Top News

This Week | The Top 5 news stories as measured by coverage in The Washington Post, USA Today, and NBC Nightly News over a one-week period from May 14 to 21

Issue: "Will Kurds stand alone?," June 1, 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.
September 11
222 points | Democrats began criticizing President George W. Bush's handling of the terrorist attacks by complaining that the GOP was offering donors a Sept. 11 photo of the president on Air Force One talking on the phone to Vice President Cheney. CBS News then started a larger furor by reporting that the president had received an August intelligence briefing that terrorists associated with Osama bin Laden were discussing the possibility of hijacking airplanes. Congress stepped up plans to investigate intelligence failures, but internal strife roiled the House-Senate panel, which now faces the question of how much information Congress had before Sept. 11. The committee will interview an FBI agent in Phoenix who warned superiors about suspicious Arabs in Arizona flight schools and urged a nationwide check of flight schools two months before the attacks.
War on terror
126 points | Hundreds of British Royal Marines and other coalition forces, aided by U.S. warplanes, swept through eastern Afghanistan to combat a "substantial enemy force," the first serious engagement in weeks. Elsewhere in the region, U.S. special forces soldier Arden Vance, a member of the West Virginia National Guard, died during a brief firefight, bringing the total number of Americans killed in action to 22. Government officials began warning of more terror to come. Vice President Dick Cheney said on NBC's Meet the Press that despite "some success in disrupting" the al-Qaeda network, another terrorist attack is "almost certain" and "could happen tomorrow, it could happen next week, it could happen next year." FBI Director Robert Mueller told prosecutors in Virginia that a suicide bomb attack similar to those in Israel is "inevitable" in the United States.
Catholics in crisis
68 points | Violence marked the latest developments in the Catholic Church's struggle with sexual abuse by priests. Baltimore priest Maurice Blackwell was shot by a man who filed a claim in 1993 that Rev. Blackwell had fondled him over a three-year period. (He was placed on leave after more accusations in 1998.) In Silver Spring, Md., accused Connecticut priest Alfred Bietighofer hanged himself at the St. Luke Institute for troubled clergy. Catholics are divided over a "one strike, you're out" policy to be discussed at a U.S. bishops conference on June 13. "We are in the business of forgiveness, but certainly the victim has to come first," said Washington D.C. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who champions the tough policy. Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles admitted he erred in giving a second chance to an abusive priest.
Cuban reform
60 points | In a 20-minute speech in Spanish, former president Jimmy Carter called on Cuba to follow the Latin American trend toward democracy. He praised Fidel Castro's "superb systems of health care and universal education"; cited the U.S.'s prison population, death penalty, and lack of socialized medicine; and concluded that "my nation is hardly perfect in human rights." Mr. Carter called for the lifting of the 40-year-old U.S. embargo of the communist country. Six days later in Miami, on the 100th anniversary of Cuba's independence from Spain, President Bush told a raucous Cuban-American crowd that "Cuba's independence and the hopes for democracy were hijacked by a brutal dictator who cares everything for his own power and nada for the Cuban people." Mr. Bush said he would not end the embargo unless Cuba's scheduled elections for the National Assembly next year are free and fair.
Mideast battles
55 points | Faced with foreign and domestic demands, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called for broad reforms and new elections purportedly to improve life for the people who live under his 8-year-old limited rule, but the speech was short on specifics, such as a date for elections. The last Palestinian elections were in 1996, when Mr. Arafat won overwhelmingly. But Palestinians have grown louder in their complaints, especially about why the multiple security services under Mr. Arafat did little to provide protection when the Israeli army retaliated for suicide bombings. A Palestinian dressed in an Israeli army uniform strolled into a fruit-and-vegetable market in Netanya and exploded a powerful bomb, killing three and wounding more than 50. Arkady Wieselman, a chef who had stepped into a freezer and narrowly missed dying in the Passover bombing at the Park Hotel two months ago, was one of the victims in the market.

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