That scary supergerm grabbed headlines for the second straight day. The tuberculosis patient suffering from the hard-to-treat infection with the science-fiction-style acronym is safely locked away in quarantine at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital. But his back-story--as told to Alison Young of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution--was enough to lead all three network newscasts, making TB the Story of the Day for the second straight day.     
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video thumbnailNBCTuberculosis: drug-resistant strain isolatedPatient traveled by air to his wedding in GreeceRobert BazellNew York
video thumbnailCBSTuberculosis: drug-resistant strain isolatedPatient faces year in hospital quarantineNancy CordesCleveland
video thumbnailABC
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AIDS: epidemic devastates sub-Saharan AfricaPresident Bush calls for $30bn more in aidMartha RaddatzWhite House
video thumbnailCBSIraq: political coalition government under firePM al-Maliki is on guard against military coupLara LoganBaghdad
video thumbnailABCIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesGen Petraeus cracks down on al-Anbar bombmakersTerry McCarthyBaghdad
video thumbnailNBCIraq: war refugees seek to emigrate to USFormer UN workers threatened, seek asylumAndrea MitchellState Department
video thumbnailABC
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2008 Fred Thompson campaignPlans to run as iconic, authentic conservativeJake TapperWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSTV reality gameshow in Holland offers kidney prizeCompetition features organ transplant patientsRichard RothLondon
video thumbnailNBCFine art masterpieces reproduced by hand in ChinaVillage of Dafen churns out cut-price canvassesMark MullenChina
video thumbnailABCApes trained in laboratory to use human languageRespond to English speech with lexigram iconsJohn BermanIowa
MY BIG INFECTED GREEK WEDDING That scary supergerm grabbed headlines for the second straight day. The tuberculosis patient suffering from the hard-to-treat infection with the science-fiction-style acronym is safely locked away in quarantine at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital. But his back-story--as told to Alison Young of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution--was enough to lead all three network newscasts, making TB the Story of the Day for the second straight day.

It turns out that the 32-year-old patient was determined to fly, despite his diagnosis, because he was getting married in Greece. He learned of the seriousness of his infection while on honeymoon in Rome. And he returned, eluding authorities, by way of Prague and Montreal, because he wanted to be treated back home. ABC's Steve Osunsami quoted what he told AJC's Young when the Centers for Disease Control put him on a no-fly list, flagged his passport and told him to check himself into a Roman hospital: "You are nuts. I was not going to do that." The CDC and Department of Homeland Security coordinated to pick him up at customs but because he had a round-trip ticket "all attention was focused on airports," NBC's Pete Williams reported. Instead, he entered from Canada by car: "The border agent should have spotted him but did not."

NBC's Robert Bazell used another of reporter Young's quotes: "I have cooperated with everything other than the solitary confinement in Italy thing." Instead he will face confinement for a year or so at the National Jewish Hospital, a specialist in TB treatment in Denver. CBS had Nancy Cordes showcase what hospital quarantine in respiratory isolation looks like: his room will have a separate ventilation system, monitoring by video cameras and "a door that locks on the outside, just in case." The XDR-TB strain is very rare, NBC's in-house physician Nancy Snyderman added, with only 49 cases since 1993. Presumably those are statistics for the United States, not worldwide, although Snyderman did not specify.

It turns out that our bridegroom "had no symptoms--no fever, no weakness, coughing or night sweats," according to CBS' Kelly Cobiella. She quoted the CDC that "the risk of infection to other passengers is extremely low" and even his new bride is not infected. XDR-TB is dangerous because it is hard to treat--or eXtensively Drug-Resistant--not because it is easy to spread, so the use of the word "virulent" to describe it by NBC anchor Brian Williams has a tinge of scaremongering. Virulent can mean "lethal" but it more often means "highly infectious." The crisis was a hypothetical one, ABC's Lisa Stark implicitly acknowledged, as she checked off the lag time for diagnosis and the lack of legal powers to stop the patient from jetting off to his wedding: "What if they are facing a patient with smallpox or SARS?"

AFROCENTRIC AIDS, of course, is a greater scourge than even a supergerm of TB as President George Bush showcased Africa outreach for the second straight day. Yesterday both ABC's Jim Sciutto (subscription required) and NBC's Ann Curry covered the President's proposals for Darfur. Today only ABC assigned a reporter to his plan for the next five years for fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa. NBC mentioned his $30bn funding proposal--double the amount for the previous five year period--in passing; CBS' substitute anchor Russ Mitchell did not mention it at all.

From the White House, Martha Raddatz (subscription required) illustrated how the funds for drug treatment had saved patients' lives with before-and-after photographs from the NGO Partners in Health. The President himself used the term Lazarus Effect to describe the revitalization of infected villages. Raddatz offered one quibble from "many AIDS experts:" prevention efforts have been a "glaring failure" of the program because too many of those funds are earmarked for sexual abstinence.

