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 30 to May 7

Issue: "Osama's witnesses," May 18, 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
196 points | Hours after Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat emerged from his Ramallah compound, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced plans for a Mideast peace conference in Europe in early summer. But TeamBush plans to match international negotiations with efforts to refashion a proposed Palestinian state. In an East Room press conference, President Bush insisted that any new state should be based on democracy and civil society and Òcannot be based on a foundation of terror or corruption.Ó Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon arrived in Washington and suggested Mr. Arafat should be left out of any peace talks. Bush officials downplayed evidence the Israelis brought proving Mr. Arafat's connections to terror, suggesting the president doesn't need to be convinced. Against White House wishes, the House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution by a vote of 352-21 supporting Israel and condemning Mr. Arafat. House members realize that the best way to gain peace is to show Israel's neighbors that they must be neighborly.
War on terror
80 points | In the hunt for al-Qaeda's financial spigots, federal prosecutors filed perjury charges against Enaam Arnaout, executive director of the Chicago-based Benevolence International Foundation (BIF). They accused him of directing money and equipment to Osama bin Laden and his operatives, including some who were seeking nuclear and chemical weapons. Much of the case is built on papers seized in March from BIF's offices in Bosnia. From May 1998 through April 2000, BIF's U.S. office received about $5 million in donations for humanitarian causes. Multiple missions by U.S. and British forces continue to search for highly mobile al-Qaeda and Taliban units by crossing over the border into Pakistan after nightfall and returning to Afghanistan before daybreak. Allied forces hope to flush out hidden Islamic militants with the help of Pakistani troops.
Homeland security
76 points | Momentum grew on Capitol Hill for giving airline pilots the right to carry guns aboard commercial jets. Three Republican senators and Democratic Sen. Zell Miller unveiled a bill echoing the House's pilot-arming proposal. But the congressional leadership's plans for aviation security emphasized higher taxes on airline passengers. House leaders want to double the security fee fliers pay per flight leg from $2.50 to $5 to help cover the burgeoning costs of screening luggage and hiring more federal checkpoint officials. Faded worries about homeland security returned when six pipe bombs exploded in mailboxes in rural Illinois and Iowa, injuring four mail carriers and two customers. Over the next three days, authorities discovered eight more bombs scattered in Nebraska and another in Colorado. After another bomb was found in Amarillo, Texas, the FBI took into custody for questioning Luke John Helder of Pine Island, Minn., a 21-year-old student at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and a singer in a rock band called Apathy.
Enron scandal
67 points | Rising prices at the gas pump turned media attention back to failed energy giant Enron. Embattled Army Secretary Thomas White, the only senior Enron official to join TeamBush, drew further fire for promoting the $11 billion Crusader mobile artillery system directly against the wishes of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The Senate Armed Services Committee condemned Mr. White in March for failing to divest all of his Enron holdings despite his claims that he had. Although Mr. White's job is in doubt, the weapons system is expected to be fully funded by the House and Senate for 2003. Meanwhile, Enron released documents to federal and state investigators showing that Enron traders tried to create the appearance of energy shortages and force declarations of energy blackouts that may not have been necessary. They worked to evade wholesale price controls on California electricity.
Catholics in crisis
61 points | Against the wishes of Cardinal Bernard Law, the Archdiocese of Boston backed out of a multimillion-dollar settlement with 86 persons who say they are victims of defrocked priest John Geoghan. The archdiocese feared the estimated cost of $15 million to $30 million would leave it without money to settle with remaining sexual-abuse claimants. The March settlement came after 11 months of negotiations, but the growing number of victims is putting the diocese in a pinch. The diocese has already paid out $15 million to 40 of Mr. Geoghan's alleged victims. Cardinal Law has been ordered to give a deposition in a civil lawsuit on June 5. In San Diego, police seized former priest Paul Shanley on a Massachusetts warrant on three counts of child rape. Mr. Shanley agreed to be extradited to stand trial. Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley charged some of the attacks took place in the confessional.

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