It was no surprise but it was treated as news anyway. Congressional Democrats formally signed the bill to continue funding the war in Iraq and President George Bush formally vetoed the $124bn because it included a time limit for the war to end. ABC and NBC both led with the Story of the Day of the ritual exchange of signatures. CBS chose the nationwide rallies in support of immigrants living here illegally.    
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video thumbnailABCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesPresident Bush formally vetoes funding billJake TapperWhite House
video thumbnailNBCIraq: terrorist bombers attack civilian targetsSuspected leader al-Masri may be slain by rivalsRichard EngelBaghdad
video thumbnailABCCuba politics: Fidel Castro is in ailing healthFails to attend Havana's May Day paradeBob WoodruffHavana
video thumbnailCBSIllegal immigration increases, sparks backlashRallies for legalization smaller than last yearBill WhitakerLos Angeles
video thumbnailCBSIllegal immigration increases, sparks backlashDeported parents separated from citizen childrenSandra HughesSan Diego
video thumbnailABC
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Food supply safety, poisoning prevention measuresFDA to monitor quality of imports from ChinaLisa StarkWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCFood supply safety, poisoning prevention measuresFDA inspection resources swamped by importsTom CostelloWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCWall Street Journal takeover bid by Rupert MurdochFamily owners of Dow Jones reject offerDavid FaberNew York
video thumbnailCBSInternet hardcore pornography proliferatesBorn-again Christians urge sex-obsessed to quitDaniel SiebergIndiana
video thumbnailCBSIran society regulated by strict Islamic codeWomen watch color, hemline, fit dress-code rulesElizabeth PalmerTeheran
VETO ACCOMPLISHED It was no surprise but it was treated as news anyway. Congressional Democrats formally signed the bill to continue funding the war in Iraq and President George Bush formally vetoed the $124bn because it included a time limit for the war to end. ABC and NBC both led with the Story of the Day of the ritual exchange of signatures. CBS chose the nationwide rallies in support of immigrants living here illegally.

The President issued his veto, in an attempt to insure that combat operations can continue indefinitely, precisely four years to the day after his famous photo-op on the USS Abraham Lincoln to announce that major combat operations had ended. All three networks could not resist rerunning that aircraft carrier footage. ABC's Jake Tapper called it "the most spectacular and, perhaps, notorious photo-op" of Bush's Presidency. That speech is "a favorite for critics trying to illustrate a President who misjudged Iraq from the outset," remarked CBS' Jim Axelrod. Bush had made his announcement "prematurely," NBC's David Gregory understated.

CBS not only chose not to lead with the veto, it also decided not to follow up with political analysis about what Congress will do in response, given the universal expectation that the veto will be upheld. NBC and ABC both consulted their Sunday morning anchors. George Stephanopoulos of ABC's This Week outlined a three-way split among Democrats: those who want to send the same vetoed bill back he dubbed "no retreat, no surrender;" those who propose acceding to the President's no-strings request, "live to fight another day;" those who propose doling out funds in quarterly tranches, "several bites at the apple." Tim Russert (at the tail of the Gregory videostream) of NBC's Meet the Press saw prospects of an "interesting" bipartisan Congressional compromise: both parties may agree on a set of benchmarks to hold the government of Iraq accountable for meeting "promises and commitments."

Only NBC filed from Iraq itself. Richard Engel covered confusing reports in Baghdad about the fate of Egyptian-born abu-Ayyub al-Masri, the reputed leader of al-Qaeda militants in Iraq. He may have been killed in a three-way feud in Taji involving tribal leaders, anti-US insurgent forces and al-Qaeda adherents. Even if al-Masri is dead, Engel was confident that it would not put an end to the terrorist suicide carbombs that are al-Qaeda's hallmark.

CASTRO NO SHOW The May Day parade in Havana was smaller than usual as Fidel Castro, the leader of Cuba's Communist revolution, failed to attend for the first time in 40 years. All three networks had reporters on the scene to check on his health. ABC's Bob Woodruff timed this year's keynote address at just seven minutes compared with Castro's three-hour speech just one year ago. "His absence is hardly a shock to a nation that already seems to be getting by without him," observed CBS' Lara Logan: the economy is healthy, boosted by investment from China and Venezuela, yet problems in housing, food and transportation persist. Even if Castro does return to power, NBC's Andrea Mitchell reported, unnamed Cuban officials told her it could be in a "vastly reduced role." With no successor to match Fidel's dynamism, "the Castro Era is really in effect over and nothing here will ever be truly the same."

