The New York Times leads with American hospitals engaging in their own form of deportation—sending injured illegal immigrants back to their homelands because no American health care provider will accept uninsured aliens. The Washington Postleads with doubts about Bruce Ivins, the scientist who killed himself this week before being indicted by the FBI in an investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks. Friends and colleagues describe Ivins as a content man without the means or motive to carry out deadly chemical attacks. Online, the Los Angeles Timesleads with another installment of its 2008 Summer Olympics countdown, a personal essay by an LAT correspondent who was born in Beijing.
The “apparently widespread” practice of hospitals repatriating seriously injured or ill immigrants represents “the collision of two deeply flawed American systems, immigration and health care,” the NYT’s 6,000-word lead storyreports. The deportations are entirely private, as “American immigration authorities play no role,” and are often the conclusion to a string of events that has cost a hospital millions of dollars. Most of the lengthy piece narrates the tragic story of a Guatemalan immigrant who, after being maimed in a collision with a drunk driver, was eventually returned to the remote village where only his elderly mother now cares for him.
The FBI anthrax probe could be shuttered as early as tomorrow, the WP reports, which would “amount to a strong signal that the FBI and Justice Department think they got their man—and that he is dead, foreclosing the possibility of a prosecution.” Colleagues and former acquaintances are sharply divided on that question: One argues that Ivins worked with anthrax daily and could have easily removed it from his lab without detection; another does not think anyone at USAMRIID would have “the foggiest idea” how to make powdered anthrax. Ivins’ former therapist, a Frederick, Md., social worker, petitioned for court protection because of her suspicions that Ivins was a revenge killer who had previously attempted murder. The NYT takes the analytical road, wondering if the military’s increase in biological counterterrorism has given more people access to deadly chemical weapons.
The LATand NYTfront news that federal officials have underestimated the number of HIV infections in the United States by 40 percent for almost a decade. New technologies have provided more accurate readings, leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to up the annual number of infections from 40,000 to around 53,000. The epidemic is not growing, as that figure has been constant for the entire last decade that numbers have been underestimated. The LAT notes that the higher estimates are “a jarring reminder that the United States, while castigating prevention efforts in much of the world, has not been able to get a firm grip on its own problems.”
The LAT has this week’s Sunday-paper must-read, an autobiographical essay by Times reporter Ching-Chang Ni that begins, “I was born in a Beijing that has vanished.” Ni returned to her homeland in 2000, after 20 years in the United States, and found it unrecognizable: “While I was gone, China had morphed from a closed communist society with few material comforts into a market-driven economy in which anything seems possible, and purchasable.” At the 2008 Summer Olympics, the globe will look primarily upon the sheen of that recent progress—”the world will see the country in all its glory, with as much of the dark side tucked away as possible.” As Ni leaves China, this time with her husband and two small children, she can’t assure their country will be the same when they return. All she will promise, Ni writes, is that they will return: “The only thing I can tell them for sure is that we are not leaving Daddy behind and we will not be gone forever.”
The NYT fronts a report on the rapid multiplication of jellyfish in coastal waters around the world, a phenomenon some scientists attribute to climate change, overfishing, and pollution. Designed to thrive in “damaged” environments, jellyfish often survive pollution and breed rapidly in the warmer waters. The problem has mostly been noticed on the shore as a result of closed beaches and clogged nets, but could be the symptom of deeper issues in the world’s oceans.
A front-page piece in the WP follows Bill Clinton’s “return to ambassador role,” as the headline reads, after the end of Hillary’s presidential campaign. There’s remarkably little to take away from his “first extended interview since his wife exited the campaign in defeat”—Clinton refuses to discuss his own blunders on the campaign trail and does not have any unusual advice for the Obama campaign. Much more entertaining is a visual comparison in the Post’s Style section of word clouds generated by Barack Obama’s and John McCain’s campaign blogs.
Compiling the complaints of annoyed New Yorkers, the NYT Arts & Leisure section constructs a piece on the city’s summer European invasion, which makes many Manhattanites feel like members of an endangered species. Europeans, lured by New York’s concentration of chic and the weakness of the U.S. dollar, are crowding the city’s upscale boutiques and trendy restaurants to spend with reckless abandon—as if New York were “the Wal-Mart of hip.”