Troops seek kidnapped Iraqis


Iraqi forces backed by U.S. helicopters swept through a Shiite slum in the capital yesterday, searching for Iraqis seized in kidnappings that have shaken confidence in Iraq's government and security forces. Search efforts were also under way in southern Iraq for four Americans and an Austrian seized Thursday. pg 20a

Deputy calls for assassinations


Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's deputy prime minister, said yesterday that Israel should assassinate Hamas leaders, ignore the moderate Palestinian president and walk away from international peace efforts, the latest in a string of hard-line positions voiced by the newest member of the Cabinet. pg 21a


Opposition to slots persists

Powerful economic and political interests have rekindled their campaign for Maryland to join its neighboring states in legalizing slots. But an analysis of election results shows that the incoming General Assembly is no more likely to adopt a slots plan than its predecessor. pg 1a

A race in Mfume's shadow

He has no campaign organization, little money and - given circumstances largely outside his control - no job, but many political experts believe that Kweisi Mfume is holding all the cards in Baltimore's mayoral race and that the mere possibility of his candidacy is making waves. pg 1b


Democrats target tax breaks


House Democrats are targeting billions of dollars in oil company tax breaks for quick repeal next year. A broader energy proposal that would boost alternative energy sources and conservation is expected to be put off until later. pg 3a

HMOs losing ground

Health maintenance organizations, known for their low-cost medical care, were all the rage 10 years ago. Now consumers are bailing out of HMOs in record numbers as their costs have risen faster than high-deductible plans that offer more choices. pg 5a


Southwest an upstart no more

To lure customers, Southwest Airlines is considering changing practices that have made the discounter unique, such as open seating. But Southwest wants to appeal to more people without losing the die-hard supporters who have helped it rise from underdog to industry trendsetter. pg 1c



UM falls to Boston College

Boston College returned three Maryland turnovers - two fumbles and an interception - for touchdowns en route to a 38-16 victory that ended the Terps' five-game winning streak. PG 1d


Director stirs up Peabody

During the Peabody Conservatory's 150th-anniversary year, new director Jeff Sharkey plans to provide free admission to nearly all Peabody performances. He also has something up his sleeve with the BSO's Marin Alsop. pg 1e



Housewarming for Washington

What's officially called George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens unveiled a major change of mission last month. Multimedia, storyboards and artifacts are all intended to liberate Washington from his frozen-figure status. pg 1r