COMMENTS: Little News from Abroad

No, the networks did not decide to have a reporter update us from Zimbabwe. Nor did they file from President George Bush on his NATO trip. Nor did they assign a correspondent to examine environmental short cuts to secure the Mexican border. The only foreign story to be filed on any of the three newscasts was the fluffy closer on each.

NBC's rueful Jim Maceda told us about London's Heathrow Airport and its newly opened Terminal Five that opened "in full glory" after 20 years of planning and building. "The state of the art baggage system crashed only hours into opening day." About 20,000 pieces were lost and more than 300 flights were canceled. Maceda got his bag back four days later.

CBS' Richard Roth was on critter watch in the English countryside. The cottage belonging to John and Margie Histed suffers repeated floods because they are prohibited from unblocking a draining ditch. The ditch may be a spawning spot for a colony of the ancient endangered amphibian, the great crested newt. "A possible newt habitat is taking precedence over a human habitat 300 years old! Does it make sense?" Histed protested. Replied Roth: "Well, the newts were here first."

Another old species is the Caribbean reef squid, about 50m years old. ABC's Robert Krulwich found videotape from marine biologist Roger Hanlon of the squid's mating ritual. See the two-faced male send mixed messages--one white, one rose brown--and then "totally switch colors on a dime."


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