Sun News Digest

SUN NEWS DIGEST

February 28, 2005

NATIONAL

Raising high school standards

A coalition of 13 states confirmed plans yesterday to require tougher high school courses and diploma requirements, changes that could affect about one in three U.S. students. The announcement is the most tangible sign that the nation's governors, gathered in the capital for a summit on improving high schools, want to see progress quickly. [Page 3a]

Rock the Vote reaches out

Amid big-bucks lobbying by more powerful groups, Rock the Vote is reaching out to younger Americans over the Internet while planning concerts and advertisements to bring a youthful influence to this year's debate over the national retirement system. [Page 4a]

Jackson trial under way

Prosecutors handling the child molestation charges against Michael Jackson will finally reveal the details of their case before a jury today, culminating investigations into the pop singer that began more than a decade ago. [Page 6a]

WORLD

Hussein's relative captured

Saddam Hussein's half-brother, high on the list of most-wanted men in Iraq, was captured in Syria and handed over to Iraqi authorities, officials said yesterday. Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan was Hussein's intelligence chief during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. More recently, Iraqi officials have accused al-Hassan of sending insurgents money from Syria. [Page 1a]

Mideast peace talks in jeopardy

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon threatened yesterday to suspend peace talks and escalate military operations unless Palestinian authorities act swiftly to destroy militant groups behind attacks, including a suicide bombing Friday that killed four people in Tel Aviv. [Page 1a]

Pope makes public appearance

Touching his throat fitted with a breathing tube, Pope John Paul II surprised the world yesterday with his first public appearance since surgery to ease his breathing - just moments after a Vatican official stood on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica to read the ailing pontiff's appeal for prayers. [Page 8a]

MARYLAND

Norris seeks employment

Edward T. Norris, the former Baltimore police commissioner who recently completed six months in federal prison for misusing a city police account, is living in Tampa, Fla., and is permitted to leave home only to seek employment and go to church. He said his criminal record has made it difficult to find work, but he hopes a talk-show host stint beginning today on a Baltimore radio station will pay off.[Page 1a]

Howard schools

Following a national trend for public schools, the Howard County system is considering the establishment of a nonprofit, private education foundation to tap into the wealth of the affluent county and reduce fund-raising disparities between schools. Education foundations in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties have raised money for a number of projects. [Page 1b]

Fighting witness intimidation

The efforts of some state lawmakers to curb witness intimidation by allowing hearsay evidence in court are running up against one of the criminal justice system's most sacred principles: the right to confront an accuser. A Senate committee approved two versions of witness intimidation legislation: one that contains the controversial hearsay exception for intimidated witnesses, and a similar bill without it. A House committee - which killed a similar hearsay exception proposal last year - has yet to vote. [Page 1b]

TODAY

Academy Awards

Cate Blanchett, who portrays the legendary Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator, and Morgan Freeman, who plays an ex-prizefighter in Million Dollar Baby won Oscars as supporting actor and actress last night. For complete results, go to www.baltimoresun.com. [Page 1c]

Gibson sells Montana ranch

Actor Mel Gibson sold his 45,000-acre Beartooth Ranch near Columbus, Mont., in a multimillion-dollar handshake deal with a neighbor, the buyers said. [Page 2c]

City hopes to sell waterfront site

Baltimore's Planning Commission has approved a City Council bill that would allow the city to sell the Fire Department's repair facility at 1407 Key Highway - a complex that occupies more than an acre of prime waterfront real estate between the Inner Harbor and Locust Point. [Page 1c]

SPORTS

Swimming against the odds

McCune-Albright syndrome, a rare growth disorder, has not kept Lucy Gilmore, 21, from competing as a swimmer at the College of Notre Dame. The effects of the disease mean that Gilmore often swims with broken bones. [Page 1a]

Carolina holds off Terps

Maryland rallied from a 10-point deficit to tie North Carolina but fell short of victory against the No. 2 Tar Heels in an 85-83 loss at Comcast Center. It was the first time that North Carolina had beaten the Terps on the road since 2001. [Page 1d]

Defector throws for O's

The Orioles held a third workout for Cuban defector Maels Rodriguez, with team officials and bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks watching him throw in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Rodriguez, 25, used to hit 100 mph with his fastball, but he hasn't pitched in two years, and the Orioles are having a tough time getting an accurate read on him. [Page 8d]

TODAY ONLINE

SPRING TRAINING

Keep up with the latest from the Orioles' spring training camp, plus get rosters, schedules, photos and more at www.baltimoresun.com/orioles

TRAFFIC UPDATES

Before you hit the road, go online to get the latest road conditions, updated every five minutes. www.baltimoresun.com/traffic

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"What am I going to do? I don't know what I'm going to do. Nobody wants to hire me."

Edward T. Norris, the former Baltimore police commissioner who recently completed six months in federal prison. (Article, Page 1A)

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