Contreras agrees to $32 million, four-year contract
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees' need to cut payroll ends at the U.S. border.

Contreras agrees to $32 million, four-year contract

Pinatas prove to be problem inside the house

Consumer spending rises slightly in November

Stores attract shoppers with longer hours, discounts
NEW YORK -- Retailers who have watched with dismay as the pre-Christmas rush hasn't produced big bucks are now hoping customers will show up in the next few days - or soon after the holiday season.

Report hurts stocks in shortened session
NEW YORK - A tepid durable-goods report pressured Wall Street on Tuesday, sending stocks modestly lower as investors already nervous about holiday sales saw little hope of a strengthening economy anytime soon.

Stores prepare for return rush
Although today ushers in a final push of last-minute gift buyers, it doesn't mean retailers expect things to slow down when they reopen Thursday.

Business briefs
NEW YORK - A consumer group sued Pharmacia Corp. over its promotion of the pain drug Bextra, alleging that the pharmaceutical company is circumventing federal marketing regulations.

Business briefs
NEW YORK - Citigroup became the first financial institution to quantify its potential damages from a massive settlement with securities regulators, saying Monday that it will take a charge of $1.5 billion against its fourth-quarter earnings.

Stores attract shoppers with longer hours, discounts

Stocks show little direction in holiday week trading

Business briefs

Government report praises IRS performance in 2002
WASHINGTON -- The Internal Revenue Service did a good job handling tax returns and refunds this year despite complications caused by tax law changes and the terrorist and anthrax attacks, a report commissioned by Congress finds.

Stores prepare for return rush

Wall Street strategists divided on market direction in 2003
NEW YORK -- Stocks will go up in 2003. Or is it down? How about nowhere?

Report hurts stocks in shortened session

Consumer spending rises slightly in November
WASHINGTON -- Early bird holiday shopping helped to lift consumer spending in November by the largest amount in four months. That, plus solid income growth, underscored economists' belief that consumers will keep spending, supporting the economic recovery.

Stocks show little direction in holiday week trading
NEW YORK -- Stocks closed mixed in quiet pre-holiday trading Monday as mildly encouraging economic news helped offset retailers' reports of disappointing sales.

Wall Street strategists divided on market direction in 2003

Tigers shaken by loss

Tangerine Bowl notebook
ORLANDO, Fla. - To watch Clemson struggle through the first half of Monday's 55-15 loss to Texas Tech in the Tangerine Bowl required a strong stomach and gallons of Maalox.

Tigers shaken by loss
ORLANDO, Fla. - Say this, at least, for Clemson: The Tigers had a nice week of warm weather and sunshine in preparation for Monday's Tangerine Bowl.

Tangerine Bowl notebook

Quarterback leads Texas Tech rout

Quarterback leads Texas Tech rout
ORLANDO, Fla. - Tommy Bowden sighed after Monday's Tangerine Bowl, his holidays officially ruined.

Tire Bowl exceeding Charlotte's expectations

Tire Bowl exceeding Charlotte's expectations
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Traffic is bad, a hotel room can't be found within a 20-mile radius and a ticket to the Tire Bowl is almost impossible to find.

Confident Bruins meet Lobos in Las Vegas Bowl
LAS VEGAS - UCLA can't imagine losing to New Mexico, a team playing in a bowl game for just the second time in 41 years.

Tulane faces high-flying Hawaii in inaugural Hawaii Bowl

Confident Bruins meet Lobos in Las Vegas Bowl

Tulane faces high-flying Hawaii in inaugural Hawaii Bowl
HONOLULU -- Tulane coach Chris Scelfo has watched enough tapes on Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense to know that his team has a tough task on Christmas.

Charles Fraser

A message of eternal hope

The Christmas story

Workers watch for more than waste
Joyce Lynne of Augusta has been busy this holiday season. So busy that she forgot to put her trash can by the curb for more than a week.

Small portions
Your diet doesn't have to go to pot just because you attend the office potluck and other holiday celebrations.

'Two Towers' rings up $102 million haul in first five days
LOS ANGELES -- Hobbits are lords of the box office again. "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" took in $62 million in its opening weekend and $102 million since debuting last Wednesday.

In the know
The 2000 Carmenet Dynamite Merlot from California is a delicious $24 wine with a nose full of big dark fruit. The finish lingers on the palate waiting for the next sip. This is not for a light meal. The wine's flavors pair exceptionally well with grilled lamb or a plump filet mignon. A delicious bearnaise sauce with a tarragon reduction will complement this wine well, and a final menu idea is Stilton cheese with fresh strawberries.

Check store policy before taking gifts back
At one time or another, everyone has gotten that hideous sweater from Aunt Hilda for Christmas.

Cabbage is classic in soup
I spend several hours every New Year's Day preparing our traditional feast: Hungarian Cabbage Rolls. Though I don't mind the work once a year, I've created my Unrolled Cabbage Soup to quickly satisfy my craving for the dish.

