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Scintillatingly Sinful

Ask a handful of adults to go on the record and name the most useless, inane, or downright stupid holiday gift they ever received and virtually all will invoke their constitutionally guaranteed right to remain silent.<@SM><@SM><TAB>The reason for anonymity, of course, is that invariably such a gift originated with a spouse -- at least in the case of those still married and wishing to remain married to that particular individual -- or from a still-living in-law.

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Settlements Offered in Some School-Shooting Lawsuits

<TAB>The parents of the Columbine High School gunmen and one of the people who supplied them with weapons have offered a $1.6 million settlement to dozens of victims and their families.<@SM><@SM><TAB>The money, apparently to come from homeowners insurance policies, could be divided among as many as 37 families of those killed or injured in the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

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The Bookcase: Holiday Book Inspired by Grandmother’s Memorable Christmas

After the initial run in local bookstores last holiday season of “The Golden Ring,” Maryland author and businessman John Snyder is anticipating even stronger sales this year for his novel.<@SM><@SM>[IMGCAP(1)]<TAB>Snyder published 5,000 copies of the Christmas novel last year, just in time for the holidays. This season, Snyder increased the number to 32,000. And he is taking his book nationwide.<@SM><@SM> <TAB>“My reason for getting it out last year,” he said, “was the story was inspired by my Grandmother and she was getting up in years. I wanted to make sure she got to see it. I’m glad I did that because literally days after I gave her the copy, she passed away.”

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Election Drama Brings Out Nation’s Top Lawyers, and the Lawyer Bashers

<TAB>The public face of the White House battle has changed — from dimpled ballots and tense recounts to legions of lawyers and dozens of lawsuits. Just as the nation’s patience is wearing thin, the case is in the hands of a profession that America loves to hate.

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Big Rigs Pose Big Parking Concerns

<TAB>The Baltimore County Council may consider legislation next year to make it easier for the county to keep commercial vehicles out of residential neighborhoods.<@SM><@SM><TAB>The council requested the Office of Planning to come up with proposed changes that would make it easier to enforce those ordinances, partly by making the current provisions uniform.

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NEWS SUMMARY

Ciena DropsShares of telecommunications equipment maker Ciena Corp. dropped to $71 yesterday as investors fretted about possible financial problems at a large European customer and the possibility of lower sales to Sprint Corp. The stock is up more than 154 ...

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Construction Insurance Scam Leads to Fraud Conviction

<TAB>A Howard County man was convicted of forgery and insurance fraud after he created a phony company to issue performance and payment bonds for construction projects in College Park and Washington, D.C.<@SM><@SM><TAB>Paul Eugene McMahon, of Glenelg, faces up to five years in prison, with all but one year suspended, under the terms of a plea agreement reached Tuesday in Howard County Circuit Court, according to the <b><a href="http://www.oag.state.md.us" target="_blank">Maryland Attorney General

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Grapevine: Jefferson’s Favorite, The ‘King of Wines’

This wine brings you four values: it's a good wine; at a reasonable cost; from a great vintage; and it was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson's during his retirement years.<@SM><@SM><TAB>Vino Nobile di Montepulciano comes from vineyards surrounding the ancient hilltop town of Montepulciano located about 40 miles south of Sienna in southern Tuscany.

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