RETURN TO SENDER The parades in this country for May Day were a repeat of protests in favor of amnesty, legalization and citizenship for some 12m immigrants at work in this country without permits--but "smaller than last year's," noted NBC's George Lewis. CBS led with Bill Whitaker who explained that their fervor declined after the failure of legislation to make illegal entry a felony. Yet Whitaker reckoned that prospects are slim for an opposite measure, a law that would offer that "pathway to citizenship" for those here illegally. ABC mentioned the protests only in passing.

CBS followed up with Sandra Hughes at the fence along the California-Mexico border. To dramatize the consequences of the drive by Immigration & Customs Enforcement--dubbed Operation Return to Sender--that has deported 24,000 residents with expired visas in the past year, Hughes showed us the separated lives of the Munoz family: weekdays three siblings, all native-born citizens of the United States, live at an aunt's house and attend school in San Diego; weekends they stay with their deported parents in a one-room slum apartment in Tijuana.

FOOD CHAIN REACTION Yesterday, we noted (text link) that CBS had taken the lead on the food safety story--a Tyndall Search shows that of the 13 food stories filed during the month of April, eight were on CBS.

So now NBC and ABC have a chance to catch up. The immediate concerns are about adulterated vegetable proteins imported from China, where the fertilizer melamine has been added during processing to fake the food's richness. The New York Times' Shanghai-based David Barboza told ABC's Lisa Stark (subscription required) that the practice is "very widespread." She worried that spiked glutens may be in breads, baked goods, pasta and granola bars. NBC's Tom Costello reported that spiked feed has been consumed by pigs in six states and by poultry in Indiana. Some 3m of those chickens may already have been eaten by humans.

For the wider picture, both reporters looked at the Food & Drug Administration's safety procedures. Costello covered Congressional hearings into the FDA's lack of inspectors. Stark took A Closer Look at the need for enhanced FDA testing of all sorts of food imports from China, whose volume has doubled since 2002, "everything from vegetables to candy." The FDA now relies on inspection by the exporting country. "That is a recipe for disaster," Stark concluded with a corny pun and the lazy qualifier "some say."

FOX MEANS BUSINESS All three networks mentioned the $5bn takeover bid by media mogul Rupert Murdoch for The Wall Street Journal and the rest of the Dow Jones business. It was no surprise that NBC should be the only one to assign a reporter to the story since the deal, if consummated, would pose a direct challenge to CNBC, its cable business channel. Murdoch has already announced plans to launch Fox Business Channel as CNBC's rival. He wants to add "the most important name in business" to his stable, CNBC's David Faber reported. So far, Murdoch has been rebuffed by the Bancroft family, which has had a controling stake in Dow Jones since 1902, but "that does not mean the story ends here."

TALL STACK Caught in the Web is the title of Daniel Sieberg's series for CBS about the perils of obsessive Internet activity. Yesterday, Sieberg warned us about spending too much time playing interactive videogames online: an Arkansas marriage ended in divorce because Final Fantasy replaced intimacy. Now, Sieberg warns that too much pornography is bad for us too. Sieberg profiled Mark Searles, a thirtysomething former porn devotee, who kept his surfing for "several hours at a time" secret from his wife. Searles explained that staying away from X-rated sites now makes him feel "clean" and no longer "humble" in front of his nine-year-old son.

As an antidote Sieberg suggests run by Craig Gross, an Indiana preacher who conducts his born-again anti-smut crusade--we kid you not--by serving breakfast pancakes for porn-hooked men and their teenage sons.

TEHERAN VOGUE While Christians are trying to keep men away from pictures of naked ladies in Indiana, Moslems in Teheran are trying to prevent women from showing too much leg: open-toed sandals are banned, as is visible nail polish. CBS' Elizabeth Palmer went clothes shopping with a group of Iranian women to illustrate just what, precisely, are this season's fashion faux pas--"bright colors disappear and hemlines drop"--in the eyes of the religious police. Palmer confessed that "as a western reporter in Iran I had to play it safe wearing the most basic of black models." She asked her fellow shopper: "You would never wear this?" "No. Never and ever. Oh my God. Sorry this is ugly."

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: political clashes in Turkey pit secularists against Islamists…latest measurements show that the melting of the Arctic Ocean ice cap is accelerating…the day after police high speed pursuits were permitted by the Supreme Court, a school bus in New York City was knocked over by a chasing cruiser…TV sitcom actor Tom Poston died, aged 85.