Sun News Digest

SUN NEWS DIGEST

August 17, 2004

NATIONAL

Bush seeks to realign troops

President Bush announced yesterday the most substantial realignment of U.S. troops stationed abroad since the Cold War. His plan would shift up to 70,000 troops over the next decade from Western Europe, Asia and elsewhere, stationing many of them back at home and in other countries. [Page 1A]

Investing in redeployment

The Bush administration says its troop-redeployment plan will save money and will make America safer by allowing a more flexible dispatch of forces from the United States and smaller bases overseas. But will it? [Page 1A]

WORLD

Chavez to remain in office

Venezuelans voted overwhelmingly to keep President Hugo Chavez in office, dealing a defeat to a splintered opposition and allowing the firebrand leader to convert one of the biggest challenges of his presidency into an even broader mandate to carry on his revolution for the poor. [Page 10A]

Mediation sought in Najaf

The deadly showdown between U.S. troops and Iraqi militants in Najaf dominated Iraq's national conference yesterday, with tribal and religious leaders deciding to send 60 delegates to the holy city to persuade a radical Shiite cleric to call off his fighters. [Page 10A]

FBI accused in Afghan trial

Three Americans who went on trial yesterday on charges of kidnapping, torture and running an illegal jail while posing as an anti-terrorist group in Kabul accused the FBI of removing vital evidence they needed for their defense and charged that the U.S. Embassy had blocked access to that evidence. The leader of the group, a former Special Forces soldier, Jonathan Idema, said the American government and military had cut all contact and refused to acknowledge any connection with the three after their arrest by Afghan forces in July. [Page 10A]

MARYLAND

Busch's slots proposal rejected

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. rejected a proposal from House Speaker Michael E. Busch yesterday to seek voter approval in November to legalize state-owned slot machine parlors, dousing the flickering hopes for a quick resolution to Maryland's protracted gambling debate. Instead, the governor said the General Assembly should hold a special session next month to pass a bill similar to one the Senate approved this year authorizing slots at six locations. However, Busch and his lieutenants rebuffed that idea. [Page 1A]

City schools answer critics

At a time when Baltimore school officials should be looking forward to the start of school and building on recent academic gains, they find themselves fending off criticism of past mistakes. During a series of contentious federal court hearings, the school administration came under withering attack by lawyers for the state. [Page 1B]

TODAY

Reagan has beef with PETA

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals felt an image of Ronald Reagan in its ad campaign would help boost vegetarianism. However, it got a beef from Nancy Reagan, who forbade the ads. "Win one for the Gipper" read the ad. "Animal fats DOUBLE your risk of Alzheimer's." [Page 2C]

A scary remake of `Exorcist'

Exorcist: The Beginning has had four directors, three credited screenwriters and was made twice - because director Paul Schrader's version was deemed not scary enough. A completely new one directed by Renny Harlin will open Friday instead. [Page 5C]

BUSINESS

The insurance impact of Charley

Hurricane Charley will go down in history as one of the nation's most damaging storms, costing an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion. However, it will not have the huge impact on insurance providers and consumers that Hurricane Andrew did 12 years ago, experts said. [Page 1D]

A drop in oil prices

Oil prices slipped after the president of Venezuela survived a recall referendum. The drop in oil prices, and upbeat outlooks from Wal-Mart and Lowe's, helped send stocks sharply higher Monday, although the swing was exaggerated by thin late summer trading. The Dow Jones industrials surged nearly 130 points. [Page 1D]

Income gap widens in U.S.

Over two decades, the income gap has steadily increased between the richest Americans, who own homes and stocks and got big tax breaks, and those at the middle and bottom of the pay scale, whose paychecks buy less. [Page 1D]

SPORTS

U.S. shines in Men's gymnastics

The U.S. men's gymnastics team won Olympic silver in Athens to cap a four-year rebuilding project, taking home its first medal since the boycotted 1984 Games and just the second since 1932. The Americans hit their last six routines, on parallel bars and high bar, to beat Romania. Japan took the gold. [Page 9E]

Hoff gets her stroke back

Katie Hoff rebounded from her faltering performance in the preliminaries of the 400-meter individual medley Saturday to reach tonight's final for the 200 IM. The 15-year-old from the North Baltimore Aquatic Club was the third fastest in both the preliminaries and semifinals yesterday. [Page 6E]

A's, Redman outperform O's

The Oakland Athletics broke through for three runs off Erik Bedard in the fifth inning, then relied on starter Mark Redman to defeat the Orioles, 3-1, at Camden Yards. Javy Lopez homered in the fifth, but the Orioles lost for just the third time in 14 games. [Page 1E]

TODAY ONLINE

Don't wait for the taped replay. Get Olympics results as they happen at www.baltimoresun.com/olympics

WAR IN IRAQ

For developments in the situation in Najaf, and for archived coverage of the war in Iraq, go to www.baltimoresun.com/iraq

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I can't defend myself like this. Just give me 15 years, and let's get it over with. Or hang me, and let the others go free."

Jonathan Idema, American on trial in Kabul on charges of running an illegal jail (Article, Page 10A)

MARKETS

DOW -- UP

+129.20

9,954.55

NASDAQ -- UP

+25.62

1,782.84

S&P -- UP

+14.54

1,079.34

SUNINDEX -- UP

+2.56

252.18

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