Detroit's Big Three automobile manufacturers are all American once more. After nine years of ownership by the German makers of Mercedes Benz, Chrysler, the smallest of the three, has been sold and privatized. Last year Chrysler recorded almost $1.5bn in losses and laid off 13,000 workers. All three networks led with the DaimlerChrysler deal, making it the Story of the Day.    
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video thumbnailNBCAutomobile industry in financial troubleDaimlerChrysler merger fails, sold off for $7bnPhilip LeBeauChicago
video thumbnailCBSAutomobile industry in financial troubleDetroit hampered by high legacy labor costsNancy CordesWashington DC
video thumbnailABCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesSearch for trio of captured GIs near YusufiyahTerry McCarthyBaghdad
video thumbnailCBSIraq: post-war reconstruction effortsGAO finds oil corruption, electricity failuresSharyl AttkissonCapitol Hill
video thumbnailABCAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingGuerrilla leader Mullah Dadullah slainBrian RossNew York
video thumbnailNBCAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fightingBacklash against US-caused civilian casualtiesJim MacedaKabul
video thumbnailABC
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Sudan civil war: ethnic cleansing in DarfurAfrican Union peace troops face feuding factionsJim SciuttoDarfur
video thumbnailABCBreast cancer coverageIncidence of mammogram screening is in declineJohn McKenzieNew York
video thumbnailNBCHigh-technology innovations over next decadeLikely changes in biometrics, personal financeTom CostelloVirginia
video thumbnailCBSChildren targeted by consumer product marketersEntertainment icons drive demand for brandsKatie CouricNew York
DETROIT GOES ALL AMERICAN Detroit's Big Three automobile manufacturers are all American once more. After nine years of ownership by the German makers of Mercedes Benz, Chrysler, the smallest of the three, has been sold and privatized. Last year Chrysler recorded almost $1.5bn in losses and laid off 13,000 workers. All three networks led with the DaimlerChrysler deal, making it the Story of the Day.

In retrospect the merger looks like a catastrophe for the Germans. Daimler-Benz purchased Chrysler for $36bn and got rid of 80% of it for a mere $7bn. "Daimler was ready to pay any price for a divorce," was how CBS' Anthony Mason put it. He asked Chrysler's onetime boss and TV pitchman Lee Iacocca his assessment of the merger: "A fiasco." ABC's Dean Reynolds (subscription required), like Mason, at first used the marital metaphor to describe the Detroit-Stuttgart union, but mixed it with incest when he referred to Chrysler as Daimler's "ailing stepbrother."

NBC had Philip LeBeau, CNBC's auto industry expert, explain how Cerberus, the new owner, operates: private equity firms "do not have to answer to public shareholders," he explained. "They have a track record of being aggressive with their investments…sometimes even breaking them up." As for Chrysler's workers, ABC's Reynolds reported that the autoworkers' union had pushed for Chrysler to stay part of Daimler but had finally relented: "What choice did they really have?"

The price of labor bedevils all of Detroit, CBS' Nancy Cordes generalized: so-called legacy costs for pensions, healthcare and buyouts add $1,360 to the price of each Big Three automobile compared with less than $100 for each Toyota. That is why General Motors was "once nicknamed Generous Motors." Cordes predicted that Cerberus, like Ford and GM, would oblige Chrysler workers to take a cut in benefits. Otherwise "they will be forced to move more or all of their production overseas. They would be American cars in name only."

MISSING TRIO IN TRIANGLE OF DEATH All three networks had their Baghdad correspondents file on the deployment of 4,000 US troops--"as well as dog teams, helicopters, drones and satellite surveillance," as ABC's Terry McCarthy pointed out--in search of three soldiers who were taken prisoner after an ambush near Yusufiyah on Saturday. Such an enormous search some 20 miles south of Baghdad "comes at a particularly bad time" for the US military, McCarthy observed, just as it is trying to focus on the "complex and highly risky strategy" of making the capital secure.

Both ABC, with its Virtual View, and CBS with its News Animation used computer graphics to depict the pre-dawn ambush in which the three were captured and their five comrades killed. NBC's Ian Williams reported on the online claim by the Islamic State of Iraq that it was avenging the rape-murder of a 14-year-old girl last year and the killing of her family by US soldiers in the same rural area, the so-called Triangle of Death.

To repeat a Tyndall Report pet peeve, CBS anchor Katie Couric should not have referred to the incident as "soldiers kidnapped by terrorists." Terrorism is defined as attacks on civilians; attacking soldiers thus is guerrilla warfare. To their credit none of the Baghdad correspondents called the ambushers "terrorists" although CBS' Mark Strassmann did refer to the capture in Couric's terminology as a "kidnapping," which is surely not accurate for the act of taking soldiers prisoner on the battlefield.

