Sun News Digest

SUN NEWS DIGEST

December 30, 2004

WORLD

Death toll might exceed 100,000

The official death toll from Sunday's earthquake and tsunamis across 12 countries soared to more than 80,000 yesterday, and the Red Cross predicted that it could pass 100,000 in the stricken nations. [Page 1a]

Bush announces relief-aid plan

President Bush announced that the United States, India, Australia and Japan would coordinate relief efforts for tsunami victims and said a U.S. pledge of $35 million in aid was "only the beginning of our help." [Page 1a]

At least 32 killed in Iraq ambush

Militants ambushed an elite Iraqi police unit in a booby-trapped house in the Ghaziliya neighborhood of Baghdad, killing at least seven police officers and 25 other Iraqis. [Page 12a]

NATIONAL

U.S. fingerprint database lacking

Three years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has failed to create a unified U.S. fingerprint database, meaning most visitors still aren't fully screened for terrorist or criminal ties, said a report by the Justice Department Inspector General. [Page 3a]

Iraqi expatriates can vote in U.S.

Iraqi citizens in the United States will get a taste of the hope and logistical headaches created by the Jan. 30 elections with news from the International Organization for Migration that Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington and Nashville, Tenn., will serve as polling sites for expatriates. [Page 3a]

MARYLAND

Houses reach malpractice accord

House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement late last night to keep malpractice insurance costs for doctors in check, defying Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s pledge to veto the legislation. The compromise was struck on the second day of the special session. [Page 1a]

City's teen birth rate at a low

City health officials are to announce today that the city's teen birth rate has reached its lowest level since recordkeeping began more than 100 years ago. Seven percent of girls ages 15 to 19 gave birth in 2003, down from 11.7 percent in 1991. [Page 1b]

Phelps pleads guilty in deal

Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps pleaded guilty to driving while impaired, part of a plea arrangement in which prosecutors agreed to drop more serious charges stemming from a drunken driving arrest. [Page 1b]

SPORTS

McAlister calls Ravens divided

Cornerback Chris McAlister said the Ravens have become divided. "It really used to be real loose, and we used to have a lot of fun in here," he said about the locker room. "It used to be a lot of guys laughing and having a good time. ... Now it's kind of like everybody stays in their own little corner." [Page 1c]

Pistons edge Wizards, 107-105

Chauncey Billups hit a 14-foot jumper with 0.7 seconds remaining to give the Detroit Pistons a 107-105 win over the Washington Wizards. The Pistons overcame a 19-point first-half deficit and a 15-point third-quarter deficit. [Page 1c]

Warner wants to leave Giants

Quarterback Kurt Warner plans to leave the New York Giants after this season rather than remain a backup to Eli Manning . "I am not going to be content being a backup; that's just the bottom line," he said. [Page 3c]

BUSINESS

US Airways urged to do more

US Airways management needs to stop blaming its employees and reassure passengers that it can operate soundly after a holiday weekend punctuated by misdirected luggage and stranded customers, management experts and image consultants say. [Page 1d]

$1.8 billion renovation boosts BWI

A $1.8 billion renovation is aiding Baltimore-Washington International Airport's evolution as a low-cost hub, positioning the terminal well for what likely will be the wave of the future in the airline industry. [Page 1d]

Good year for existing-home sales

Sales of previously owned homes rose 2.7 percent to a record in November, making 2004 the best year ever for housing. A record 6.14 million existing homes have been sold this year, surpassing the 6.1 million in 2003. [Page 1d]

TODAY

Orbach of `Law & Order' dies

Jerry Orbach, 69, who for 12 years brought sardonic wit to Law & Order as Detective Lennie Briscoe, died Tuesday night of prostate cancer. "His loss is irreplaceable," Dick Wolf, the crime series' creator, said yesterday. [Page 1e]

Studio turns to Canadian Fockers

Stumped in its bid to publicize its film Meet the Fockers with a reunion of Americans with that surname, Universal Studios was forced to import the families from Canada. "It's not as popular a name as we had originally thought," said Susan Storey of Universal Orlando. [Page 1e]

TV needed for '05 celestial events

The most astonishing celestial events on the stargazing calendar in 2005 are likely to require more time in front of a television or a computer than out under a sparkling dark sky. [Page 1e]

Cafe Milano a D.C. hot spot

Since 1993, when Cafe Milano opened in Georgetown, it has become a social anchor of the capital, where diplomats, politicians, celebrities and assorted wannabe power players romp with their own kind. During next month's presidential inauguration, the nightspot will be booked with some lavish private parties. [Page 1e]

TODAY ONLINE

AFTERMATH OF TSUNAMIS

Get developments on the cleanup and relief efforts in the aftermath of the devastating tsunamis. www.baltimoresun.com/tsunami

NAVY BOWL GAME AND Q & A

Submit your questions to Navy head football coach Paul Johnson and get advance coverage, live scores and wrap-ups from today's Emerald Bowl. www.baltimoresun.com/college/football

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