Bill Clinton takes surprise trip to North Korea to push for release of American journalists.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Aug. 4 2009 6:35 AM

A Clinton in North Korea

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In the WP's op-ed page, Gwen Ottinger writes that while trading in clunkers might help the economy, the truth is that, like other programs to encourage green consumption, it doesn't really help the environment. Replacing a car creates real environmental costs because it takes energy and resources to build new things and dispose of old ones, an inconvenient set of facts that are often ignored. Encouraging energy-efficient consumption can also result in greater energy use "by confusing efficiency with consumption." For example, people might buy Energy Star refrigerators, when the truth is that if consumers simply bought a smaller model they'd likely save even more energy.

The papers report that Michael Jackson's mother was awarded permanent custody of the singer's three children yesterday. The judge also approved a monthly allowance of an undisclosed amount for Jackson's mother and the children. The control of Jackson's estate is still an open issue. Two men close to Jackson were named in the will, but it seems the Jackson family might consider contesting it on the grounds that they took advantage of Jackson's addictions.

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The NYT's Frequent Flier column talks to Timothy Janus, a 32-year-old former day trader who is now a regular participant in eating contests and holds seven world records involving tamales, grits, and cannoli, among others. When flying home after a competition, Janus often feels sorry for the people sitting next to him. "I can affect the environment around me in a very unfortunate way," Janus says."Without getting too specific, I think it's enough to say that when you've eaten 53 hot dogs, you smell as if you've eaten 53 hot dogs, no matter how hard you try to get rid of the stench."

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.