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Issue: "Guns & Poses," April 13, 2002
Scoring system:5 points for news stories appearing on the front page of The Washington Post, 3 for stories on the next two pages of the "A" section, and 1 thereafter. Same formula for USA Today, except the values are doubled to account for its national circulation. Stories carried on NBC Nightly News receive 10 points if they run before the first ad break, 6 between the first and second break, and 2 thereafter. Anchor-read stories earn 2 points early, 1 point late.
1
Mideast battles and bombings (238 points)
2
Mideast peace talks (175 points)
In the midst of suicide bombings and military reactions, diplomats, politicians, reporters, and religious leaders continued to promote peace negotiations, including the proposal of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, who proposed shrinking Israel to pre-1967 borders and allowing Palestinians a "right of return," which Israelis reject as the end of the Jewish state. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) called for "much bolder moves by the Bush administration to enter the diplomatic fray," including sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to the region to work on the "hopeful parts" of Prince Abdullah's plan. The United Nations passed a resolution (supported by the United States) calling for Israel to withdraw from its offensive, fueling Bush critics who insisted American policy looked muddled,
3
The war on terror (69 points)
As the war faded off the front pages, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned in an MSNBC interview that another terrorist attack is likely: "There's bound to be some event. It could be as we're sitting here, which has happened before to me. But we've got a lot of pressure on them, and we're gonna keep the pressure on." A dramatic early-morning raid by agents of the CIA, FBI, and Pakistani police led to the capture of 31-year-old Palestinian Abu Zubaydah, the highest-ranking al-Qaeda leader in American hands. After 9/11, U.S. officials believe Mr. Zubaydah took over much of al-Qaeda's daily operations from Osama bin Laden. He's believed to have had a role in the 1993 World Trade Center attack and a foiled "millennium bomb" plot at Los Angeles International Airport in 1999. U.S. officials hope he'll offer new intelligence about al-Qaeda operations.
4
Terror on trial (51 points)
Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that the U.S. government will seek the death penalty against French citizen Zaccarias Moussaoui, the only person criminally charged in the 9/11 attack probe. French officials said they wanted to share evidence only on the counts that do not carry the death penalty. In a separate 10-count indictment, prosecutors are charging American citizen John Walker Lindh with conspiring to kill U.S. nationals and providing support to the al-Qaeda network, but they did not charge him with the death of CIA officer "Mike" Spann, who interrogated Lindh shortly before he was killed. Lindh lawyers released photos of their client bound, blindfolded, and naked in custody, charging mistreatment as he was held in Afghanistan.
5
Afghanistan rebuilds (34 points)
As if the devastation of the war on al-Qaeda and their Taliban hosts weren't enough, two earthquakes in northern Afghanistan killed at least 1,800 people and injured more than 3,000. Fourteen villages were destroyed and about 30,000 people were left homeless as the ground shook from the epicenter in the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains, as relief agencies raced to the scene. (Two major quakes in the same region in 1998 killed nearly 10,000.) Meanwhile, in Kabul, a 21-member commission organizing the nation's first loya jirga (grand assembly) announced it might allow some ousted Taliban officials to participate in a six-day June conclave to draft constitutions and build democracy, if they could prove they hadn't engaged in terrorism, drug smuggling, or war crimes.

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