SUN NEWS DIGEST

THE BALTIMORE SUN

NATIONAL

Graner convicted of abuse

Army Spc. Charles A. Graner, portrayed as the ringleader in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, was convicted late yesterday of abusing detainees. He was one of seven low-ranking soldiers from the Western Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company to face charges in the scandal, and the first to contest them at trial. [Page 1a]

Report backs FBI whistleblower

Evidence and witnesses support the complaints of a fired FBI contract linguist who alleged shoddy work and possible espionage within the bureau's translator program after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, according to a report yesterday from the Justice Department's oversight official. [Page 3a]

No OTC sales for Mevacor

Federal health advisers recommended against over-the-counter sales of Mevacor, a cholesterol-lowering drug, saying that patients need medical guidance for treatment of a chronic condition that has no symptoms and could require medications for life. [Page 3a]

WORLD

Sharon cuts contacts with Abbas

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon cut off contact with new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday, a day after Palestinian militants stormed a Gaza border crossing and killed six Israelis. Abbas was elected a successor to Yasser Arafat on Sunday. [Page 1a]

North Korea agrees to negotiate

North Korea abruptly changed course yesterday, announcing that it would return to the negotiating table over its nuclear ambitions and stating that it would treat the United States "as a friend." However, analysts said that the years of mistrust between the United States and North Korea will be difficult to bridge. [Page 10a]

MARYLAND

Navy claims exemption from tax

The Navy might not pay the governor's new "flush tax" at its numerous facilities in Maryland - a move that could prompt all military installations and federal agencies in the state to do the same, creating a major funding shortfall for the legislation. Navy officials say they are exempt from such taxes. [Page 1a]

Fire destroys historic building

A five-alarm blaze tore through a Northwest Baltimore warehouse filled with foam picnic coolers yesterday, destroying a turreted turn-of-the-century building that once powered and stored city cable cars. No one was injured in the fire, which broke out about 12:30 p.m. in the Baltimore Traction Co. building at Druid Hill Avenue and Retreat Street. [Page 1b]

Tunnel fire's cause unknown

Federal investigators have concluded they don't know the cause of the 2001 train derailment and fire in Baltimore's Howard Street tunnel. The final report of the National Transportation Safety Board concludes that fire damage, flooding and recovery efforts destroyed evidence needed to determine why the CSX train derailed. [Page 1b]

SPORTS

Screening omits amphetamines

Major League Baseball's new drug-testing program doesn't include screening for amphetamines, but MLB's Chief Operating Officer Bob DuPuy said the sport will deal with them in due course. "While we discussed the current state of amphetamines, it was important to get the steroid agreement finalized," he said. [Page 1c]

Leinart returning to USC

Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart will be back for his senior season at Southern California and try to lead the Trojans to an unprecedented third straight national championship. The USC quarterback announced his decision yesterday, opting to complete his eligibility rather than enter the NFL draft. [Page 2c]

Wizards win sixth straight

Larry Hughes made a driving layup with 0.7 seconds remaining to lift Washington to a 105-103 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, putting the Wizards eight games over .500 for the first time since 1979. The victory gave the Wizards their first six-game winning streak in more than three years. [Page 4c]

BUSINESS

Grace revises bankruptcy plan

W.R. Grace & Co., the Columbia-based maker of specialty chemicals that is going through bankruptcy, said yesterday that it has revised its reorganization plan and won the support of two creditor committees. [Page 9c]

Wholesale prices plummet

Wholesale prices fell last month by the largest amount in 20 months, aided by a big decline in the cost of energy, and industrial production increased more than expected, making last year the busiest for factories, mines and utilities since 2000. [Page 9c]

TODAY

Wranglers of the dirt circuit

This weekend, when 50-odd top Arenacross motorcycle riders compete before sellout crowds at the 1st Mariner Arena, the event's unsung heroes might be the dirt crews who transform empty arenas into earth-filled motorcycle playgrounds. Every week between late October and early March, the crew turns 3 million pounds of dirt into a bike racer's paradise. [Page 1d]

For every American, a headstone

The image of bodies on the ocean's shores after the tsunamis is jarring because it flies in the face of our national instincts. Americans romanticize the individual, and this ideal outlives us: The marked grave is the American way of dealing with death. [Page 1D]

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"What are we supposed to do, sit back and play dead while they are conducting negotiations with Palestinian terrorist organizations?" Ranaan Gissin, aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (Article, Page 1A)

MARKETS

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TODAY ONLINE

WINTER'S RETURN

Yesterday's rain ushered low temperatures back into the region. Find the current conditions, forecast and Sun science writer Frank Roylance's blog at www.marylandweather.com

GENERAL ASSEMBLY Q&A;

The Sun's State House bureau chief, David Nitkin, answers readers' questions on the 2005 session. www.baltimoresun.com/politics

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