Today's Papers

Ventura Suite

The New York Times and USA Today lead with the Dow’s record close–a fraction of a point shy of 11,300. The Los Angeles Times leads with the overturning of Proposition 5, which legalized Indian reservation casinos in California. The Washington Post’s top non-local story is the resignation of Notra Trulock, the Department of Energy whistleblower who insists that China stole nuclear secrets from Los Alamos.

A NYT article underscores that Trulock resigned to protest the curtailment of his role in the continuing nuclear espionage investigation. Last year, Trulock chose to provide secret testimony to a congressional panel that investigated the Chinese spying allegations. He claimed that his investigation was slowed by political interference. The resignation comes amid growing doubts about whether classified data leaked from Los Alamos and allegations that Trulock targeted Taiwanese-born Wen Ho Lee based on the physicist’s ethnicity.

Yesterday’s California Supreme Court decision, declaring Indian casinos to be in violation of a constitutional prohibition against gaming, threatens to shut down the state’s $1.36 billion gambling industry. NYT and USAT front-pagers note that the overturned proposition was passed after a $100 million campaign by interested parties. Pro-gambling tribes spent two-thirds of that total. Nevada casinos fearing encroachment on Las Vegas’ turf bankrolled an opposition campaign. Gov. Gray Davis vowed to find a constitutional way to keep the casinos, which employ 16,000 Californians, in business.

The 199-point jump in the Dow Jones industrial average came amid anticipation of a quarter-point raise in short-term interest rates. The Federal Reserve Board will announce its rate decision today. The Wall Street Journal explains that the market is interpreting the anticipated rate hike as the last raise this year and an effective means of keeping inflation at bay without slowing economic growth. USAT predicts that the market would deflate if the Fed hints it might raise interest rates again this year. All papers expect the Fed to hue to its “neutral bias” by indicating no predisposition toward a future rate adjustments. The NYT notes that the Dow has risen 23 percent so far this year, outpacing last year’s 16 percent gain.

Turkish earthquake follow-ups make the front-page of the Post and the LAT; the rest of papers carry the story inside. Relief teams complain that the Turkish government is encouraging them to leave, even though a 4-year-old was rescued from the rubble yesterday and survivors have been uncovered in ruins two weeks after previous quakes. The LAT reports that many Turks are leaving the earthquake zone because of a lack of shelter, fear of disease, and doubts that the devastated cities will be rebuilt.

Tests of a Pentagon missile-defense system were rigged, according to the LAT off-lead. Theater High Altitude Area Defense is a $15.4-billion system designed to protect battlefield troops by tracking and shooting down hostile missiles. It is intended for deployment in 2007, most likely in the Korean Peninsula. An official said favorable tests were “highly scripted” and further review, simulating field conditions, is necessary.

The NYT fronts an article on the academic pork barrel. Universities once received government grants through scientific foundations that rigorously reviewed research proposals. Now universities short-circuit this process by lobbying Congress for earmarked appropriations. Congress members insert deliberately obscure provisions into unrelated legislation to provide money for favored educational institutions. Colleges in the home states of powerful Appropriations Committee senators benefit from a disproportionate share of the pork.

The USAT cover story reports that a managed-care giant is attempting to cut emergency service costs by encouraging its customers to call the health plan before dialing 911. Critics condemn the attempt at “telephone triage.” They fear that insurers will fail to send the closest ambulance and deny care to dire cases.

One week after the paper published an inaccurate lead story, which left the false impression that $1 billion in international aid to Bosnia was stolen, the Times editorializes on why foreign aid is an unpopular cause. The paper condemns Congress’ myopic intent to cut foreign aid and argues that international assistance is a good investment because it can bolster political stability. Last Thursday the paper editorialized, “Outside help will soon dry up unless corruption is brought under control.” Now it opines, “Some American foreign aid money has been wasted in the past. But that is no reason to starve the entire program.”

The Post reports that Gov. Jesse Ventura has gained another distinction. A bedroom suite has been named in his honor at a Nevada brothel he once frequented.