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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn and Ross Atkin / February 18, 2005



John Negroponte, currently the administration's top representative in Iraq, was named the first US national intelligence director. In announcing the appointment at the White House Thursday, President Bush said the former US ambassador to the UN will "make sure that those whose duty it is to defend America have the information we need to make the right decisions." The position was created at the suggestion of the special 9/11 commission, which advocated for a central authority to coordinate intelligence operations.

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Bush is scheduled to leave Sunday for Europe to begin the first overseas visit of his new term, a tour aimed at mending fences. He flies to Brussels, where he will meet with French President Jacques Chirac as well as European Union and NATO leaders at their respective headquarters. Later, he plans to stop in Germany for talks with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder before meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Slovakia.

Seeking to save tens of millions of dollars, the Federal Aviation Administration floated the idea of closing air-control towers at 48 midsize airports between midnight and 5 a.m. The air traffic controllers' union said Wednesday that closing the towers for any length of time "is just not safe." Pilots are always in voice contact with at least a regional tower, but controllers say it is important for them to see runway conditions in order to assist incoming flights.

All eight people aboard a small corporate jet owned by electronics retailer Circuit City Stores were killed Wednesday when the plane crashed while approaching Pueblo, Colo., in a freezing drizzle.

The Los Angeles Police Commission announced a revised policy on when an officer can shoot at a moving vehicle. The change, which requires an officer to be threatened with deadly force, stems from a Feb. 6 police chase in which a black 13-year-old was shot dead after backing the stolen vehicle he was driving into a police cruiser. The death of Devin Brown, whose funeral was held Tuesday, has sparked community protests.

The National Hockey League became the first major pro sports league in North America to cancel an entire season after hopes for ending its lengthy labor dispute were snuffed out Wednesday. Earlier in the week, both sides appeared ready to resolve their differences over a salary cap, which had already wiped out two-thirds of the season. The cancellation means there will be no Stanley Cup champion for the first time since 1919.

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