Barbie gets hipper, trendier to fight the competition
NEW YORK -- Forget pink ballgowns and feather boas. This Barbie's got attitude.

At the Movies: 'Catch Me If You Can'
Steven Spielberg's "Catch Me If You Can" is slick and stylish - the year's most flat-out fun movie, and one of its best.

"Survivor" finale leads CBS to easy victory in the ratings
NEW YORK -- It's no longer a phenomenon, but "Survivor" has turned into a very dependable performer for CBS.

In the know
A little girl uses a wish to aid her struggling songwriter father in Fox's Santa Baby, which airs Tuesday at 8 on WFXG-TV (Channel 54). Gregory Hines, Patti LaBelle and Vanessa Williams provide the voices.

Europe cashing in on Cup

Masters invitations in the mail to 87 players

Masters invitations in the mail to 87 players
The final world golf ranking of the year was published Monday and set in motion a holiday tradition like no other: Masters invitations are in the mail.

Europe cashing in on Cup
You'd think the glow of victory, a handsome gold trophy, nonstop parties, bragging rights for two years and a tidy little profit of about $13 million would be enough to keep Europe's Ryder Cup hosts happy for a few months more.

Georgia all-area coach of the year: Felix Curry

Ga. prep poll

Awards banquet

Independent all-area coach of the year: Bert Brown

Independent all-area list

South Carolina all-area list

Georgia all-star list

Prep basketball scores

Georgia all-area coach of the year: Felix Curry
Glenn Hills was coming off an 0-10 season - and a 1-39 record over the past four years - and hadn't been to the playoffs since 1984.

South Carolina all-area list
This is a list of the South Carolina all-star players.

Georgia all-star list
This is a list of the Georgia all-star players.

Ga. prep poll
Here is the final Associated Press high school football poll for Georgia, with first-place votes in parentheses, record and total points:

Independent all-area list
This is a list of the Independent all-star players.

South Carolina coach of the year: Dan Pippin
For South Aiken coach Dan Pippin, the win-loss record from this season was fine - even impressive for a team that was mired in a 29-game losing streak just three years ago.

Independent all-area player of the year: Kevin Molony
When Kevin Molony went down with a torn ACL last season, his world imploded.

Awards banquet
The Augusta Chronicle 2002 All-Area Football Team awards banquet will be Jan. 16 at the Sheraton Augusta Hotel.

Independent all-area coach of the year: Bert Brown
Brentwood needed a spark. The Eagles went 0-10 in 1999, and new coach Bert Brown needed something to get his team moving in the right direction.

Georgia all-area player of the year: J.K. Sabb
J.K. Sabb was tired, so tired it didn't look like he could complete his wobbling run from the sideline to the huddle.

South Carolina all-area player of the year: Rashad Hunter
Give an average running back 450 carries in a season, and he's bound to get injured.

Thrashers recall goalie from AHL

Thrashers recall goalie from AHL
TORONTO -- The Atlanta Thrashers have recalled goaltender Milan Hnilicka from Chicago of the AHL.

Pinatas prove to be problem inside the house
In our family, we remember it as the Christmas of the Pinata.

'Yes, Virginia ...'

Holiday season a joyless one for Augusta city workers

Broad Street: Our own 'Pottersville'

Peacemaker correlates with Christmas

Celebrate season by helping homeless

Readers restore his faith in people with bicycle saga

Urges readers to let peace begin in 2003

What faith is Bush celebrating?

In the know

Barbie gets hipper, trendier to fight the competition

Workers watch for more than waste

Small portions

Check store policy before taking gifts back

At the Movies: 'Catch Me If You Can'

"Survivor" finale leads CBS to easy victory in the ratings

Cabbage is classic in soup

'Two Towers' rings up $102 million haul in first five days

Szwez getting his head, body back into the game
After missing the past three weeks with post-concussion syndrome, rookie forward Jeff Szwez is scheduled to return to the lineup Thursday at Columbia.

Szwez getting his head, body back into the game

Five Questions with Jim Shepherd
What was your greatest moment in hockey? A: Winning the Turner Cup with the Houston Aeros (of the International Hockey League in 1997).

Five Questions with Jim Shepherd

Across the Southeast
LAFAYETTE, La. -The serial killer tied to the deaths of three women near Baton Rouge struck again in the Lafayette area last month, authorities said Monday.

Makeup artist offers magic touch
AIKEN - Four seventh-grade girls said they felt like princesses Monday as they experienced what it was like to be pampered Hollywood movie stars.

Across the Southeast

Rants and raves
HIS IS A rave for J.K. Sabb, No. 5 for the Lucy Laney Wildcats. Thanks for four great years and congratulations to coach Eric Parker on a great season.

