recently.

The WSJ and WP front the news that the Senate failed to reach a deal on an economic stimulus package and will have to reconsider it next year after a recess. The deal broke down in large part over how to provide health insurance benefits to the jobless. Republicans insist that Democrats scuttled the deal for political purposes. Democrats insist that Republicans wanted to stiff the poor. Yawn.

The NYT reports that homicide numbers in several major U.S. cities have started increasing after a long decline. Possible explanations include recession and the large number of recently released prisoners. The LAT fronts a long piece describing the angst of architects who believe that their communal hubris may have contributed to the terrorist attacks and suggests that architects may be reaching a consensus that small is beautiful. "Whether [we] have the privilege of expressing their egos publicly as we've been doing for the past 10 years is really an open question," says one.

The hunt for Bin Laden may be fruitless but, according to a NYT report, researchers have discovered a 23-foot slimy squid species lurking on the ocean floor. Some of the following quotes are from the NYT story about the squid and others are from an LAT stories about Bin Laden. Try to guess which is which. Answers below.

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