Kerik review defendedSenior administration officials defended the White House review of Bernard Kerik's background before his nomination as secretary of homeland security, saying in interviews that it had not been rushed. One official said that even controversial material uncovered in a weeklong review had not appeared to endanger Kerik's confirmation. [Page 3a


Ohio's electors to vote today

Ohio's delegation to the Electoral College is to meet today to cast ballots for president and vice president amid calls by activists to reject a Bush victory in the state even though Democratic nominee John Kerry has conceded. [Page 3a



Violence in Iraq

Militants killed a U.S. soldier and ambushed an Iraqi National Guard patrol in Baghdad yesterday, while separate attacks over the weekend left two Marines dead in the volatile province of Anbar, west of the capital. [Page 1a

Palestinian pulls out of race

Imprisoned Palestinian uprising leader Marwan Barghouti said he would throw his support to mainstream candidate Mahmoud Abbas in a Jan. 9 election to replace Yasser Arafat and drop out of the race. Meanwhile, Palestinian militants blew up an Israeli army base at the Gaza-Egypt crossing by sneaking more than a ton of explosives through a tunnel, killing four Israeli. [Page 8a

Ukraine poison probe reopened

Ukrainian prosecutors reopened their investigation into allegations Viktor A. Yushchenko was poisoned after doctors treating the opposition leader confirmed he had been slipped the toxic chemical dioxin. Returning home to campaign, Yushchenko said he did not want the poisoning issue to overshadow the Dec. 26 election. [Page 8a



NAACP defends corporate ties

Under the leadership of Kweisi Mfume, former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the organization increasingly forged relations with Wall Street and solicited untold millions of dollars from corporations. But some critics worry that the NAACP's heavy reliance on company donations has compromised its effectiveness as a pressure group, a view that NAACP officials reject. [Page 1a

Mo. juvenile justice sets example

Missouri's gentler approach to dealing with troubled teens has attracted attention from other states -including Maryland - that want to improve their juvenile justice systems. In Missouri's youth centers, offenders live in dorms, wear their own clothes and are supervised by college-educated counselors who are more like mentors than guards. The result: Far fewer of the juvenile offenders who go through Missouri's system go on to commit crimes that land them in adult prison than is the case elsewhere, studies show. [Page 1a

Plotting end of homelessness

Local service providers and advocates for the homeless in Baltimore are working to devise a plan to eradicate homelessness in the city within the next decade by increasing the number of affordable housing units and expanding drug treatment, mental health and job training services. They will be coordinating with state officials, who are preparing their own plan to eliminate homelessness in Maryland. [Page 1b



Scrooge about town

Scrooge - well, actor Richard Chamberlain, who'll play the title role in the musical Scrooge at the Hippodrome this week - was about town last week getting a taste of local holiday charm. On his first full day out and about, Chamberlain stopped by Cafe Hon for meatloaf and apple pie and paid a visit to Bawlamer's own Miracle on West 34th Street. [Page 1c

A concert of soul hits, misses

Collectively billed as the "Ladies of Soul," veteran performers Melba Moore, Jennifer Holliday, Regina Belle and Stephanie Mills put their gospel-based vocal artistry on display Saturday at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall to benefit the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture. Two enthrallingly pulled it off, while the other two mostly faltered. [Page 1c

Hello! not saying good-bye to cash


The celebrity magazine Hello! plans to appeal a court ruling ordering it to pay more than $1.9 million to a rival for printing unauthorized photos of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, a lawyer for the magazine said. [Page 2c


Terps rout UNC-Asheville

No. 23 Maryland scored the first eight points of the second half on the way to a 96-72 men's basketball victory over North Carolina-Asheville at Comcast Center. Five Terps scored in double figures, led by junior John Gilchrist's 22 points. [Page 1d

Manchester protest planned

Some supporters of soccer team Manchester United are planning to protest Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer's attempt to buy controlling interest of the team. They are expected to demonstrate their feelings on the matter at advertising executive Bob Leffler's annual Christmas party this week. [Page 1d



Ravens roll over Giants

Quarterback Kyle Boller threw a career-high four touchdown passes as the Ravens defeated the New York Giants, 37-14, at M&T; Bank Stadium. Giants quarterback Eli Manning was 4-for-18 for 27 yards and two interceptions before he was pulled in the fourth quarter. [Page 1e



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