CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 26, 2006
Even though Saddam Hussein, the former dictator of Iraq, is on trial at the moment for war crimes against the Kurds, he will be dead before the end of next month. All three networks made his certain execution their lead. The Iraqi high court rejected his appeal against a death sentence for a separate massacre in the Shiite village of Dujail and ordered him to be hanged within 30 days.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 26, 2006: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCIraq: Saddam Hussein's Baath regime aftermathLoses death penalty appeal, has 30 days to liveRichard EngelBaghdad
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Iraq: Saddam Hussein's Baath regime aftermathLoses death penalty appeal, has 30 days to liveTerry McCarthyBaghdad
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesSenate hearings planned on troop build-up planThalia AssurasWashington DC
video thumbnailABCChristmas holiday seasonRetailers prepare for returns, sales, gift cardsGigi StoneNew York
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Indonesia earthquake causes killer tsunamiMany remain homeless two years after disasterNick WattLondon
video thumbnailNBCAnimal cloning in agriculture safety researchFDA sees no food risk from cloned meat, dairyTom CostelloMaryland
video thumbnailCBSMedicare program: prescription coverage benefitLow payments drive rural pharmacies bankruptWyatt AndrewsMississippi
video thumbnailNBCIllegal immigration increases, sparks backlashImpact of influx on rural Colorado surveyedTom BrokawColorado
video thumbnailCBSOpera outreach efforts by NYC's MetropolitanTry simulcasts, videostreams, ticket price cutsKatie CouricNew York
video thumbnailNBCSoul singer James Brown dies, aged 73ObituaryLester HoltNew York
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
SADDAM TO HANG Even though Saddam Hussein, the former dictator of Iraq, is on trial at the moment for war crimes against the Kurds, he will be dead before the end of next month. All three networks made his certain execution their lead. The Iraqi high court rejected his appeal against a death sentence for a separate massacre in the Shiite village of Dujail and ordered him to be hanged within 30 days.

"No one can pardon him," declared CBS' Randall Pinkston. "Even Saddam's lawyers admit it is over." Basim al-Husseini, an aide to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, told ABC's Terry McCarthy (subscription required) that a "surprising number of Iraqis" has petitioned his office to be appointed hangman--thousands of volunteers each month. McCarthy added that the execution will be videotaped and some portion of that tape will be broadcast.

NBC's Richard Engel followed that Death Row reporter's tradition of describing the looming death in morbid detail: "Saddam will be dressed in a green or orange jumpsuit. His hands will be bound. His feet will be chained together with only enough slack on the chain so that he can shuffle up the stairs of the steel gallows. He will be wearing a hood--as will the hangman. The hangman's hood, however, will have eye holes cut in it so that he can see the lever, releasing a trapdoor under Saddam's feet, dropping him to his death."

CBS and NBC followed up with the US military angle on Iraq. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell (at the tail of the Engel videostream) updated us on President Bush's war planning and CBS' Thalia Assuras previewed the Democrats' likely response. Sen Joe Biden opposes any reinforcement of US troops as "absolutely the wrong strategy" and has scheduled January hearings to drive that point home. Biden plans to run for President in 2008, Assuras added.


BOXING DAY The traditional storyline on the day after Christmas is the survey of the strength of holiday shopping. All three networks duly complied.

CNBC's Scott Cohn blamed warm weather and a weakening economy for a slower-than-expected end to the season. ABC's Gigi Stone focused on the year's hits: "Extreme Elmo may have fallen off shelves; Nintendo Wiis whizzed away; flat-screen TVs went flying--but overall consumers spent less than retailers expected." And CBS' Bill Whitaker previewed the prospects for continued post-Christmas action: exchanges of returned presents, the cashing-in of gift cards and sales of discounted unsold inventory.


ANNIVERSARY Christmas week does not always feature slow news. Just remember two years ago, when that Indian Ocean tsunami killed 230,000. ABC assigned London-based Nick Watt (subscription required) to take A Closer Look at Indonesia's Aceh province two years later. He quoted former President Bill Clinton's statistic that only 30% of survivors have moved from temporary shelters to permanent housing: "Aceh cannot absorb aid money any faster," Watt explained, because infrastructure was washed away. Few children and few women now live in coastal villages because they were the ones on land when the wave hit: "Most survivors were fishermen."


COPY, THEN EAT Future meat and dairy may come from livestock that has not been bred but cloned. An FDA panel has studied the food derived from cloned cattle, pigs and goats. NBC's Tom Costello previewed a report to be issued on Thursday that will not only declare such food to be safe but will also recommend against any labels that distinguish a bred source from a cloned one. Costello predicted that future controversy will focus on labels not safety.


DEADLINE LOOMS All year long CBS' Wyatt Andrews has made a specialty of covering the new prescription drug coverage offered by Medicare. Next week's deadline for new enrollees gave him the opportunity to turn to one more unintended side-effect of the new law: because Part D reimbursements favor national chains, small pharmacies are forced to sell out to the likes of Walgreens and Rite Aid. The Medical Arts Pharmacy in Columbus Miss, for example, is being driven bankrupt. "What Wal-Mart once did to rural downtowns, Medicare is doing to the local drugstore."


CRYSTAL SHADOWS Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw is reporting a two-hour primetime special, In The Shadow of the American Dream, on the impact of illegal immigration. NBC aired a two-minute promotional clip as part of its Whose America? series: he profiled an extended family of 18 illegal immigrants living in a four-bedroom home in Crystal River Colo and the town's kindergarten where all but two children have Spanish as their mother tongue. Anglo kids get to grow up bilingual.


OPERA AND SOUL Usually ABC is the favorite newscast for New York City's Metropolitan Opera, since the network is a neighbor to Lincoln Center. Earlier this month, for example, tenor Placido Domingo was ABC's Person of the Week (subscription required) as he rehearsed for its new production, The First Emperor. Now the Met switches to CBS, to publicize its outreach efforts to make opera less stuffy. Vacationing anchor Katie Couric pre-filed a report about Jumbotron broadcasts in Times Square, videostreams online, simulcasts in movie theaters and slashed ticket prices--weeknight orchestra ducats are now $20, down from $100. "What is next? La Boheme by George Lucas?" Couric asked. "We do not have that planned."

NBC's newscast was pre-empted yesterday so substitute anchor Lester Holt had to play catch up in order to pay tribute to James Brown. He quoted Brown's colleague Little Richard: "No James Brown--no disco, no hip-hop, no rap, and the type of rhythm-&-blues soul, you wouldn've had that…to me he had electric legs. He was an explosion on stage."


MENTIONED IN PASSING The network newscasts do not assign correspondents to all of the news of the day. If Tyndall Report readers come across videostreamed reports online of stories that were mentioned only in passing, post the link in comments for us to check out

Today's examples: in Cuba the ailing Fidel Castro was visited by a Spanish specialist…Lagos looters trying to siphon oil from a sabotaged Nigerian pipeline were killed when it exploded, some 260 are dead…Arnold Schwarzenegger breaks his leg while skiing.