Minor developments concerning three different aspects of the Iraq conflict combined to make the war the inconsequential Story of the Day on a very light day of news. ABC and NBC both led from Baghdad: ABC with attacks on the governmental Green Zone, NBC with the trio of missing GIs in the so-called Triangle of Death. CBS did not assign a correspondent to the war, although the network reported from London on the British Army's decision not to send Prince Harry to fight there. Instead CBS led with a crisis in FEMA's emergency housing trailers.    
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video thumbnailNBCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesGen Petraeus on missing GIs, Baghdad securityIan WilliamsBaghdad
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Iraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesIncreasing support for troops out in SenateJake TapperCapitol Hill
video thumbnailNBCBritish royals coverageArmy decides not to send Prince Harry to IraqKeith MillerLondon
video thumbnailNBCPalestine politics: Hamas-Fatah factional fightingCeasefires fail to hold in Gaza StripMartin FletcherGaza
video thumbnailABCSudan civil war: ethnic cleansing in DarfurOil trade influences PRC to oppose UN roleJim SciuttoKhartoum
video thumbnailCBS2008 Presidential race Republican field overviewHighlights of FOX News debate in Columbia SCJeff GreenfieldNew York
video thumbnailABCAbortion: restrictions debated in many statesPro-lifers motivated by Supreme Court rulingJan Crawford GreenburgAlabama
video thumbnailCBSFEMA housing trailers have toxic indoor airFormaldehyde fumes sicken New Orleans evacueesArmen KeteyianMississippi
video thumbnailCBSWar on Drugs: teenage prescription medicine abuseSenate hearings into unregulated online salesWyatt AndrewsCapitol Hill
video thumbnailCBSCellular telephone extras: ringtones, wallpaperMarketers target teens with easy-to-add feesRichard SchlesingerMaryland
DIVERTED FROM THE GREEN ZONE Minor developments concerning three different aspects of the Iraq conflict combined to make the war the inconsequential Story of the Day on a very light day of news. ABC and NBC both led from Baghdad: ABC with attacks on the governmental Green Zone, NBC with the trio of missing GIs in the so-called Triangle of Death. CBS did not assign a correspondent to the war, although the network reported from London on the British Army's decision not to send Prince Harry to fight there. Instead CBS led with a crisis in FEMA's emergency housing trailers.

The US military offered a reward of $200,000 for information on its missing men and 4,000 continue to be "diverted," as NBC' Ian Williams put it, in their search of villages around Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad. Williams asked Gen David Petraeus about his operational assumptions: "We believe they are still alive." Back in Baghdad, ABC's Terry McCarthy reported on the concerns of Americans living in the Green Zone about "the increasing frequency and accuracy" of mortar attacks from nearby civilian neighborhoods. Many sleep in trailers with soft roofs. Staff at the US Embassy has been told "to wear flak jackets and helmets when walking outside."

Back in Washington, the US Senate defeated a proposal to withdraw all US troops from Iraq by next spring. What ABC's Jake Tapper (subscription required) found newsworthy in the vote was that "what was considered radical just a few months ago" is now "mainstream Democratic thought." A majority of the party's caucus supported the pullout plan and "once-cautious Democrats are now trying to outflank one another on the anti-war left." Neither CBS nor NBC mentioned the vote.

British military authorities announced that second lieutenant Harry would be such an inviting target for anti-occupation forces in Basra that his mere presence would expose his comrades in arms to unacceptable dangers. NBC's Keith Miller noted politely that the decision had been reached after "several weeks of internal debate;" CBS' Mark Phillips called it "months of go-no-go dithering." Mused Phillips: "Killing or capturing a prince might have been a huge insurgent propaganda victory" but on the other hand "a prince not going to war at all is a victory in its own right."

NBC's Miller reported that there is a debate in London over whether "there is special treatment for royalty." Well, of course there is.

FACTIONAL FIGHTING Only NBC sent a reporter to the Gaza Strip where Martin Fletcher found "anarchy" as the unity government of Palestinian is "falling apart." Factional fighting between Hamas, loyal to the prime minister, and Fatah, loyal to the president, has killed at least 40 in three days. Fletcher reported that one of Hamas' tactics to halt the fighting is to shell a border village in Israel, hoping "to provoke Israel into retaliating" thereby uniting Fatah and Hamas in a joint defense. Instead "Israel decided to step up assassinations of Hamas militants." When Hamas called for a ceasefire with Fatah, it was "the fourth in four days--it lasted 24 minutes." ABC showed voiceover-videotape from Gaza; CBS did not mention it.

KHARTOUM BOOM On Monday, ABC's Jim Sciutto (subscription required) reported from Darfur on the failure of African Union observers to halt the fighting there. Next he traveled to Khartoum to inquire why the United Nations has not deployed a peacekeeping force. His answer: "Beijing has blocked efforts to send UN peacekeepers there without Sudanese consent." And why would China be Sudan's champion? Oil.

Sciutto showed us the consequences of the Sudan-PRC oil trade, accounting for two-thirds of the African nation's production: dirt roads have been paved; outdoor markets are rebuilt as shopping malls; a bridge will replace ferries across the River Nile; upwardly mobile students take Mandarin lessons. "Many in Sudan's booming capital forget the suffering of Darfur," Sciutto stated, while Beijing is accused of being "complicit in Sudan's genocide."

What can overcome the lure of oil and possibly change China's mind? "The threat of a possible boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games."

