Today's Papers

Covering the Heart Beat

The Los Angeles Times leads with the resolution of the agricultural and import issues that had been delaying China’s entry into the World Trade Organization. The paper says that China’s admission to the WTO is now “virtually assured by early next year.” The New York Times lead reports that dozens of U.S. death row inmates lack lawyers for their appeals, citing as an important reason high up the increasing unwillingness of private law firms to take on the expenses of death cases, and lower down adding that states and the federal government don’t adequately finance legal resources for those under death sentences. The Washington Post lead reports on budget tensions between the White House and House members, many of them Republicans. The problem: The Bush tax-cut-based budget only allows for an annual spending increase of 4 percent, but House members have requested almost 19,000 special expenditures targeted to their home districts–if all passed, the Post explains, the resultant spending increase would be like doubling the Pentagon’s budget. USA Today leads with an update on that artificial heart implant done Monday in Louisville, Ky. The paper reports that yesterday, the patient, a man in his mid-50s, was taken off a respirator and that his doctors were optimistic he might live for months or even years. The NYT fronter on the procedure (which includes some terrific reporting) has the doctors “elated” and optimistic that their patient would be able to return to daily activities. USAT says that four other implantations of the same self-contained mechanical heart are planned.

The NYT lead identifies a big reason private law firms have retreated from death row: those $125,000 starting salaries they began handing out to associates two years ago have put a big crimp in pro bono work. The story says the most troublesome states for death appeals are Alabama and Georgia, the only two that do not guarantee counsel to death row inmates after their initial direct appeal to the highest state court. In Alabama, says the story, 40 of the “approximately 185 death row inmates” (why can’t the Times find out the exact number?) do not have lawyers. The story adds these examples of the numbers of unrepresented condemned in other states: 10 in Louisiana and 161 in California. But it doesn’t explain how these are possible given the implication that in these states, death-sentenced inmates have an unconditioned right to counsel.

The hero of the WP lead is White House budget director Mitchell Daniels, credited by one unnamed senior WH staffer as conducting a “jihad” against hometown spending increases. The villain is probably Republican Rep. Tom DeLay, who is quoted saying during the tax-cut debate, “Republicans want you to keep more of your hard-earned money. … The Democratic leadership wants to take away more of what you earn to pay for their big-government spending,” but is then fingered as having recently ensured that the corporate jet airport near Houston he’s championed in the past is still earmarked for “priority” federal spending.

The WP off-leads the latest from the paper’s ongoing survey of U.S. racial attitudes–this one finding that most of the bi-racial couples it interviewed report widespread tolerance and even acceptance of their relationships. The story’s first sentence grabs attention with its reminder that until a Supreme Court decision 34 years ago threw them out, there were state laws banning interracial marriages.

An LAT front-pager says that the delivery for trial of Slobodan Milosevic has put heat on the other leading indicted Balkan war crimes suspects, including the president of Serbia. And, an inside story at the NYT, mirrored by AP stories appearing inside elsewhere, reports that the Bosnian Serb government has, in a turnaround from its previous position, announced its willingness to arrest suspects indicted by the U.N. international war crimes tribunal in the Hague. The paper says the announcement appeared to be “closing the net around” Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, the two Bosnian Serbs most wanted by the tribunal on charges of genocide conducted during the mid-’90s Bosnian war between Serbs and Moslems.

USAT reports that a close relative of missing intern Chandra Levy told the paper–and police–that Levy had confided to her that she was having an affair with Rep. Gary Condit and had received a gold bracelet and airline tickets from him as gifts. The story quotes this response from the congressman’s chief of staff: “I don’t know anything about this stuff–the tickets, the conversations, the bracelet, anything. … If people are convinced there is a relationship, show us how it is related to the disappearance.” The relative’s remarks include another fresh area for police investigation: Thai and sushi dinners Levy said she’d with Condit in the D.C. suburbs. The USAT story and wire stories elsewhere report that Condit cancelled Fourth of July appearances at several home district parades he usually attends.

In an LAT op-ed, an L.A. cardiologist says that in receiving a defibrillator implant, Dick Cheney is “light years beyond what is being done in the general medical community.” That’s because of the 40,000 defibrillator implants annually done in the U.S., “almost all” are for patients who have already been resuscitated after a cardiac arrest, and only 5 percent to 10 percent are strictly preventative, as in Cheney’s case. The doctor wonders if “the Cheney standard” will now be accepted for all heart patients.