Today's Papers

Cinema Inspiration Agency

The Washington Post leads with a report from Syria on Day 2 of the pope’s six-day journey to retrace a route taken by Paul the apostle. The New York Times leads with findings by scientists at national laboratories that the government could produce significant energy savings if it encouraged Americans to conserve.  The Los Angeles Times lead reports that hospitals are running out of some common drugs because pharmaceutical companies don’t want to manufacture these less profitable drugs anymore.

According to the WP lead and stories inside the other papers, the pope arrived to a warm welcome from the people of Damascus, where he spoke of religious tolerance and prayed for Middle East peace. But the pope’s host, the Syrian president, wasn’t listening to his message. According to NYT reporting, he greeted the pope with a speech about how Israel is torturing and killing Palestinians and suggested that Christians and Muslims band together against “those who try to kill the principles of all religions with the same mentality with which they betrayed Jesus Christ.” The pope took the president’s remarks in stride and, according to the LAT, re-emphasized his hope that the region might find peace.

Scientists at five national laboratories have found that growth in electricity demand could be reduced by up to 47 percent if the government can get offices, homes, factories, cars, appliances, and power plants to use less energy, reports the NYT lead. That means we would need up to 610 fewer new power plants than the 1,300 the Bush administration believes we will require in the next 20 years. Some ways to conserve energy, the paper reports, include using fluorescent lights, low-flow shower heads, and new home heating and cooling systems. The paper observes that the administration has not publicized the scientists’ findings. Instead, it prefers to use research by economists at the Energy Department who think that some of the scientists’ ideas work in theory but do not make for practical policy.

The LAT lead notes that pharmaceutical companies have greater economic incentive to produce drugs that millions of outpatients take rather than drugs used exclusively in hospitals. Therefore, hospitals are being forced to ration certain drugs. While there have been no reported deaths as a result of drug shortages, hospitals say that running out of some drugs endangers patients. The government currently doesn’t force pharmaceutical companies to continue manufacturing drugs, nor does it require that companies warn hospitals when they plan to discontinue a certain drug, except in rare circumstances. Frustrated doctors want the government to better regulate the companies’ policies.

The WP off-leads a look at the adjustments the Senate Finance Committee will likely recommend for the Bush tax plan. The committee thinks that the majority of Americans who are in the lowest income tax bracket should get a bigger portion of the tax cut than the wealthy. The committee also wants to reduce the burden that payroll taxes put on most American workers, though Bush’s plan doesn’t recommend changes in these taxes. The paper calls the Finance Committee, which is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, a microcosm of the Senate as a whole. It speculates, therefore, that the Senate’s final version of the tax plan will reflect the committee’s recommendations. 

The WP front reminds readers that major policies the Bush administration now plans to muscle into place–private savings accounts for Social Security, using nuclear power to make electricity for the U.S., and constructing a national missile defense that could mean dumping the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty–mean significant changes in America’s decades-old policies. Bush has gumption. For a president who barely won the election, the Post says, such an ambitious agenda is very politically risky.

Bad sports on the bleachers at children’s sporting events have become so obnoxious that cities nationwide are taking steps to teach these adults to behave, says the NYT front. In some places, such measures include requiring parents to take classes on proper fan behavior and banning inappropriate screaming from coaches and parents during a game. Two dozen states are working on legislation to create tougher punishments for attacking referees.

The secretive CIA has become more willing to work with Hollywood on film and television projects in recent years, reports the NYT front. A few years back, “The Agency,” which receives a dozen scripts a month, assigned one of its operatives a new mission: to serve as a liaison between the CIA and Hollywood. Since then, the CIA, hoping to convince the American public that intelligence agenices really do need a $30 billion yearly budget even though they have no single major enemy to spy on, has worked on projects it deems sympathetic.  The CIA’s new cooperative attitude toward movie-making isn’t the only recent change at the agency. According to the Hollywood liaison, “We’ve got a store and a fine arts commission and a museum. We’ve really become more, well, normal in our daily course of events.”