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The Top 5 news stories as measured by coverage in The Washington Post, USA Today, and NBC Nightly News from Nov. 6 to 12

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Scoring system: 5 points for news stories appearing on the front page of The Washington Post, 3 for stories on the next two pages of the "A" section, and 1 thereafter. Same formula for USA Today, except the values are doubled to account for its national circulation. Stories carried on NBC Nightly News receive 10 points if they run before the first ad break, 6 between the first and second break, and 2 thereafter. Anchor-read stories earn 2 points early, 1 point late.


cleaning house

270 Points | Change began to bubble up from the sour stomachs of Democrats on Capitol Hill. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt greeted a loss of seats by resigning from the leadership. The minority whip, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco liberal with a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 2 percent, quickly emerged as the leading candidate to replace him. She released a list of 111 members she said would vote for her, causing Rep. Martin Frost to abort his short-lived race for the party leader's post. Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.) jumped into the race, but Rep. Pelosi cruised to victory. The leadership moves were more peaceful on the Republican side, with Rep. Tom DeLay stepping up to the majority leader's position to replace the retiring Dick Armey. Rep. Mel Blunt of Missouri is widely expected to step into the whip's post. Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, who successfully led the GOP House gains with the National Republican Congressional Committee, expects to assume the chairman's seat at the House Government Reform Committee.


ganging up on saddam

201 Points | All year, President Bush has been the leader of a campaign against Iraq, and the United Nations finally followed as the UN Security Council endorsed a new, tougher resolution calling for Iraqi disarmament by a vote of 15-0. With the weight of the world on them, Iraq sent an acceptance letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan welcoming the return of weapons inspectors after an absence of almost four years. President Bush responded by pledging he will tolerate no "deception or denial or deceit" from Saddam Hussein and renewed his warning that if Saddam "chooses not to disarm, we will have a coalition of the willing with us" to do the job. Meanwhile, administration officials warned that Iraq had ordered 1.25 million doses of an antidote for nerve agents in what could be an attempt to protect its military personnel if Saddam uses those weapons on the battlefield.


malvo talks?

88 Points | While reporters heard that sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad was tight-lipped, they also heard that 17-year-old John Lee Malvo wasn't shy at all. The Washington Post reported that he had proclaimed he was the shooter in some killings, like the Falls Church, Va., slaying of Linda Franklin in a Home Depot parking lot. Prosecutor Paul Ebert said he expects the cases to take a year or so to get to trial. Mr. Muhammad's lawyer, Peter Greenspun, attacked the leaks: "I am hopeful the public will keep an open mind in this case and not listen to the innuendo, half-truths, and misinformation coming from law-enforcement sources." Mr. Greenspun's best-known previous case was sportscaster Marv Albert after a woman claimed he bit her and forced her into sexual relations. Mr. Greenspun ensured that Mr. Albert spent no time in jail and eventually had his misdemeanor assault plea stricken from his record


deadly trail

74 Points | More than 35 people died as about 70 tornadoes followed a cold front from the South through the Midwest and into Pennsylvania. Seventeen deaths were reported in Tennessee, with one twister packing winds of 113 mph as it ripped a path through the town of Mossy Grove. Ten died as about a dozen tornadoes struck northern Alabama, including one with winds up to 150 mph that tossed debris on a path of more than 50 miles. But the tornado that packed the biggest punch blew into Van Wert, Ohio, with winds over 200 mph. A crowd at the local theater was watching The Santa Clause 2 when theater manager Scott Shaffer heard the storm warning on the radio. He roused most of the crowd of 50 parents and children into a brick hallway before the storm ripped away parts of the wall and roof. Several cars landed on the seats where children had been sitting.


terror on tape

56 Points | Federal counterterrorism officials believe a new audiotape attributed to Osama bin Laden is probably authentic and are treating it as evidence the long-absent terrorist leader is still alive and determined to pursue war on the United States. President Bush said he was taking the tape very seriously. "Whoever put the tape out has put the world on notice yet again that we're at war," the president told reporters after a Cabinet meeting at the White House. The audiotaped statement, broadcast around the Arab world on the al-Jazeera satellite TV station, hailed the explosion of a nightclub in Bali, the fatal shooting of a U.S. Marine, and the assassination of an American diplomat in Jordan, among other acts of terror. The voice on the tape said these acts were "undertaken by zealous sons of Islam in defense of their religion and in response to the call of their God and prophet, peace be upon him."

Tim Graham Tim is a former WORLD reporter.


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