Top News

This Week | The Top 5 news stories as measured by coverage in The Washington Post, USA Today, and NBC Nightly News from Aug. 28 to Sept. 3

Issue: "BMOC: Big mandate on campus," Sept. 14, 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.


chatty & wealthy

190 | The search for potential terror attacks focused on Sweden, where a 29-year-old Muslim named Kerim Chatty was arrested for trying to smuggle a firearm onto a flight to London. Mr. Chatty's contacts with violent Muslim radicals in prison and a bumbled set of lessons at a South Carolina flight school in 1996 led Swedish authorities to deny bail requests. An avid bodybuilder, Mr. Chatty was jailed in 1997 for brawling with U.S Marines in a Stockholm bar and had been convicted of several firearm offenses. International teams working to separate al-Qaeda from their funding sources are not always succeeding. U.S. investigators told The Washington Post that financial officers of al-Qaeda and the Taliban have quietly shipped large quantities of gold out of Pakistan to Sudan in recent weeks, enough gold to indicate that the terrorist forces still have large financial reserves. Osama bin Laden lived in Sudan from 1991 to 1996.


pulling out the stops

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100 | Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein is taking action to keep international support from building for U.S. military action. Foreign minister Tariq Aziz took to the airwaves claiming his government is willing to allow in United Nations arms inspectors to search for weapons of mass destruction after four years of refusing UN supervision. TeamBush was not impressed. "Iraq changes positions on whether they'll let the inspectors back in more often than Saddam Hussein changes bunkers," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer quipped. But the White House was also accused of changed positions. While Vice President Dick Cheney warned in a speech that inspections could provide "false comfort" and are not the prime American objective in Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell told British television that "as a first step, let's see what the inspectors find," although he added inspections alone would not "give us the kind of assurance we could take to the bank."


al-aqsa one more time

53 | Despite relative quiet (no suicide bombings since Aug. 4), Israel began debating whether the army has gotten too "trigger-happy" after the shooting of four young Palestinian men who had no firearms. Palestinians claimed the men were marched away from the quarry where they worked and were shot. The army said they were warned of an impending attack by four men and found them trying to cut through a Jewish settlement's fence. Controversy also surrounded a missile attack targeting militants in the West Bank city of Tubas. One Palestinian militant was killed, but the explosions also killed four children. Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres called civilian deaths "very regrettable" and said the army would work to prevent them. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for executing a Palestinian woman, charging that she collaborated with Israeli security services. Ikhlas Khouli, 35, was the first woman among several dozen alleged collaborators killed in the 23-month uprising.


1992, the sequel

48 | The arrival of Labor Day signaled another feisty fall campaign, which could be the last elections before McCain-Feingold spending restrictions kick in. From all the political talk, you'd think it was 1992. The GOP is hoping voters focus on successful military action abroad and the need for an effective national defense, while Democrats are expecting to focus on the domestic economy and corporate scandals. Steve Moore, the conservative economist behind The Club for Growth, warns that if the economy and the stock market continue to stumble, "Republicans are going to lose the House and could lose seats in the Senate." The House battle will be a test of historical trends. While the president's party has lost House seats in every midterm election but one since 1934, the continuing shift of congressional districts into Bush states in the South and West, as well as the increase in GOP-held state legislatures that often draw districts, could offset any losses.


play ball, senators?

45 | Major League Baseball's owners and players averted an approaching strike and the unhappy public-relations prospect of parks going dark before the anniversary of Sept. 11. The owners promised the players' union they would not eliminate any teams through the contract's end in 2006. For the first time, players agreed to random drug testing and some moves toward greater competitive balance between richer and poorer teams, including revenue-sharing and a "luxury tax" on payrolls higher than $117 million. The new terms were good news to the threatened Minnesota Twins, who have responded to being targeted for contraction by putting together a winning season atop the American League's Central Division. Baseball fans in Washington, D.C., were especially happy, since the league now cannot shut down the Montreal Expos, which was taken over by the league this year. Commissioner Bud Selig said Washington was the "leading candidate" for a relocated team once the labor turmoil was over.


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