School systems improve on testAll Maryland school systems scored higher this year on a state test designed to force schools to meet stiff federal standards - the second year in a row of gains. Despite generally positive news, hundreds of schools could learn soon whether they've been labeled as failing and face sanctions because they are not improving fast enough. [Page 1a]

Violent crime up in Baltimore

Violent crime in Baltimore increased last year for the first time since 1999, according to FBI statistics that surprised even the police commissioner. The 4 percent increase over 2003 left city officials scrambling to explain it and opens the door for opponents to criticize the mayor, said politicians and political scientists. [Page 1a]

Trial in killing of children to start

The trial of two Mexican immigrants accused of slashing the throats of three children is scheduled to begin today, and once a jury is seated, prosecutors and defense attorneys will present different versions of what happened last year in the killings in a Northwest Baltimore apartment. [Page 1b]


Senate ends filibuster over judge

The Senate ended the filibuster of California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown when 10 Democrats crossed party lines and voted to close debate, clearing the way for a confirmation vote today on her nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. [Page 3a]

Tobacco-company penalties sought

Federal prosecutors asked a judge overseeing a racketeering case against major cigarette makers to impose penalties on the companies, including a nationwide stop-smoking program and restrictions on marketing. [Page 3a]

Defense officials apologize to panel

Contrite senior defense officials offered apologies and suggested procurement reforms to a Senate committee after a new report said the Pentagon violated federal procedures in pursuing a $23.5 billion contract to lease aerial refueling tankers from Boeing Co. [Page 3a]


North Korea is to return to talks

The Bush administration said that it had convinced North Korea to return to the six-nation talks on its nuclear weapons program. China's U.N. ambassador said he expected talks to resume in a few weeks in Beijing. [Page 8a]

Manipulation of Iraq data denied

Pressed by reporters about a British memo, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair denied any manipulation of intelligence before the start of the Iraq war. Meeting at the White House, the leaders also said they were nearing agreement on a debt-relief plan for African nations. [Page 9a]


Celebration of the wedding dress

About 60 bride-have-beens gathered at Baltimore's Engineers Club for a wedding-dress tea, an occasion that organizers said might have been the first of its kind. Those who could find - and fit - into their wedding dresses did; those who could not brought snapshots. Women wed in every decade from the 1940s on were in attendance. [Page 1a]

Anne Bancroft dies of cancer

Anne Bancroft, who won the 1962 best actress Oscar as the teacher of a young Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker but achieved greater fame as the seductive Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, died Monday in New York of cancer. She was 73. [Page 1c]


GM plans to cut 25,000 jobs

General Motors Corp., a symbol of industrial might a half-century ago when it became the first U.S. company to make $1 billion in a year, revealed plans yesterday to cut 25,000 jobs after losing more than $1 billion in the first quarter of this year. The layoffs, announced at GM's annual meeting, are part of a plan to save $2.5 billion. [Page 1a]

Missing data indicative of the age

When CitiFinancial, the Baltimore-based division of Citigroup Inc., put a box of computer tapes that documented financial habits of its customers on a UPS truck, the shipment represented a routine step in the nation's credit system. When the box went missing, the incident became another example of consumer and corporate exposure in the information age. [Page 1a]

Airline executives get scolding

Airline executives, hoping that Congress would offer their industry help with its pension burdens, instead got a scolding for making extravagant benefit promises to employees without adequately funding them. [Page 1d]


O's blow 5-run lead, lose, 6-5

Jorge Julio gave up a game-tying three-run home run to Daryle Ward and a go-ahead homer to Jack Wilson, both in the bottom of the eighth inning, as the Orioles squandered a five-run lead and lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-5. The Orioles got two home runs from Sal Fasano and one each from Sammy Sosa and Melvin Mora. [Page 1e]

Sanders' medical OK in doubt

Appearing more doubtful than bold, seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback Deion Sanders said he will learn today whether he'll receive medical clearance to rejoin the Ravens. [Page 1e]

Orioles draft catcher, Erbe

The Orioles select Brandon Snyder, a high school catcher from Centreville, Va., with the 13th pick in the amateur draft and choose right-handed pitcher Brandon Erbe of McDonogh in the third round. [Page 5e]


Body art arrives in the workplace

Companies and workplace experts warn against it, but body art is making more frequent appearances among workers as the practice has become popular and corporate policies have become more relaxed. [Page 1k]


As body art becomes more prevalent in mainstream culture, employers and employees find the rules in the office changing.


Check the Maryland State Department of Education's annual school assessment numbers.


"The Rehnquist court has brought the law of states' rights to the threshold of an open door - but it hasn't stepped through the door."

Mark V. Tushnet, a constitutional law professor at Georgetown University (Article, Page 1A)



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