Today's Papers

Another Stock Response

Everybody leads with the somewhat surprising joint announcement from President Bush and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Genoa, Italy, at the end of the economic summit there that the two countries will begin discussing ways to link the U.S. development of a missile-defense system to reductions in each of their nuclear arsenals. Everybody offers an explanation of what’s in this for each leader, with USA Today perhaps giving the most succinct: “Putin wants to avoid a costly arms race, and Bush wants to pursue a missile defense without creating tensions with Russia.”

The papers all recognize that the Bush-Putin statement is far from a definitive result, but not all to the same degree. The big print over the USAT lead says “RUSSIA, U.S. TO REDUCE ARSENALS,” and at the Washington Post, it’s “BUSH, PUTIN AGREE ON DISARMAMENT.” The Los Angeles Times, with its “U.S., RUSSIA AGREE TO WIDEN MISSILE TALKS,” and the New York Times, with “BUSH AND PUTIN TIE ANTIMISSILE TALKS TO BIG ARMS CUTS,” seem more clear-eyed. The LAT says very high that “neither Bush nor Putin offered any details of what the next steps will be, suggesting they have a long way to go,” while the WP waits until the 29th paragraph to use an expert’s comment that “[j]ust because Putin is willing to talk doesn’t mean he’s willing to agree.”

But everybody save USAT has a Putin quote suggesting that some real progress is at hand–his comment that if the two countries can look at both missile offense and defense together, then Russia–in contrast to previous Putin hard-line reactions to U.S. noises about missile defense–“might not ever need to look at” the option of introducing more multiple warheads into its missile force.

After the joint statement, they listened to Judy Garland albums together for hours. The LAT, noting that Bush’s effusive comments about Putin after their last meeting drew criticism from U.S. conservatives, found Bush to be “more restrained” about Putin this time. But the WP reports, “Bush, who commented about Putin’s eyes and soul after their first meeting, in Slovenia, talked this time about his own heart. ‘I was struck by how easy it is to talk to President Putin, how easy it is to speak from my heart, without, you know, fear of complicating any relationship,’ Bush said.” Several papers have this Putin comment about Bush: “It seemed to me that his mental reasoning is very deep, very profound. Both of us are aiming at partnership.” And the LAT notes what all the papers’ pictures confirm–the two men were dressed almost identically.

USAT runs a front-pager stating flatly that the U.S. economy just wouldn’t function without immigrant labor. Immigrants, including 8.5 million here illegally, says the story, now make up 13 percent of U.S. workers–the highest percentage since the 1930s. And “they dominate job categories at both ends of the economic spectrum,” holding 35 percent of unskilled jobs, and also many in Silicon Valley. A surprising example: The Chicago school system recently hired 110 new teachers from 31 countries.

The NYT fronts another way in which foreigners are becoming important to the U.S. economy–as hospital patients. Hospitals in New York and other big U.S. cities are finding them to be important for their bottom lines because in the words of one health-care financial expert quoted in the story, “First, most of them pay the full amount that the hospitals charge. … Second, they only come for very expensive, high-tech procedures.”

The Wall Street Journal online site carries an AP story, first broken in the National Journal, which says that last month, presidential adviser Karl Rove met with two lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry while he owned nearly a quarter of a million dollars of stock in Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. (He has since sold all his stock holdings.) A spokeswoman for the lobbyists reassures that they and Rove only “talked very generally about prescription drug coverage and Medicare reform and how to expand access to prescription drugs for seniors, issues we’ve been talking about for a long time.” The story reminds that Rove previously held a meeting with Intel executives while holding stock in that company.

Yesterday, the NYTMagazine put one of Ronald Reagan’s daughters, Patti Davis, to good use by having her sniff out some padding in the recent renovation requests the Bush White House has submitted to Congress. Davis used the novel but sensible watchdog technique of comparison-pricing these home repairs on the stratospheric Southern California market she knows and loves. So, for instance, that $430,000 pool repair the Bush people put in for? Davis says a pool contractor in Bel Air she knows (and mentions by name) would build a brand-new pool there for $80,000.

Proving once again that all the wrong people are comfortable with their bodies, USAT does a feature on boomer bikini babes–women in their 40s and 50s who favor miniskirts and halter tops–which, as two big (and too big) color pictures prove, don’t return the favor.

Coming tomorrow: doors that squeak. How slow a news day is a Monday in July? Well, the WSJ uses 1,100 words on its front to try to get to the bottom of a persistent problem that threatens to destroy modern civilization: those wobbly tables in restaurants. Finding? There’s something wrong with the tables or maybe it’s the floors.