Sun News Digest

SUN NEWS DIGEST

December 16, 2004

NATIONAL

Anti-missile shield fails in test

The first test in nearly two years of a multibillion-dollar U.S. anti-missile shield failed yesterday when the interceptor missile shut down as it prepared to launch in the central Pacific, the Pentagon said. [Page 3a]

Preventing anthrax infections

Providing antibiotics quickly to people exposed to anthrax spores in an attack could prevent the vast majority of infections, according to a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. [Page 3a]

Praise, challenges on tax reform

A White House conference on the economy provides a parade of testimonials to the wisdom of the administration's plans for tax reform, Social Security changes and other issues. But the organizations challenging the proposals are formidable as well. [Page 5a]

Studies on the pill questioned

Federal officials backed away yesterday from the findings of two major studies on birth control pills, saying the research was flawed and that a new analysis shows there is no evidence that oral contraceptives cut the risk of heart disease. [Page 10a]

WORLD

Worries on Iraqi school grounds

Residents of the northern Iraqi town gassed by Saddam Hussein in 1988 received a $1 million gift from the United States this year to build two schools, but some people fear the schools are being built on contaminated ground. [Page 1a]

Yukos files for bankruptcy

Russia's largest oil company, Yukos, filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection in an attempt to stop the Russian government from auctioning the company's core assets. [Page 16a]

MARYLAND

SHA takes back credit cards

The State Highway Administration stripped nine procurement officials of their government-issued credit cards yesterday, months after they were found by auditors to have purchased supplies at exorbitant prices. [Page 1a]

Educating about diseases

The foundation of former Baltimore Orioles star and cancer survivor Eric Davis and St. Agnes HealthCare announced yesterday a three-year program to educate pastors on diseases that disproportionately affect blacks. About 70 churches have signed on, with the goal of better educating African-Americans about the health problems in their communities. [Page 1b]

SPORTS

Expos told to halt business

A day after the D.C. Council amended the Washington stadium financing deal to include at least 50 percent private financing, Major League Baseball ordered the former Montreal Expos to indefinitely suspend their business and promotional operations in the District. [Page 1a]

Getting to Colts' Manning

The Ravens will pull out all the stops in trying to slow down Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning on Sunday. That includes sending an extra linebacker, safety or cornerback or giving the appearance of a rush. [Page 1c]

Orioles lose out on Sexson

The Orioles had to cross first baseman Richie Sexson off their free-agent list when he signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Seattle Mariners. Orioles officials confirmed that the Orioles' had presented a three-year offer to Sexson's agent. [Page 3c]

BUSINESS

Telecommunications changes

Two major developments in telecommunications yesterday will either dampen price competition and advances in phone technology or light a fire under it: The $71 billion merger of Sprint Corp. and Nextel Communications Inc. into the third-largest wireless carrier and federal regulators' vote to free the four big regional Bells from having to lease their land-line networks cheaply to other providers. [Page 1a]

Google wins ad case

Google Inc. won a major legal victory yesterday when a federal judge ruled that the search engine's advertising policy does not violate federal trademark laws. The judge rejected a claim by auto insurance giant Geico Corp., which argued that Google should not be allowed to sell ads to rival insurance companies that appear whenever Geico's name is typed into the Google search box. [Page 1d]

Recreation Pier to become hotel

Baltimore developer J.J. Clarke Enterprises Inc. and a New Orleans partner known for historic restoration have been tapped to transform Fells Point's landmark Recreation Pier into a European-style boutique hotel. The decision came after more than a year in which residents and officials reviewed proposals as varied as luxury condos, a museum or artisan stalls. [Page 1d]

TODAY

Reassessing reality television

Reality television is far from over as a phenomenon, but the genre has lost steam this fall, with viewers abandoning former hits like The Apprentice and embracing some new scripted dramas. Survivor still draws big audiences, and American Idol is expected to do well when it returns next month. [Page 1a]

Rams Head Live opens

The sleek and modern-looking Rams Head Live opened in Baltimore with inaugural act the Celtic rock unit Gaelic Storm. [Page 1e]

TODAY ONLINE

LAS VEGAS NATIONALS?

Is D.C. in jeopardy of losing its baseball team before it even gets to town? Follow the saga from its beginnings in our online beltway baseball gallery. www.baltimoresun.com/dcbaseball

RAVENS AT COLTS PREVIEW

See a video of Sun Ravens writer Jamison Hensley previewing the Ravens game against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. www.baltimoresun.com/ravens

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Iran will not be indifferent to Iraq's future ... because any developments there would have an impact on the internal affairs of Iran."

Hasan Kazemi Qomi, Iran's top diplomat in Baghdad (Article, Page 19A)

MARKETS

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