Back on Capitol Hill, CBS' Sharyl Attkisson got hold of a Government Accountability Office report on Iraq's oil and electricity sectors. The electricity supply is getting worse despite a $5bn investment by the United States: in 2006, half the electric needs of Iraq were met; in the past three months power has been supplied to Baghdad for only nine hours a day and to the rest of the country only five. As for oil, between 100K and 300K of the 2m barrels of crude pumped each day is "vanishing" due to "corruption, smuggling and other illicit activities." Later at the refinery, a further 30% of fuels "are being diverted to the black market or smuggled out of Iraq."

CAMERA HOG The guerrilla war waged by the Taliban in Afghanistan suffered a military setback and made political gains. The gains were covered by NBC's Jim Maceda in Kabul. A recent spate of bombing and shootings by US troops has killed 130 civilians in just three months: "Afghan patience is wearing so thin that some lawmakers just voted for the end of all US military operations here and are calling for peace talks with the Taliban." The setback was the death of Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's 41-year-old operational commander, killed in his hiding place in Helmand Province. Just three days earlier he had recorded a propaganda videotape that was obtained by the anti-jihadist NEFA Foundation and handed to ABC's Brian Ross. Ross' unnamed sources told him that US forces tracked Dadullah from Pakistan to the interview location: "His eagerness to be on camera…helped lead to his downfall."

DEGENERATING ABC sent Jim Sciutto (subscription required) to Darfur for A Closer Look at Sudan's continuing civil war. He found the situation worse than ever--"degenerating into a confusing free-for-all." He counted 14 different rebel factions fighting with the janjaweed militias on the ground and targeted from the air by government planes. When he broached the prospect of replacing the ineffectual and outnumbered 7,000-strong observer force of the African Union with a military mandate for United Nations peacekeepers, Yosuf Kibir, the Governor of Darfur replied: "We do not want a foreign occupation like Iraq. Darfur is peaceful." Sciutto called the governor's claim "outrageous."

NOT A GREAT BUSINESS Why are fewer women getting mammogram screening for breast cancer than in 2000? Nationwide among women over the age of 40 there are now three million fewer performed. Are women getting complacent? A pair of in-house physicians, Jon LaPook at CBS and Nancy Snyderman (at the end of her The Year 2017 videostream) at NBC suggested that. Are more women uninsured? ABC's John McKenzie and NBC's Snyderman mentioned that. Are there fewer clinics offering the service? CBS' LaPook and ABC's McKenzie thought so. "Hundreds of mammogram centers have been forced to shut down," McKenzie reported, because the test is not profitable. "It is not a great business for radiologists," shrugged LaPook.

FUTURE SHOCK NBC sold its commercial time to a sole sponsor--Pfizer advertised Celebrex--so it was able to increase its newshole by four minutes. It used the extra time for futurism: a three-part look at The Year 2017 focusing on urban planning, healthcare and biometrics. Tom Costello predicted that scans of our fingerprints and our eyes will be so precise that they will activate everything from security clearances to door locks to financial transactions and customize consumer choices for us. Nancy Snyderman whirled us through future medicine: what diseases will be cured; how we will be diagnosed; how surgery will be performed; how stem cells will regenerate us. Jennifer London predicted that the cities of the next decade will be built around the retirement needs of babyboomers: suburbs will be out of favor and pedestrianized mixed-use downtowns will be all the rage.

SALES FORCE What do these six things have in common? Child Obesity. Eating Disorders. Precocious Irresponsible Sex. Youth Violence. Underage Drinking. Underage Smoking?

Whew. According to psychologist Susan Linn of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood they are all behaviors that tend to increase following childhood exposure to consumer marketing and advertising campaigns--that is in addition to the obvious behavior of buying stuff. That was what Linn told CBS' Katie Couric as Couric kicked off a feature series dubbed Gotta Have It on the hard-sell marketing techniques corporations direct at children.

Couric gave free publicity to the book Buy, Buy Baby in which author Susan Gregory Thomas argued that the consequence of TV for toddlers relying so heavily on easily recognizable characters--like Dora the Explorer or Sesame Street's Elmo or Teletubbies' Po--is that the next time children encounter them "is in a scenario in which that character is trying to sell them something--backpacks, Bandaids, toothbrushes."

Dr Linn's special ire was directed at the Department of Health and Human Services for teaming up with DreamWorks to use Shrek to publicize its anti-couch-potato campaign. Having made Shrek seem salubrious, Couric explained, DreamWorks proceeded to sell tie-ins to 70 packaged foods "some healthy, some junk." The punch line was a clip from Comedy Central's The Colbert Report: "That is why Shrek gets an additional tip of my hat for finding other ways to spread his message of health through joint ventures with Snickers, Pop-Tarts, Skittles, Cheetos."

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: the paddleboat cruise liner Empress of the North ran aground off Juneau in Alaska…winds have picked up in Florida hampering firefighting efforts…President George Bush signed an executive order to improve automobile fuel efficiency.