The World

A U.S. Black Hawk Medevac helicopter crashed near Fallujah, Iraq, a stronghold of the anti-American insurgency, killing all nine soldiers aboard.

A mortar attack in Baghdad, Iraq, killed an American soldier and wounded 33 troops and a civilian west of the city.

Seventeen people were killed and dozens injured, including many children, by a double bomb blast in Afghanistan's southern city of Kandahar.

An explosion ripped through worshippers streaming from a Shiite mosque in Baqouba, Iraq, killing five people and wounding dozens, and police defused a car bomb outside a nearby mosque.

Israeli and Libyan officials met secretly last month and discussed the establishment of ties between the two countries, according to Israeli officials quoted in Israeli newspapers.

French authorities were searching for an Afghan on a U.S. list of suspected terrorists because someone with his name failed to board a Christmas Eve flight to the United States that was canceled amid security fears.

Al-Jazeera satellite channel broadcast an audiotape believed to have been made by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in which he urged Muslims to continue fighting a holy war in Iraq and the Middle East rather than cooperate with peace efforts.

A 57-year-old man was pulled from the rubble of the earthquake in Bam, Iran, barely conscious but alive 13 days after the quake.

Mijailo Mijailovic, 25, a Swede of Yugoslav birth, confessed to last year's murder of Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh.

Hundreds of species of land plants and animals around the globe could vanish or be on the road to extinction over the next 50 years if global warming continues, according to a study by scientists published in the journal Nature.

U.S. occupation authorities in Iraq began releasing more than 500 low-risk security detainees in a gamble calculated to win the support, or at least the neutrality, of many Iraqis who oppose the American presence.

After three weeks of frequently contentious debate among rival Afghan factions, delegates to a historic national convention agreed on a constitution that approved a presidency with executive powers, two vice presidents and two legislative bodies with considerable authority.

Greek Premier Costas Simitis asked for early elections in March in a bid to boost his sagging Socialist party and end political uncertainties during the run-up to the Olympic Games, also announcing that would step down as the leader of his party.

Two subway operators in Tokyo have decided to supply toilet tissue for their commuters, 30 years after the courtesy was withdrawn because of rampant paper pilfering.

Britain's royal coroner, looking into the 1997 death of Diana, Princess of Wales, said the princess was not pregnant at her death as had been speculated.

The Nation

U.S. agriculture officials killed 450 calves in a Washington state herd that includes an offspring of the cow diagnosed with mad cow disease, which they said they had confirmed came originally from a cow in Canada.

Consumer debt, which includes auto loans and credit cards but excludes mortgages, rose to a record $1.99 trillion in November, the Federal Reserve reported - equal to about $18,249 per U.S. household.

President Bush called for a major overhaul of America's immigration system to grant legal status to millions of undocumented workers in the United States, saying the current program is not working.

The Bush administration lowered the national terror warning level as Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said that an urgent threat had passed. However, the airline industry remained at high alert.

New York City agreed to pay $3 million to the family of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant killed five years ago by undercover police who said they mistook his wallet for a gun.

The Food and Drug Administration announced it has continued its decade-plus ban on most silicone gel breast implants for now, because of persistent concerns about how often the devices break apart and the damage that can result.

A Modesto, Calif., judge ruled that accused murderer Scott Peterson cannot get a fair trial in his dead wife's hometown and ordered the case moved out of Stanislaus County.

Teen-agers in the United States have higher rates of obesity than those in 14 other industrialized countries, including France and Germany, according to a study of nearly 30,000 youngsters ages 13 and 15 published by Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

The Region

Baltimore school officials disclosed that the school system's accumulated deficit had grown by $6 million to $58 million.

Acting in the wake of fierce public opposition, a prison management firm dropped its proposal to build a maximum-security federal prison in eastern Baltimore County.

Baltimore firefighters found the bodies of a man and woman in a backroom of Fancy Signs on Eastern Avenue after extinguishing a midnight fire.

The O'Malley administration pledged $250,000 to help the B&O; Railroad Museum in its $4.5 million restoration from severe damage in last year's extraordinary snowstorm.

A 3-year-old Baltimore boy became the first influenza-related death reported in Maryland this flu season.

More than 100 people were charged in trafficking in black bear parts - including whole bears, gallbladders and paws - after a sting in which the Virginia authorities and the National Park Service set up a phony sporting goods store to sell items poached in Virginia.

Montgomery County police arrested the 18-year-old son of the head of the Liberian Embassy in Washington along with two other teen-agers on charges that included carjacking and robbery.


"Very interesting."

President Vicente Fox of Mexico, commenting on President Bush's immigration proposals

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