Kerik withdraws his name

Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, President Bush's choice to be homeland security secretary, has withdrawn his name from consideration, the White House announced late yesterday. Presidential press secretary Scott McClellan said Kerik withdrew "for personal reasons." [Page 1a

Army negotiating for more armor

The Army entered negotiations with an armor manufacturer yesterday in an effort to speed up production of armored Humvees and get them to the troops more quickly, Army and company officials said. The factory said yesterday that it could produce 100 more vehicles a month. [Page 3a

Court to hear inmate's appeal

The Supreme Court accepted an appeal from a Texas death-row inmate yesterday in a case with international implications. The question is whether the federal government can permit Texas to execute a Mexican whose rights were violated when he was tried and sentenced to death without Mexican officials being notified. [Page 8a


U.S. funding Ukraine politics

The United States has spent more than $65 million in the past two years to aid Ukrainian political organizations and helped underwrite exit polls that indicated opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko won last month's disputed election, U.S. officials say. [Page 11a

Sergeant pleads guilty to murder

An Army staff sergeant who said he shot a wounded, unarmed Iraqi teen to put him "out of his misery" pleaded guilty to murder yesterday in an agreement that guarantees a sentence of no more than 10 years. U.S. military prosecutors did not call any Iraqis to testify during the trial. [Page 12a


Audit finds evidence of favoritism

An unnamed manager at a State Highway Administration maintenance shop awarded $190,000 in projects to a single contractor in 2003 without written contracts, according to an audit released yesterday by the Office of Legislative Audits. Auditors have referred the matter for criminal investigation. [Page 1b

Black Baltimore, as Coppin sees it

Coppin State University unveiled yesterday The State of Black Baltimore, a 329-page collection of essays exploring issues such as the city's school system, drug abuse, Ebonics and alleged discrimination in the Police Department. The book is a collaboration between Coppin State and the Greater Urban League of Baltimore. [Page 1b


Pavano's price keeps rising

On a frustrating day at baseball's winter meetings, the Orioles raised their offer to free-agent pitcher Carl Pavano to about $40 million over four years but came to the realization that the bidding will go higher. The Orioles also offered first baseman Carlos Delgado $30 million over three years and continued to try to find a way to deal for Athletics pitcher Tim Hudson. [Page 1c

Late shot lifts Wizards, 106-104

Brendan Haywood atoned for two missed free throws by converting a three-point play off the Wizards' 27th offensive rebound with 7.1 seconds remaining, giving Washington a 106-104 victory over the visiting New York Knicks. [Page 4c

Terps lose in soccer semifinal

John Michael Hayden scored with 48 seconds left in the second overtime, leading second seed Indiana to a 3-2 victory over third seed Maryland in the semifinals of the NCAA College Cup. The Terrapins (17-6-2) had tied the game at 2 in the 81st minute. [Page 7c


Local housing market soars

The Baltimore area's housing market roared to new heights in November, with prices posting their largest year-over-year increase on record and fueling a year-end buying binge. The average sales price in the Baltimore area was $258,283 last month, up almost 25 percent over November 2003. [Page 1a

BGE warns of price rise

With natural gas supplies tight for the third straight year, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said yesterday that residential customers can expect to pay 15 percent to 20 percent more to heat their homes this winter than they did a year ago. The average customer will spend $700 to $725 for natural gas from Nov. 1 to March 31, compared with about $600 a year ago. [Page 12c


Black journalists to confront NBC

Saying it is "dismayed about comments attributed to Brian Williams," who replaced Tom Brokaw at NBC, the National Association of Black Journalists will meet today in New York with network officials to discuss the matter, according to NABJ leaders. Williams' comments on diversity were published in Hemispheres magazine. [Page 1d

Plenty of seats under the big tent

On the second Sunday of Advent, about 20 souls came for service at the First and St. Stephen's United Church of Christ in Towson. They belong to a denomination that launched a national advertising campaign with a message apparently so controversial -- we accept all worshipers -- that CBS and NBC refused to broadcast it. [Page 1d














QUOTE OF THE DAY "We take pride in pushing the envelope on social justice issues. It's an in-your-face ad, and I think it's great."

The Rev. Bruce Swanson, about the United Church of Christ ad TV networks rejected (Article, Page 1D)



Frederick N. Rasmussen bows out after today's column. For a collection of his "Way Back When" articles, go to


To read the special review of the State Highway Administration, go to

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