What's the Most Important News Story of the Year?

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Story of the Year
If you can measure the importance of a news story by how many hits it generates on a major news Web site, the winner this year is not Election Day. It came in fourth. It was not the day the manhunt started for the Beltway sniper. That came in third. It was not the anniversary of the Sept. 11 atrocities. That was second. No, the busiest news day of the year, as measured by the number of hits on the Yahoo News Web site, was March 25. That was the day after Halle Berry became the first African-American to win an Oscar for best actress. The break that ended the sniper manhunt, by the way, was fifth.

Capital from the Capitol
A study now being funded by the federal government is paying women as much as $75 a piece to watch pornography while researchers monitor them to determine "what types of audiovisual erotica women find sexually arousing." The study, being done at Northwestern University, puts participating volunteers in a room like this one while they watch clips from the movies. The study is funded with $147,000 from the federal National Institutes for Child Health and Human Development. A spokesman for the agency told the <I>Washington Times that it "covers all aspects of human development."

Textbook Relates Allah's "Curse"
A report on the contents of Saudi Arabian schoolbooks, released by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute, finds that an official textbook for eighth graders says, "Jews and Christians were cursed by Allah and turned into apes and pigs." The same textbook, according to the institute's translation, quotes the prophet Muhammad as saying, "The hour [the Day of Judgment] will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them."

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting
That 70-foot tall Douglas Fir from Oregon, lit to the tune of "Joy to the World" by House Speaker Hastert 11 days ago, is not -- repeat NOT -- the Capitol Hill Christmas tree. That's what it used to be called, but the official name for the tree, which has been a Congressional tradition since 1964, is the Capitol Holiday Tree. People on Capitol Hill say the new name became official back in 1997 when the tree, a 63-foot Black Hills Spruce, came from Senate Democratic Leader Daschle's home state. You can find out all about the tree at Daschle's Congressional Web site.