Senate guarantees loans for nuclear power; Stevens' Alaska home is raided.

Senate guarantees loans for nuclear power; Stevens' Alaska home is raided.

Senate guarantees loans for nuclear power; Stevens' Alaska home is raided.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
July 31 2007 6:02 AM

Alaska Raid

The New York Timesleads with a look at a little-noticed provision tucked inside the energy bill, recently passed the Senate, that could provide billions of dollars in government loan guarantees for the construction of new nuclear power plants. Although providing loan guarantees for "clean" technology is not new, the provision removes all limits to the amounts that can be approved by the Energy Department. The Washington Postleads with news that federal agents raided Sen. Ted Stevens' home in Alaska in search of documents that could shed light into his relationship with an energy services company, Veco, and its chief executive, who bribed state officials.

The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with, and almost everyone fronts, the hospitalization of Chief Justice John Roberts after he suffered a seizure  at his summer home in Maine. USA Todayleads with a look at how the cost of gasoline is decreasing as the price of crude oil is nearing a record high. The Los Angeles Timesleads locally with news that a transplant surgeon was charged with giving a disabled man too many drugs in order to speed up his death and harvest his organs. Some think this case could lead doctors "to shy away from a somewhat controversial practice of retrieving organs before a patient is brain dead."

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The nuclear industry has said that it needs as much as $50 billion in loan guarantees over the next two years to finance major expansion projects, all of which it could receive (at least theoretically) with the Senate provision. And the nuclear industry wouldn't be the only beneficiary since all energy technologies that are considered "clean" could get the guarantees. The House is working on its own energy bill, and Democratic leaders have made it clear they oppose awarding loan guarantees for nuclear plants.

Yesterday's raid by FBI and IRS agents means the corruption investigation into the longest-serving Republican senator in history "has taken on new urgency," notes the NYT. The investigation is particularly significant because Stevens has long held much power in the Senate, where he was the chairman of the appropriations committee for six years. Bill Allen, the CEO of Veco, is said to have overseen renovation work on Stevens' home in 2000, and since that year the company received more than $30 million in federal contracts. Stevens said little yesterday but urged "Alaskans not to form conclusions based upon incomplete and sometimes incorrect reports in the media."

The Supreme Court's spokeswoman said Roberts suffered from what was described as a "benign idiopathic seizure," which means its cause is unknown, and a cadre of tests "revealed no cause for concern." Roberts had a similar episode 14 years ago, which lawmakers apparently knew about but chose not to bring up at his confirmation hearing because it did not seem serious. Everyone talks to doctors who say this type of episode is relatively common  and since the two episodes were so far apart he might decide to forgo medications, which have considerable side effects.

The NYT fronts a good look at the growing number of prison systems that are moving their inmates to out-of-state facilities to deal with overcrowding. Many are worried that this reliance on far-away prisons, which are usually private, will have a detrimental effect on rehabilitation as recidivism has been shown to decrease when inmates keep regular contact with their families. Also, a system that constantly moves prisoners around makes it more difficult for them to complete educational programs.

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Everyone mentions inside that the Iraqi parliament officially began its monthlong vacation. Lawmakers won't be back until Sept. 4, meaning that they almost definitely won't pass any key legislation before the much-awaited progress report to Congress in mid-September.

The NYT and WSJ go inside with word that News Corp.'s bid to buy Dow Jones appears to be closer than ever to becoming a reality, but discussions continue among Bancroft family members and the whole thing is still too close to call. The LAT also goes inside with the story but seems much less confident that the deal will go through. The NYT says family members representing more than 30 percent of the overall shareholder vote appeared to support the deal (the WSJ says 29 percent). News Corp. has made it clear it doesn't want any surprises and won't proceed with the offer unless it has a firm commitment from enough family members.

The NYT fronts a look at Chelsea Clinton, who might find herself "in a historic, head-spinning position of her own: the first first child twice over." It's still unclear how much involvement Chelsea will have in her mother's campaign, but everyone marvels at the fact that she's been able to hold on to a relatively normal life despite her larger-than-life parents. No one has anything negative to say about Chelsea, and the story really doesn't have any new information, but it's still an interesting read for those who like the more gossipy political stories (there might be a White House wedding!) and want an update on what she has been up to in the last few years.

Everyone always says famous people die in threes, and this time the three came in quick succesion. Almost everyone has a Page One obituary of Swedish director  Ingmar Bergman. The LAT and USAT front the death of Bill Walsh, who coached the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowl championships. And everyone mentions the death of Tom Snyder, the news anchor and late-night talk show host.

The NYT's John Tierney reports on a recent study that tried to figure out why people have sex. The top-ranked answer is pretty obvious: "I was attracted to the person." But others were a bit, well, less conventional: "burn calories," "keep warm," "change the topic of conversation," and "someone dared me," among many more (the full list is available here).

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.