THE QUIET MAN The Republican Presidential candidates met in Columbia SC for a debate organized by cable TV's FOX News Channel. CBS and NBC narrated the highlight reel. NBC's Andrea Mitchell noted "the missing man from the crowded stage" as President George Bush was "barely mentioned in the entire 90-minute debate." CBS' Jeff Greenfield identified the legacy Jerry Falwell, who died just hours before it started, as the "theme of the night." Falwell had helped to organize Christian conservatives as a "critical element of the Republican coalition--again and again candidates spoke to that base appealing for their support."

Greenfield singled out Rudolph Giuliani's pitch, which downplayed the importance of their real differences. He paraphrased Giuliani's "not-so-subtle message" about Democratic frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton: "Whatever our disagreements you need me to beat your real enemy." By the way, Rodham Clinton was raised at the end of anchor Brian Williams' interview with her husband, the former President and would-be First Husband, on NBC. Bill Clinton had been advocating green architecture to conserve energy when Williams asked about his role in his wife's campaign. Healthcare…the economy…climate change…foreign policy…"we talk about the big issues a lot…as we have all of our lives but I am not very much involved in the day-to-day operations of the campaign."

For light-hearted campaign fare, CBS closed with a trip to greenest rural Ireland where the Rev Stephen Neill, canon of the village of Moneygall, claims it was the home of an ancestor of candidate Barack Obama, on his mother's side, six generations ago. "I have been calling him Abracadabra because I did not know how to pronounce his name," confessed one parishioner. "Well, he does not look Irish," Richard Roth inquired of the rector. "No. That is not the first thing that you think--is it?--when you see him." Roth concluded cornily with a montage of village signage--O'Donovan's, O'Connor's, O'Hara--"Obama is a name that would fit right in."

GALVANIZED ABC did not cover the Republicans' debate but it did assign Jan Crawford Greenburg to take A Closer Look at abortion, one of the key issues for that GOP base. In the wake of last month's Supreme Court decision upholding the ban on abortions performed by the so-called partial birth procedure, restrictive legislation is being debated in 15 states, such as imposing waiting periods on women seeking abortions, or requiring pregnant teenagers to obtain parental consent, or ordering clinics to offer ultrasound images of the fetus before terminating it.

The Supreme Court ruling has "galvanized activists on both sides," Crawford Greenburg pointed out. Pro-life Alabama and Missouri are debating outright bans on all abortions if the Supreme Court were to reverse Roe v Wade, which guarantees a pregnant woman the right to choose one. Meanwhile, New York and Rhode Island may now join seven other pro-choice states--California, Washington, Nevada, Hawaii, Maryland, Connecticut, Maine--in preserving the abortion option regardless, even if it is not protected by future Supreme Court decisions.

TOXIC TRAILERS The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is usually NBC's preserve. Not today. CBS led its newscast with Armen Keteyian's Investigation into the toxic living conditions of the 86,000 evacuated families still living in FEMA emergency housing trailers 21 months later. The trailers, quipped Keteyian, are "meant for weekend trips." He found children suffering from "coughing, burning eyes, nosebleeds, sinus infections." He suspected that formaldehyde in the particleboard used by Gulf Stream Coach of Indiana to make the trailer's floors and cabinets was the culprit: "Under hot, humid conditions," Keteyian reported from a Mississippi trailer park, "formaldehyde lets off toxic fumes, especially harmful to young lungs." He quoted FEMA's safety recommendation: "Open the windows and turn on the air conditioner."

Why are so many evacuees still in emergency shelter rather than rebuilt housing? CBS' Sharyl Attkisson obtained a Government Accountability Office report on how the $110bn allocated by Congress has been spent: "Less than $20bn has gone to replace buildings like homes, schools and hospitals. Most of the money was spent on emergency needs." Of the 136,000 who have applied for grants or loans to return home, "fewer than 17,000 have gotten any money."

WHAT A WORRY It must be a non-stop worry being a parent of a teenager. CBS suggested two more nagging reasons in just one newscast. Wyatt Andrews was assigned to cover the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings into online pharmacies that offer controlled medicines for sale without a prescription. Even though people of all ages can abuse unprescribed narcotics like OxyContin, Andrews' anchor Katie Couric was certain which demographic was at special risk: "Teens and Drugs" was her label for the story. CBS was not alone in its youth focus. ABC's Lisa Stark, too, dramatized the risk of buying drugs from these sites with the example of a 17-year-old boy's Vicodin overdose. A 60-year-old's prescription-avoiding Viagra apparently provokes much less anxiety.

Next CBS turned to teens and cell phones in its Gotta Have It series. The danger here is the appeal of the array of extra downloads--ringtones and jokes and games and wallpaper--"all sorts of stuff kids might think is free," Richard Schlesinger warned parents. Children with telephones can subscribe without payment or charge, since the fee is payable by the grown up, after the fact, when the monthly phone bill arrives. That worry proved a godsend for the publicity department of one telephone company. Schlesinger offered this free plug for Kajeet: it is a "pay-as-you-go service, meaning kids can only spend what their parents approve of--and pay for--ahead of time." Remember that name. Kajeet.

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: South Carolina may allow the contrary of firearms control--permitting concealed weapons to be carried in classrooms… Martin Luther King's daughter, also a civil rights activist, Yolanda King has been found dead at age 51…Tony Blair makes his final diplomatic trip to Washington before he resigns as Prime Minister of Britain.