The World

A top Iraqi Shiite leader considered friendly to the United States, Mohammed Bakir al-Hakim, and at least 85 other people were killed in a huge car bomb explosion outside a mosque in Najaf which houses the tomb of Imam Ali and is considered the holiest shrine in Shiite Islam.

U.S. officials reportedly are exploring ways to create with the United Nations a multinational force for Iraq that would remain under U.S. command.

A British soldier was killed by gunmen who fired rocket-propelled grenades and guns at a convoy in southern Iraq.

Halliburton Co., formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, has won contracts worth more than $1.7 billion under Operation Iraqi Freedom and stands to make hundreds of millions more dollars under a no-bid contract awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The Washington Post reported.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called on Palestinian militants to stop attacks on Israelis.

Two bomb blasts in New Delhi killed more than 50 people and injured scores of others.

An Israeli helicopter missile attack Aug. 24 killed four members of the Islamic fundamentalist militant group Hamas in Gaza. Two days later, Israel botched a missile attack against other Hamas gunmen, killing a water-pipe vendor and injuring 26 bystanders while the three Hamas members fled.

North Korean diplomats at multilateral negotiations in China said their country is considering testing a nuclear weapon.

U.S. Marines left the Liberian capital of Monrovia after an 11-day deployment in the African country torn by civil war for 14 years.

A Peruvian panel concluded that more than 69,000 died in the 20-year war between Maoist guerillas and the government that began in 1980.

The toll of U.S. troops killed in postwar Iraq surpassed the number killed in major combat, reaching 140 on Tuesday with the death of a soldier in a roadside bombing and another in a traffic accident.

Two U.S. soldiers were killed Wednesday in separate attacks in Baghdad and an Iraqi city just to the west. A third was reported to have died of a nonhostile gunshot wound. Another died Friday when a convoy was attacked in Baquoba, 40 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Alistair Campbell, a central figure in the investigation of reports that the British government exaggerated the threat from Iraq in the buildup to war, resigned as Prime Minister Tony Blair's communications chief.

The Nation

Eight Oregon firefighters were killed on the way home from fighting a blaze when their van collided with a tractor-trailer and exploded.

The Justice Department reported that violent crimes and property crimes have dropped to their lowest levels in the 30 years since the department began compiling crime statistics.

Former Roman Catholic priest John Geoghan, whose alleged abuse of some 150 boys while he was a priest opened the worst scandal in the American Catholic church's history, was killed by an inmate in the Massachusetts prison where he was sent to serve a 10-year term.

A long-term relaxation of safety vigilance at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration culminated in the loss of the space shuttle Columbia and seven astronauts, investigators said, warning that without sweeping changes, "the scene is set for another accident."

The nation's high school Class of 2003 achieved the highest score on the math section of the SAT in at least 36 years.

After more than a year as a public target of the FBI's anthrax investigation, Dr. Steven J. Hatfill filed a lawsuit accusing federal officials of harassing him with surveillance, wrecking his reputation and preventing him from finding work.

Jessica Lynch, who became a national hero after Special Forces rescued her from an Iraqi hospital, was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army.

A Chicago man fired from his job at an auto parts company six months ago returned with a handgun and fatally shot six former co-workers, before being killed in a gunbattle with police.

Only two of 10 teachers in America's classrooms are men, the lowest figure in 40 years, according to a National Education Association survey. One in 10 teachers is a minority.

Rep. Bill Janklow, a South Dakota Republican, was charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death of a motorcyclist who was killed, police said, when Janklow's car, traveling more than 70 mph, ran a stop sign this month.

The Region

Dontee D. Stokes, a West Baltimore barber who avoided prison last year after admitting shooting a priest he accused of molesting him, was charged with assaulting the mother of his child. He filed a counter-complaint against the woman.

A privately owned former military training jet crashed in Harford County shortly after taking off from Martin State Airport, killing the pilot.

Surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center removed a woman's heart, removed a tumor and reimplanted the organ with new atria.

Two Naval Academy midshipmen accused of raping two female classmates at a party last year submitted resignations.

Half the high school students who took the new Maryland end-of-course examinations failed - a result so dismal that the board is further delaying making the tests a requirement of graduation.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, a private group that certifies medical residency programs, took accreditation from Johns Hopkins' Hospital's internal medicine program, which has 106 residents, for several violations, including failure to limit residents' work schedule to fewer than 80 hours a week.

A poll by the Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies found that 57 percent of Marylanders support slots at tracks, while 31 percent oppose.

Carlton Dotson, a former Eastern Shore high school athlete, was indicted in the killing of Patrick Dennehy, a basketball player who was his teammate and roommate at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

Maryland's No. 15-ranked football team was upset in overtime by Northern Illinois, 20-13, in its opening game.

Darrell Brooks, 22, of Baltimore was sentenced to life without parole after admitting setting a fire in East Baltimore that killed the Dawsons, a family of seven, in October. Investigators said it was in retaliation for calls to police to report drug dealers.


"The closer we got to the climb, the more unrealistic it all became. I went from being completely confident to completely discouraged ... to simply doing it."

Heart transplant recipient Kelly Perkins, after climbing the 14,686-foot Matterhorn in Switzerland

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