Top News

This Week | The Top 5 news stories as measured by coverage in The Washington Post, USA Today, and NBC Nightly News from April 23 to 30

Issue: "House hunting," May 11, 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.
Mideast battles
172 points | After a series of phone calls by President Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, a divided Israeli cabinet agreed to accept a U.S. plan to lift the siege around Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah. The plan will allow Mr. Arafat to travel freely with the expectation that he "must perform" in combating terrorism. Mr. Bush welcomed Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, to discuss a plan to force Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, which political leaders of the Jewish state will not accept. Around the diplomacy, violence continued. Armed Palestinians disguised as Israeli soldiers raided the Jewish settlement of Adora on the West Bank on the morning of the Jewish Sabbath, shooting into homes and killing four, including a 5-year-old girl. In retaliation, Israeli tanks, gunships, and armored personnel carriers rolled into Hebron, arresting dozens of Palestinian militants and killing nine.
Catholics in crisis
145 points | After two days of meetings in Rome between Pope John Paul II and U.S. cardinals, the church leaders produced a communique proposing that diocesan-level officials impose a much more rapid process of suspending and investigating priests suspected of sexual abuse of minors. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington proposed a "one strike and you're out" policy, but the joint statement did not explicitly endorse that stand. Other Vatican officials are concerned about creating due process for priests who may be falsely accused. The statement also proposed a more rigorous investigation of seminaries and their admission policies and the need for them to "teach Catholic moral doctrine in its integrity." Another release of documents from the Boston archdiocese confirmed church officials knew that Father Paul Shanley advocated sex between men and boys even as they transferred him to a parish in Newton, Mass. Father Shanley had protested the move as discrimination against "sexual minorities," and threatened to expose others.
War on terror
89 points | The war on al-Qaeda shifted to Pakistan, as covert U.S. military units participated in attacks on purported terrorist hideouts along the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Pakistani government officials asked the Americans to keep them in the dark about firefights in the semi-autonomous tribal areas. As Gen. Pervez Musharraf prepared for a successful referendum to add democratic legitimacy to his military coup, Pakistani officials maintained they have no knowledge of U.S. operations in the area. Small rocket attacks on American positions have been relatively harmless, but two American-occupied airports outside of Khost, southeast of the Afghan capital city of Kabul, are located in vulnerable, flat, open desert with little in the way of defensive positions. Afghan officials would not say whether local forces would assist U.S. forces inside Pakistan. Local militia commander Bacha Khan marred a visit to Kabul by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with a rocket attack in the city of Gardez, which reportedly killed two dozen civilians.
War on Iraq?
64 points | TeamBush whispered in Washington that it probably will not wage war on Iraq until next year. The New York Times reported that the administration is developing plans for an air and ground war that would involve anywhere from 70,000 to 250,000 troops. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle insisted that America must wrap up the war in Afghanistan and work on peace in the Middle East before turning its "strong bipartisan support" to the task of ousting Saddam Hussein. In a Baghdad interview, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw asked Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz whether Iraq had contacts with the al-Qaeda network. Mr. Aziz said no. Meanwhile, U.S. investigators admitted they no longer believe that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Europe last year, eliminating the only publicly known link between Saddam Hussein's government and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Homeland security
52 points | Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that more than 140 employees of the Washington area's three major airports-Dulles, Reagan National, and Baltimore-Washington International (BWI)-have been indicted for lying about their identities or criminal records on applications to work at airports. The indicted include baggage handlers, food-service workers, and janitors. Mr. Ashcroft said the five-month investigation of 35,000 security-badge applicants "should be a wake-up call to every airport in America." The Transportation Security Agency (TSA), created after 9/11, rolled out its first all-federal checkpoint at BWI. Federal workers will screen passengers at two of the airport's five checkpoints. The government will take over the other three checkpoints within a month, making the airport the first in the country with an all-federal security work force. Meanwhile, leaders of the House Transportation Committee introduced a bill to let Congress (and not the TSA) decide whether pilots should be armed with handguns.

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