POLITICAL, MILITARY, DIPLOMATIC The three networks took the initiative and each departed from the routine war news of the day to file distinct features on the situation in Iraq. CBS looked at politics as Lara Logan obtained an Exclusive sitdown with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. "There is a real threat of a coup," he confessed to Logan, since the top ranks of his army have been filled with "so many officers who served under Saddam Hussein." The prime minister proclaimed: "No I am not afraid--but I have to watch the army."

ABC's Terry McCarthy traveled to al-Anbar Province to take A Closer Look at the military leadership of Gen David Petraeus. The general's primary mission is to establish security in Baghdad itself so he explained what he was doing out in the desert: "You have to get into the belts that surround Baghdad. That is where the carbomb factories are." Furthermore his briefers told him that each month at least 60 foreign fighters cross the al-Anbar desert from Syria: "You can do the math. That is a substantial number of sensational attacks."

NBC examined the continuing failure of the State Department to provide political asylum for war refugees whose lives were threatened after working for the United Nations or the United States in Baghdad. In the four years since the fall of Baghdad, Andrea Mitchell pointed out, the US has granted 535 visas compared with 18,000 last year alone by European nations. "So far," she stated, screening applicants to eliminate potential terrorists "is a higher priority than providing safe haven."

THOMPSON’S NEW ROLE Actor Fred Thompson's screen credits make him an easy Presidential candidate to cover in a television news story. Sure enough, when the former Tennessee senator announced that he would formally begin fundraising for a run for the Republican nomination, ABC's Jake Tapper (subscription required) strung together a Law & Order TV clip with movie clips from Die Hard 2 and In the Line of Fire before the inevitable line: "Playing a President is a lot easier than being one." Tapper ticked off a trio of Thompson weaknesses: a lackluster legislative record, policy positions on campaign finance and abortion that buck conservative orthodoxy, a non-acting career as an inside-the-Beltway lobbyist.

Thompson's strength, ABC's in-house political analyst Mark Halperin suggested, is that rivals John McCain, Mitt Romney and Rudolph Giuliani "have problems with the conservatives." And NBC's Tim Russert elaborated on how Thompson might match up: he might attract Giuliani supporters "more comfortable with his conservative credentials;" he might split the McCain base because he supported McCain in 2000; he might undercut Romney because "Romney looks less conservative." Russert summed up all that spin: "Every campaign believes they have an interest in the Thompson entry."

THE BIG KIDNEY "Even the broadcaster admits the concept is offensive." CBS' Richard Roth was describing the latest reality gameshow from Holland's BNN-TV, the network that invented the Big Brother franchise, which is aired in the United States by CBS. de Grote Donor Show features a terminally-ill 37-year-old woman choosing which of the three contestants, each suffering from kidney disease, will receive her organ in a transplant. The founder of BNN-TV was an entertainer "famous for ratings stunts" who died of kidney failure five years ago. "The station says the program is a tribute"--but Roth did not elucidate whether it was a tribute to his illness or to his stunts.

PAINTING BY NUMBERS China is a country that is "taking knockoffs to an art form," declared NBC's Mark Mullen as he traveled to the village of Dafen near Hong Kong. It is home to 8,000 artists who paint canvasses each year worth $35m. Almost all are handmade copies of fine art masterpieces: a Pablo Picasso portrait for $95, a Mona Lisa for $50, a Sunflowers for $25. Using production line techniques "artists paint only their specialty on part of a canvas--a flower petal, landscape or abstract--before it moves on to the next artist to fill in his portion." Mullen called the end result "masterpieces for the masses."

FAREWELL WHALES, HELLO APES Both ABC and CBS closed their newscasts with animal stories. For CBS, finally, it was the end of the "18-day circus" as Sandra Hughes put it. The pair of humpback whales whose every blow and tail thrash had been so lovingly documented "made a quiet exit through the Golden Gate into the open ocean sometime overnight." So there was no triumphant money shot of their spouts signaling survival: "It looks like they gave us the slip," shrugged NBC's George Lewis.

True to form, ABC did not consider the whales newsworthy enough to warrant a reporter. Instead John Berman was sent to the Great Ape Trust laboratory in Des Moines Iowa where primatologists are in dialogue with ten of our animal cousins. Humans use speech and apes respond by tapping on a keyboard of 350 lexigrams, symbols that represent thoughts or objects. "You are the first ape that I have ever interviewed," Berman confessed to Kanzi the bonobo.

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: on Wall Street, the S&P 500 index finally returned to its levels of the spring of 2000, closing at an all-time high…a US-Russia summit between Vladimir Putin and George Bush is scheduled for Maine in July…Microsoft unveiled its Surface computer, formatted as a tabletop instead of a laptop..a USArmy Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan's Helmand Province, killing all seven on board.