Thursday Briefing

EDITORS' CHOICE: When Chris Brown, a former Crenshaw High baseball star and teammate of Darryl Strawberry, died of injuries suffered in a house fire, it was the end of a life marked by unfulfilled athletic promise and three tours as a truck driver in Iraq. Sports, D1


The World

Islamists lose ground in Somalia

The assault by Ethiopia on behalf of Somalia's government has caused the Islamic militia to lose nearly all the territory it seized recently. But can the weak transitional government establish authority without Ethiopian troop support? Page A1


Hussein's sentence

Iraqi officials say Saddam Hussein will be executed before a private group of select witnesses so as not to incite sectarian tension, although victims of his crimes demand a public hanging. In a letter, Hussein urges Iraqis not to give in to hatred. Page A4


The Nation

Capital prepares to honor Ford

Tributes to Gerald R. Ford pour in as the nation's capital prepares to honor the life and brief, but critical, tenure of the 38th president, who died Tuesday. Page A1


A city energized

While most of America bemoans the high cost of oil and gas, residents of Houston, where two of every five people owe their jobs to energy, enjoy renewed prosperity. Page A1


New crisis training

To facilitate the transition of an insular organization into a modern network, the FBI sends agents and supervisors to management school at Northwestern to learn how to meet the nation's new security needs. Page A17



This president was a regular guy

Unlike other former presidents, Gerald Ford embraced retirement. But he also worked for local causes in his adoptive hometowns in the California desert and the mountains of Colorado. Page A1


Prepaid pass

No bills, no coins, no clue? No problem, once the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority finishes testing its universal fare system. Within two years, transit users will use a smart card for all their train and bus needs. Page B3


Deputy harassed?

The L.A. County sheriff's deputy who arrested Mel Gibson on suspicion of drunk driving six months ago says he is being harassed by officials who question if he is the person responsible for leaking a report of the actor's anti-Semitic rant to a celebrity news website. Page B1



Women face retirement risks

High divorce rates, interrupted work years and longer lives contribute to the threat that retirement for upwardly mobile women of the baby boom generation will represent a sharp decline in lifestyle. Page A1


Your ad not here

A "storescape" ad that shrink-wraps a whole building must be removed because of a city ban on "super-graphic" signage. Page C1



Bruins swamped by Florida State

The Seminoles score on a blocked punt and an interception in the second half to defeat UCLA, 44-27, at the Emerald Bowl. Page D1


Lakers top Magic

The Lakers hand Orlando its third consecutive loss as Smush Parker scores a season-high 20 and Kobe Bryant contributes 27 in the 106-93 win. Page D1


Cougar sighting

The UCLA men's basketball team opens conference play tonight at Pauley Pavilion against Washington State, which in preseason posturing was pegged to finish last in the Pac 10. But with an 11-1 record against UCLA's 11-0, the Cougars are expected to be competitive. Page D3



Celebrate a season of tranquillity

The Southern California climate bestows a gift especially for folks still in the grip of holiday stress: Here are four landmark residences whose public gardens offer a peaceful embrace. Page F1


Red underwear?

If old attempts at New Year's resolutions have failed, try some unusual home rituals. Page F1


Calendar Weekend

Ring in 2007

Show promoters haven't forgotten the rain-induced problems of last year, so on offer are several cool ways to welcome 2007, only this year with better contingency planning. Page E30

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