Today's Papers

Slobo Surrenders (No Foolin’)

The New York Times leads with conclusions from a secret U.S. Navy study which found that Taiwan will need powerful new weapons if its military capability is to keep pace with China’s. The Los Angeles Times leads with former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s decision early Sunday morning to peacefully surrender to Serbian police after a 40-hour standoff and two attempted raids on his home. The Washington Post lead and the NYT off-lead went to press with the news that a defiant Milosevic had promised death before surrender, but the papers quickly replaced these stories on their Web sites with the updated information that Milosevic had indeed given up.

On Saturday, Milosevic repeatedly pledged to Serbian government officials that he would not leave his mansion alive. He changed his mind after negotiating with his would-be captors throughout the night and was taken to a Belgrade prison after surrendering to police at 4 a.m. According to the WP and LAT, Serbian authorities said that Milosevic surrendered after being reassured that he was not being arrested for war crimes but rather for domestic crimes such as abuse of power and theft of state secrets. No one was hurt during his arrest, though there was a burst of gunfire from his residence right before a convoy carried him away; the papers say Milosevic’s daughter had a breakdown and fired the shot.  During the standoff, the LAT reports, young couples on dates strolled by Milosevic’s compound to celebrate the former president’s predicament.  Milosevic is wanted by the U.N. criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and officials believe his arrest on domestic charges could clear the way for bringing him to The Hague. 

Among the weapons the U.S. military decided Taiwan needs, reports the NYT lead, is the Aegis, a ship-based radar system. The Chinese really want to keep this technology out of Taiwanese hands because they believe that it could become part of an anti-missile defense. Bush will give significant weight to the military’s opinion when making his decision on arms sales to Taiwan. The paper says Bush’s decision, which is expected in the next few weeks, could shape U.S.-Chinese relations for years to come. China considers any sign of closer U.S.-Taiwanese relations an affront and worries that giving Taiwan greater military capability will just encourage it to seek independence.

The papers keep milking the 2000 Census for stories, and today the WP off-lead uncovers a “broad social transformation” from the demographic data. Blacks and whites are more likely to live in the same neighborhood, in cities and suburbs across the country, than they were 10 years ago. Hispanics, however, have increasingly cloistered themselves in Hispanic communities. The paper gives little hard data on how radical these transformations are.

The NYT front highlights a trend that is gaining momentum nationwide: hospices in prisons. More inmates are dying in prison because of longer mandatory sentences, policies that keep criminal behind bars even when they no longer pose a threat to others, and the quadrupling of the U.S. prison population in the last 20 years. Prison is an unpleasant place for an ailing criminal to die and so now, prisons in 19 states see to it that the sickest are given real hospital beds, pain-killing drugs, and perhaps special bonuses such as the freedom to go out for fresh air or a bowlful of a favorite breakfast cereal. Patients are tended by fellow inmates trained in hospice care.

If the campaign-finance bill which is moving through the Senate becomes law, it would have a significant impact on modern politics, reports the WP front. The bill would curb the influence that political parties have on elections by drastically cutting their budgets. In the last election, the parties received nearly half a billion dollars in “soft money”–the unlimited funds from wealthy contributors that would be banned under the bill. Furthermore, the power of independent groups with agendas to push, such as gun control, the environment, and abortion, could be enhanced since they would not be subject to rules governing contributions.

The LAT goes below the fold with a profile of top Bush aide Karen Hughes which is pretty similar to the front-pager the Post ran on Hughes several days ago. Hughes, who the LAT calls Bush’s alter ego, molds Bush’s “simple assertions” into “real-world ideas” and is so in tune with the president that, according to legend, her lips move when he speaks.

Duke will meet Arizona in the NCAA basketball championship game. The LAT reefers the news, the NYT puts it on its sports front, and the WP runs a front pager on how a local team, Maryland, made a valiant attempt to stop Duke and in fact were up by 22 points at one time in the semi-final game.