Even though the twister tore through Kansas on Friday night, its devastation of the town of Greensburg, population 1,500, was so total that it qualified as Story of the Day three days later. All three networks led with the return of the townsfolk to the ruins of their homes.    
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video thumbnailABCTornado seasonResidents return to wreckage of Greensburg KsMike von FremdKansas
video thumbnailCBSMilitary reserves, National Guard call-up extendedHeavy equipment diverted to Iraq from statesDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailNBCSyria-Iraq relations assessedDamascus is infiltrated by Baathist militantsRichard EngelDamascus
video thumbnailNBCSyria-Iraq relations assessedPresident al-Assad denies support for insurgencyAnn CurryDamascus
video thumbnailCBSFrance elections: President Nicolas Sarkozy winsSubstantive issues overshadow gossip, scandalJeff GreenfieldNew York
video thumbnailABCMadagascar ecosystems, wildlife conservationPoverty, mining industry cause deforestationBill WeirMadagascar
video thumbnailCBSHoney bee swarms depleted by mystery deathsWild bumblebees may help pollinate orchardsJohn BlackstoneCalifornia
video thumbnailNBCHousehold garbage pollution: grocery bag dilemmaWhich is greener, disposable plastic or paper?Anne ThompsonNew York State
video thumbnailABC
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Billionaire Warren Buffett is legendary investorAdvertises for successor at Berkshire HathawayDan HarrisNew York
video thumbnailCBSBritish royals coverageQueen Elizabeth II attends White House dinnerMark PhillipsWashington DC
NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE Even though the twister tore through Kansas on Friday night, its devastation of the town of Greensburg, population 1,500, was so total that it qualified as Story of the Day three days later. All three networks led with the return of the townsfolk to the ruins of their homes.

CBS aired breathtaking stormchasing videotape from on its newscast that is not available on its site. Cynthia Bowers (no link) visited the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma City where she learned that this storm was strong enough to send "automobile-sized missiles flying in excess of a hundred yards." This was the strongest tornado on the great plains since 1999, one of 136 spawned by a single weather system. CBS' Hari Sreenivasan gave us the facts and figures: wind speeds topped 205 mph; the funnel was 1.7 miles wide; the storm category was F5, the highest classification; ten residents were killed; only six homes remained habitable.

NBC's Charles Hadlock obtained videotape of Main Street from last week so he could show the "small town on the prairie" before and after. He found the former centerpiece of the town's museum, a 1,000lb meteorite, deposited by the storm beneath rubble. His colleague Janet Shamlian interviewed the town's soda jerk. Richard Huckriede had worked the counter on Main Street for 55 years: "He realizes the last soda has been served." Next week the local high school plans to hold graduation ceremonies "even though the high school is in ruins," ABC's Mike von Fremd pointed out. "Rebuilding this town will take years."

CLEAN UP THIS MESS The foreign policy angle of the tornado was the lack of preparedness of the National Guard. Kansas has enough troops to help in the clean-up but half of its heavy equipment for debris removal--frontloaders, dumptrucks, flatbeds--has been sent to fight the war in Iraq. "The pace of recovery will be excruciatingly slow," ABC's Lisa Stark (subscription required) warned. "For now Kansas will rent, borrow, grab any truck it can." From the Pentagon, CBS' David Martin looked at the general state of the National Guard. Across all states, the average level of available equipment on the home front is 40%, with even the best-off state, Ohio, having only 65% of its required gear. "A national epidemic," is what Gen Steven Blum called it.

BAATH TIME NBC followed up on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's diplomacy with Syria last week in Egypt. Richard Engel looked into the Secretary's claims that Syria is the conduit for guerrillas and terrorists to enter Iraq. At official border crossings, Engel confirmed, "counterfeit passports are readily available on the black market" and it is easy to sneak across elsewhere since the line is often demarcated by nothing more than a berm.

As for Damascus itself, no entry visa is required for anyone from the Arab World and militants can "blend in among Iraqi refugees." Engel found support for Baathist anti-US sentiment--including a nightclub which features songs in praise of Saddam Hussein--but none for the al-Qaeda variety, which is "stirring sectarian tension." Ann Curry of NBC's Today sat down with President Bashar al-Assad, who insisted that he had deported 1,600 Lebanese al-Qaeda militants. She asked whether the government of Syria supports the insurgency against the government of Iraq: "This is a false allegation. This is devoid of logic. Again, how can I work against myself?" the president insisted.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY Nicolas Sarkozy has been elected the new President of France. CBS had Jeff Greenfield contrast French elections with those here. The contest was one of issues--unemployment, economic security, immigration, youth violence--rather than character. So personal issues such as Segolene Royal's children out of wedlock or Sarkozy's extra-marital affairs mattered little: "Extracurricular sex is almost part of a French politician's resume." Sunday's voter turnout, at 85%, was 30 percentage points higher than in Campaign 2004. Referring to NFL fans, Greenfield joked that "if we tried voting on a Sunday in November the turnout among men might be a bit thin."

GREEN GREENER GREENEST All three networks have been bitten by the environmental bug. CBS launched a series with a grandiose title Saving the World and a modest suggestion. John Blackstone followed up on his February report on the mysterious deaths of honey bee colonies with a possible ecological remedy. The Field of Dreams hypothesis, developed by the University of California at Berkeley, says that planting wild flowers can restore the bumblebee population, which will pollenate orchards naturally. "If you build it, will they come?" biologist Claire Kremen wondered.

ABC continued its Key to the World series, sending Bill Weir to Madagascar with its "bizarre canyons of spear tip limestone and surreal alleys of giant baobab trees." A combination of extreme poverty and exploitation by mining conglomerates is clearing forests and removing topsoil: "When it rains, erosion turns rivers the color of blood," he demonstrated. The government's solution is eco-tourism and it has set aside millions of acres for viewing of lemurs and chameleons and fossas: "Getting the people to come and getting their money to locals are much bigger challenges." Accordingly, Weir's pictures provided publicity for the island's tourist board: "Madagascar is like another planet."

From the sublime to the mundane, NBC continued its America Goes Green series with Anne Thompson's shopper's dilemma: plastic or paper? Plastic bags are harmful because they do not degrade, create solid waste and harm marine wildlife; paper bags because their manufacture causes more pollution. Environmentalists told her that "the best choice is cloth or canvas and BYOB--bring your own bag" when you go grocery shopping.

THE APPRENTICE ABC assigned Dan Harris (subscription required) to file a free Help Wanted ad on behalf of Berkshire Hathaway. Billionaire Warren Buffett is looking for a successor and he plans to "hire several people on a trial basis" giving them each $1bn to manage. The 700 applications Buffett has received so far include a four-year-old who impressed his father with his bedtime negotiating skills and a practitioner of yoga who points out that "mastery of your emotions" improves one's investing strategy. Harris quoted Buffett: "Anyone can manage $1bn. I need someone to manage $100bn."

MOTHER COUNTRY A second billionaire visited the White House. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II was invited to a state dinner of spring pea soup, sole almandine and saddle of spring lamb. All three networks noted President George Bush's slip. When he suggested that the queen found 1776 a cause for celebration--as opposed to its anniversary 200 years later-- NBC's Kelly O'Donnell was delighted: "The unexpected and not-so-perfect made this day grand." CBS' Mark Phillips noticed the royal "stern look" while ABC's Charles Gibson observed his response: "A president can still wink at a queen." Bush himself seemed to confuse Elizabeth with Barbara: "She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child."

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: Mount Etna continues its eruption in Sicily…the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating insider trading in the takeover bid for The Wall Street Journal…progress in pacifying the Iraqi city of Ramadi was undercut by a carbomb.