Sun News Digest

SUN NEWS DIGEST

September 15, 2005

NATIONAL

Roberts questioned a 2nd day

Pressed by senators on issues ranging from private property rights to the right to die, Judge John G. Roberts Jr. said that he would not allow his personal views to creep into his work on the Supreme Court. But President Bush's nominee for chief justice declined, for a second day, to lay out his views on issues that might come before the court. [Page 3a]

Pledge ruled unconstitutional

A federal judge declared the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools unconstitutional, a decision that could put the divisive issue on track for another round of Supreme Court arguments. [Page 3a]

Ophelia lashes N.C. coast

Hurricane Ophelia lashed the North Carolina coast with high winds and heavy rain yesterday, beginning what threatened to be a two-day assault with serious flooding. [Page 5a]

WORLD

Iraq blasts kill at least 160

At least 160 people were killed and 570 were wounded as a series of bombs tore through Baghdad. Many of the dead were laborers lured to a bomber who was posing as an employer. [Page 1a]

British gas prices near $10

American drivers, count your blessings: Fuel prices in some parts of Britain shot up close to $10 a gallon yesterday - caused in part by rising global oil costs but agitated by a threatened trucker blockade of the country's oil refineries. [Page 1a]

Bush calls for end to tariffs

Saying poverty breeds terrorism and despair, President Bush challenged world leaders at the United Nations to abolish all trade tariffs and subsidies worth hundreds of billions of dollars to promote prosperity and opportunity in struggling nations. [Page 12a]

MARYLAND

Steele backs teacher merit pay

Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele yesterday began a push for merit pay for teachers and an overhauled pension system, saying a blue-ribbon panel he headed has determined that market-style reforms are necessary to help recruit and retain educators. [Page 1a]

Drug use up in Md. prisons

The number of Maryland prison inmates testing positive for drugs has increased sharply this year, running about 20 percent higher than in 2004, records show. The increase comes amid complaints that recent staff cutbacks have compromised prison safety and security. [Page 1b]

City moves to lock in fuel price

Baltimore moved closer yesterday to purchasing the millions of gallons of fuel it burns annually with a locked-in, long-term price, a practice other governments have used for years to mitigate the rising cost of gas. [Page 1b]

BUSINESS

Northwest, Delta file Chapter 11

Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors, joining a class of major U.S. carriers struggling for survival in an era of record high travel but historically low fares, spiking fuel costs and intense competition. [Page 1a]

Slower rise in health care costs

For the first time in five years, employer costs for health insurance didn't increase at a double-digit rate this year, according to a national survey. But, the percentage of employers offering health coverage has continued to shrink, to 60 percent, down from 63 percent last year and 68 percent in 2000. [Page 1c]

Colo. firm to build city hotel

A Colorado company will construct Baltimore's publicly financed convention headquarters hotel, city officials said, replacing Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., which could not keep its cost estimates within the budget set for the project. [Page 1c]

SPORTS

Rangers top O's, 7-6, in 10

The Rangers beat the Orioles, 7-6, on Kevin Mench's 10th-inning single. Reliever Jorge Julio was entrusted with a three-run lead in the ninth inning, but couldn't hold it, allowing a two-out pinch-hit homer by former Oriole David Dellucci to tie the score. [Page 1d]

Billick noncommittal on QBs

Coach Brian Billick left open the possibility that Anthony Wright could remain the Ravens' starting quarterback after Kyle Boller recovers from a toe injury. Asked if Boller would get back the starting job, Billick said: "Anthony Wright is our starting quarterback, and he will be our starting quarterback until circumstances change." [Page 1d]

TODAY

Studios battle over `Smoking'

Competing studios are claiming the rights to release Thank You for Smoking, an independent film that turned their heads over the weekend at the Toronto Film Festival. Paramount Classics felt it had a handshake deal to distribute the film about an unapologetic tobacco lobbyist. Fox Searchlight said its deal is in writing. [Page 1e]

Luxury's not quite out

Fashion watchers who predicted that season after season of over-the-top-luxe was coming to an end were right - sort of. At Fashion Week in New York, designers for spring lined catwalks with models dripping in silks and satins - and cotton. [Page 1e]

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"We just come with the hopes of making [about $7] for one day's work. Instead, we have to face death."

Raheem Zahir, who was wounded in a Baghdad bombing that killed 112 civilians (Article, Page 1A)

MARKETS

DOW

-52.54

10,544.90

NASDAQ

-22.42

2,149.33

S&P

-4.04

1,227.16

SUNINDEX

-2.49

325.14

TODAY ONLINE

SCHOOL REPORT

A governor's commission on education in Maryland made 30 recommendations to improve state education. Read the executive summary at www.baltimoresun.com/schools/report

OPHELIA WATCH

It looks like Hurricane Ophelia's worst will spare Maryland. Follow the storm's course and check local forecasts at www.marylandweather.com

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