Sun News Digest

SUN NEWS DIGEST

February 15, 2005

NATIONAL

Flu shots may not help elderly

A new study based on more than three decades of U.S. data suggests that giving flu shots to the elderly has not saved any lives. Led by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, the study challenges standard government dogma. [Page 3a]

Bush asks $81.9 billion for wars

President Bush asked Congress to provide $81.9 billion more for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for other U.S. efforts overseas, shoving the total price tag for the conflicts and anti-terror fight past $300 billion. Republicans hope to push the package through Congress by early spring. [Page 3a]

Missile system fails for 3rd time

The nation's fledgling missile defense system suffered its third straight test failure when an interceptor rocket failed to launch Sunday night from its base on an island, leaving the target rocket to splash into the Pacific Ocean, the Pentagon said. [Page 6a]

WORLD

Ex-premier of Lebanon killed

Lebanon's former prime minister, Rafik al-Hariri, was killed by a powerful bomb as his motorcade traveled along Beirut's waterfront. Hariri had resigned from the government in October and was critical of Syria's military and political influence in the country. Syria, which influences virtually all key political decisions, denied any role and condemned the assassination. [Page 1a]

New political contenders in Iraq

Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Iraq's interim finance minister, and Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the interim vice president, emerged as top candidates to become Iraq's new prime minister, as political leaders began negotiating for power in the country's new parliament. [Page 10a]

Bodies returned to Palestinians

Crowds of Palestinians greeted a convoy of ambulances bringing home the bodies yesterday of 15 militants killed in clashes with Israelis - an Israeli gesture understood by Gazans as a significant benefit of a new truce. [Page 10a]

MARYLAND

Morhaim charged by board

Maryland's medical disciplinary board has charged Del. Dan K. Morhaim - one of two practicing physicians in the General Assembly - with falsifying documents in the execution of living wills for three elderly residents of a Pikesville nursing home where he works as medical director. [Page 1a]

Sun suit dismissed

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit brought by The Sun against Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. over his order barring state employees from speaking with two of its reporters. Editor Timothy A. Franklin said the newspaper will file an appeal with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. [Page 1a]

Warning over abuse testimony

Two Baltimore detectives testifying at the child abuse trial of defrocked priest Maurice Blackwell referred to other potential victims of the former clergyman - statements that the judge told jurors to disregard. [Page 1b]

TODAY

Surfers aid tsunami victims

The good works of today's surfers -particularly their tsunami relief efforts - show they care about more than hanging 10. The 2005 Frozen Surf Open, held in Ocean City last weekend, raised about $2,400 and is still taking donations. The competition, and several other Maryland-area events, are part of the movement by surfers to help tsunami-struck countries. [Page 1c]

Criticism irks PBS executive

PBS President Pat Mitchell is troubled by criticism from a broad range of left-leaning advocacy groups and media critics who've taken her to task for pulling an episode of the children's program, Postcards From Buster, that was to have shown a real-life Vermont family with lesbian moms. [Page 1c]

BUSINESS

Verizon to buy MCI

Verizon Communications Inc. said that it will buy MCI Corp. for roughly $6.7 billion, mating the nation's largest local telephone company and No. 2 long-distance provider in a deal demonstrating the depth of change in what was once a staid, regulated industry. [Page 1a]

Stroh brewery tower to be razed

One of the most visible and well-known landmarks along the Baltimore Beltway, the former Stroh Brewery Co. tower, will soon be demolished to make way for an $8 million warehouse and office building complex that could bring about 200 jobs to a Baltimore County enterprise zone. [Page 1d]

SPORTS

Canseco pumps up steroids

In his new book, which appeared in stores yesterday, Jose Canseco not only names names of baseball players he says used steroids but also mounts a defense of the drugs' benefits. He says that Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada is the product of a pumped-up body that seems to have come from steroids, although Canseco says he has no firsthand knowledge of that. [Page 1e]

NHL announcement expected

The NHL is expected to announce tomorrow that it will cancel its season. Though it is not known when the NHL might resume, the league and its players will have to do a lot of fence-mending to win back fans. [Page 1e]

NFL could get first black owner

Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler agreed to buy the Minnesota Vikings in a deal that would make him the NFL's first black owner. Published reports put the acquisition price at about $625 million. [Page 8e]

TODAY ONLINE

JUDGE DISMISSES SUN SUIT

A federal judge acted yesterday to dismiss a Sun suit challenging on First Amendment grounds an order from Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. barring thousands of state employees from contact with two journalists. Read archived stories on the suit at www.baltimoresun.com/ban

RUMOR Q & A

Read Sun State House bureau chief David Nitkin's answers to selected readers' questions on the O'Malley rumor controversy. www.baltimoresun.com/rumor

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"It's the right deal at the right time."

Ivan Seidenberg, chairman and chief executive officer of Verizon Communications Inc., on the $6.7 billion deal to acquire MCI Inc. (Article, Page 1A)

MARKETS

DOW -- DOWN

-4.88

10,791.13

NASDAQ -- UP

+6.25

2,082.91

S&P -- UP

+0.84

1,206.14

SUNINDEX -- UP

+0.89

309.64

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