Sun News Digest

SUN NEWS DIGEST

December 17, 2004

NATIONAL

Guard needs are many, chief says

The National Guard needs $20 billion in vehicles, radios and other equipment over the next three years to perform all the overseas and homeland security missions it is being assigned, the chief of the Guard says. [Page 1a

Social Security health called key

President Bush said that addressing long-term problems in Social Security would reassure the financial markets, offering a rationale to offset criticism that his plan to add personal investment accounts to the retirement system would require up to $2 trillion in new government borrowing. [Page 3a

Group criticizes NASA on shuttle

NASA needs to supply astronauts with a reasonable, doable and practicable way to plug space-shuttle holes in orbit before resuming launches, an advisory group said. The task force's position could lead to a showdown between the group and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. [Page 3a

WORLD

Court rules on holding of militants

In a powerfully worded decision, Britain's highest court ruled yesterday that the government cannot hold foreign militant suspects indefinitely without charging or trying them. [Page 23a

Bin Laden has a new audiotape

In a new audiotape, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden praised the attack on a U.S. consulate in Saudi Arabia on Dec. 6 and encouraged more attacks to keep Middle Eastern oil out of the hands of the United States. [Page 24a

MARYLAND

Security guard charged in arson

A 21-year-old security guard hired to watch over a housing development under construction in Southern Maryland was arrested yesterday and charged with arson of 26 houses there, the U.S. attorney's office said. The Dec. 6 fires caused $10 million in damage to the Hunters Brooke development in Indian Head in Charles County. [Page 1a

Highway agency fires 5 employees

The State Highway Administration fired five employees for their roles in a procurement scandal in which supplies were bought for up to 28 times their retail cost. Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said administrator Neil J. Pedersen made the decision a day after receiving information from the attorney general's office. [Page 1a

Black women sue hair salon

Eight African-American women filed a federal class action case against Hair Cuttery's parent company, saying the chain discriminates against black customers. The move is the latest development in a lawsuit filed this year by an Anne Arundel County woman who said the salon tried to charge her more because she is black. [Page 1b

TODAY

Fenton retiring today from CBS

Tom Fenton, 74, the Baltimore-born dean of television foreign correspondents, is retiring from CBS, effective today. Fenton, a graduate of Gilman School, began his journalism career at The Sun in 1961. [Page 5c

Don Johnson saves his Colo. farm

Actor Don Johnson has saved the farm, paying off the creditors listed on bankruptcy petitions in time to keep from having to auction his 17-acre spread near Aspen, Colo. [Page 2c

BUSINESS

Fewer consumers finish shopping

A survey by the National Retail Federation found that consumers on average had finished about 46 percent of holiday shopping, compared with 52 percent last year. A question for retailers: Are people waiting for final-week bargains or are they tapped out? [Page 1d

More Midway gates for Southwest

Southwest Airlines won additional gates at a Midwest hub, crowding out competitors and solidifying its stature as dominant carrier at another airport. Southwest will control six more gates at Chicago Midway Airport, giving it more than half the total, in an auction of assets of ATA Airlines. [Page 1d

Acquisition may face tough OK

Health care products giant Johnson & Johnson's $25.4 billion acquisition of Guidant Corp., one of the world's top makers of cardiac devices, could face a tough review from regulators because of their competition in the coronary-stent market, analysts say. [Page 1d

SPORTS

O's lose out on getting Hudson

The Athletics sent right-handed pitcher Tim Hudson to the Braves for three players after failing to work out a deal with the Orioles. Oakland general manager Billy Beane wanted the Orioles to relinquish young pitchers Erik Bedard, John Maine and Hayden Penn for Hudson, who can become a free agent after next season. [Page 1e

Washington under a deadline

The official deadline for Washington to pass stadium funding legislation that is acceptable to Major League Baseball might be Dec. 31, but fans should know by Tuesday whether there will be baseball in the next season. The District of Columbia Council is scheduled to go into recess Thursday. [Page 1e

Moore's plans take Colts for ride

With Peyton Manning at quarterback and running back Edgerrin James fully recovered from 2001 knee surgery, the Colts are threatening several records in their pursuit of the Super Bowl. The Indianapolis architects behind the offense are president Bill Polian and offensive coordinator Tom Moore. [Page 1e

TODAY ONLINE

HEALTH AND SCIENCE

See a video of Sun science writer Dennis O'Brien discussing his article about the inability of some cultures to see the color blue. www.baltimoresun.com/healthscience

FLU VACCINE SHORTAGE

Efforts to get flu vaccine to high-risk groups seem to be falling short. Find out more, plus read archived coverage of the vaccine shortage. www.baltimoresun.com/flu

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"In a world where civility is increasingly a casualty of competitive pressures, Tom holds steady to that most old-fashioned of virtues: He's a true gentleman."

Andrew Heyward, president of CBS News, on the retirement today of foreign correspondent Tom Fenton (Article, Page 5C)

MARKETS

DOW - UP

+ 14.19

10,705.64

NASDAQ - DOWN

- 16.40

2,146.15

S&P - DOWN

- 2.51

1,203.21

SUN INDEX - DOWN

- 0.64

302.92

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