Sun News Digest

SUN NEWS DIGEST

February 18, 2005

NATIONAL

Negroponte intelligence nominee

John D. Negroponte, a veteran of global hot spots in a diplomatic career that spans four decades, was nominated by President Bush yesterday to be the nation's first director of national intelligence. [Page 1a]

New prisoner abuse reported

New documents of prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan show that soldiers threatened a severely beaten man with indefinite detention unless he withdrew a complaint about his treatment. Some photos of mock prisoner executions were destroyed to prevent an uproar similar to the Abu Ghraib scandal, according to newly released reports. [Page 3a]

Questions on Iraqi readiness

Defense officials admitted yesterday that nearly all of Iraqi Army and National Guard units are ill-equipped and poorly trained, raising new questions about how soon those troops will be able to take over for American forces. [Page 5a]

WORLD

Iran threatens peace

In a rare admission, Israeli and Palestinian authorities are saying that Iran is working to thwart chances for an Arab-Israeli peace settlement. [Page 1a]

Shiite majority in Iraq vote

Certified Iraqi election results show that a Shiite alliance has won a slim majority in the country's new National Assembly. [Page 18a]

MARYLAND

Blackwell convicted of abuse

Maurice Blackwell, the former priest of St. Edward Catholic Church in West Baltimore, was convicted yesterday of molesting a parish choirboy, who years later shot him. The defrocked priest could face up to 45 years in prison when he is sentenced April 15. [Page 1a]

Firm says it warned about bridge

The company that began replacing the deck on the westbound Bay Bridge in 2002 said yesterday that it repeatedly warned state officials that a bonding agent required under the project's specifications could fail - a prediction that came true when concrete on the span developed extensive cracks last year. [Page 1a]

Assembly say is sought on parks

Legislators should have the power to block the sale of state parkland, leading senators said yesterday, despite concerns from agency officials that such interference would hamstring their ability to conduct routine property management. [Page 1b]

TODAY

Four stars for `Sea Inside'

The Sea Inside, Constantine, Winn Dixie, Son of the Mask and The Assassination of Richard Nixon are opening at area theaters today. The Sea Inside rises above the rest with four stars from Sun critic Michael Sragow. [Page 1c]

PBS cleans up documentary

Worried about the FCC, PBS is taking the words out of the mouths of some soldiers filmed during combat in Iraq. The public broadcaster is distributing "clean" and "raw" versions of next Tuesday's Frontline documentary about the Iraq war, titled A Company of Soldiers, and is warning it can't protect stations against FCC fines stemming from the language. [Page 1c]

Sheila Dixon, remade

Essence magazine for March, which hits stands today, features a makeover for City Council President Sheila Dixon in a sort of New-York-eye-for-the-Baltimore-politician redo. [Page 1c]

BUSINESS

Signs of cooling expansion

The Index of Leading Economic Indicators fell 0.3 percent in January, the first decline in three months, as consumer confidence lagged and stock prices slumped. The drop adds to evidence that economic expansion is cooling. [Page 1d]

Bankruptcy bill advances

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation yesterday that would make it harder for consumers to erase their debts in bankruptcy court, but a fight lies ahead for the bill in the full chamber. Democrats have prepared amendments that would protect employees of bankrupt companies and exempt military personnel from new restrictions on filing for bankruptcy. [Page 1d]

SPORTS

Baker speaks on Sosa

Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker said he reached out to Sammy Sosa after he was traded to the Orioles, seeking to understand why his relationship with the former Cubs star fell apart at the end of last season. "He really didn't have an answer," Baker said. [Page 1f]

Waltrip wins Daytona qualifier

Michael Waltrip passed Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the final straightaway to win the first of two 150-mile qualifying races for Sunday's Daytona 500, while Tony Stewart won the second race after Kevin Harvick bumped leader Jimmie Johnson and ignited a wild crash. [Page 3f]

Possible NHL snags in Canada

If the National Hockey League decides to open the 2005-2006 season with replacement players, the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks most likely wouldn't be able to play any home games. Provincial labor laws in Quebec and British Columbia prohibit companies from hiring replacements to fill in for striking workers. [Page 6f]

MORE PRISONER ABUSE CLAIMS

Newly released internal Army records indicate more incidents of detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. To read about previously reported abuse cases, go to www.baltimoresun.com/prisonerabuse

DAYTONA COVERAGE

Read award-winning Sun auto-racing writer Sandra McKee's reports from the site of this weekend's Daytona 500 at www.baltimoresun.com/autoracing

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"She's one of those women, when she fastens those eyes on you, you know you better sit up and pay attention. So we just played those up."

Mikki Taylor, Essence beauty director and cover editor, on City Council President Sheila Dixon's makeover (Article, Page 1C)

MARKETS

DOW -- DOWN

-80.62

10,754.26

NASDAQ -- DOWN

-26.09

2,061.34

S&P -- DOWN

-9.59

1,200.75

SUNINDEX -- DOWN

-2.11

306.62

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