A special cut

News you can use
BACK IN TIME DEC. 25, 1964 Historic treasures continue to flow into Augusta's Mackay House on Broad Street. The latest acquisition is an original pianoforte.

Command trio share experience once more
KUWAITI DESERT - One could call them the three amigos.

Churches prepare meal
AIKEN - There are boxes of rolls, slices of pie and cans of green beans.

Georgia's Bethlehem is growing
BETHLEHEM, Ga. - Robert Holman no longer feels as though he lives in the little town of Bethlehem.

Flooding from storm moves meal for needy
Santa Claus may defy snow and ice and narrow chimneys, but he couldn't take the flooding Tuesday at The Master's Table soup kitchen. Reddish, foul-smelling water that surged over the sidewalk and flooded the courtyard also caused a sewage backup that canceled lunch and a visit from St. Nick.

A special cut
Morris Durden wears his Santa Claus suit while giving Henry Thomas a haircut Tuesday morning at his barber shop off Monte Sano Ave.

Today's activities and events
Activities and entertainment events scheduled for today include:

Across the area
Authorities said wet roads were to blame for a fatality Tuesday morning on Interstate 20 in Warren County.

Churches prepare meal

Funds will speed project
Washington Road's waistline will be growing a little sooner than expected in Columbia County after a recent serving of greens - dollar bills, that is.

News you can use
BACK IN TIME DEC. 24, 1952 Augusta City Council's Finance Committee voted yesterday to come to the rescue of University Hospital by turning over to the hospital $37,916 remaining in the city's 1952 appropriation for indigent care and recommending approval of a $275,000 bank loan to pay off past-due debts.

News you can use

Across the area
A Fort Gordon soldier is under investigation by military police after he reported an assault but had injuries that appeared to be self-inflicted, Richmond County authorities said.

Police find suspects in holdup
Police had three men in custody Monday night after a morning holdup at Augusta VAH Federal Credit Union on Augusta West Parkway.

Campaign enjoys record-breaking success

New Year's Eve service
New Life Worship Center will hold a New Year's Eve service at 10 p.m. Tuesday at the church, 3550 Morgan Road, Hephzibah.

New Year's Eve service

Subscriber of the day
Sandra Blount is today's subscriber of the day.

Parents face cruelty charge
Investigator Dan Carrier said it was unlike any child cruelty case he's ever seen - a discovery of two young girls living in a house "in shambles."

Program offered
A weight-management program, A Taste for Life, teaches how to live a balanced, healthy life from a Christian perspective.

Christmas Day jackpot grows to $280 million
COLUMBIA - South Carolina lottery officials said Monday they expect more record ticket sales as the Christmas Day Powerball jackpot reaches an estimated $280 million.

Merry Christmas
At St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Augusta, Juan Manuel Migone, 6, (left) and Katie Quinn, 8, portray Joseph and Mary as part of a reenactment of Joseph's and Mary's biblical search for an inn just before Jesus was born.

New drug may help patients' motion
It might be writing his name or just walking in a straight line down the hallway. After 16 years of living with Parkinson's disease, Mike Lummen has learned to adjust and appreciate what he can do.

Across the Southeast

Across South Carolina
CHARLESTON - A Dorchester County man has been charged with sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl while holding her and three other boys hostage inside his home for two hours, authorities say.

Forecasters predict rain will miss Christmas Day

Campaign enjoys record-breaking success
Many families in the area will have a happier Christmas thanks to contributors to the Empty Stocking Fund.

As temperatures drop, fire risk increases

Couple sets season alight
The Housemans say their electricity bill does not go up that much during the weeks they have their Christmas display out.

Across the area

Police charge man with faking lottery win
Police say an unlucky Augusta man tried to change his fortune by gluing two losing lottery tickets together and turning them in as a winner at a local convenience store.

Funds will speed project

Police find suspects in holdup

Rants and raves
A MIGHTY RAVE for the thoughtful customer who spotted and retrieved my loaded purse, left inadvertently in a buggy in a parking lot outside the North Augusta Winn-Dixie. The loss was not discovered until I arrived home. I had plenty of time to ruminate over the difficulties I had caused myself. Thank you, thank you, thank you. May the blessings of Christmas settle on you and your family.

Across South Carolina

Holiday closings

Commissioners criticize Kolb

Forecasters predict rain will miss Christmas Day
After a drizzle-filled Christmas Eve, Christmas Day might be a little drier. But it won't be white.

Merry Christmas

Teacher is Santa for sick children
DOUGLAS, Ga. - Some believe Santa Claus lives at the North Pole, but not the patients and staff at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.

Across Georgia

Burglars steal child's Christmas
Burglars kicked in the door of an Augusta home on Christmas Eve, binding the man who lived there and stealing all of his daughter's gifts from under the Christmas tree, authorities said.

Teacher is Santa for sick children

Subscriber of the day

Across the Southeast
ORLANDO, Fla. -Three student employees at the Johnson Space Center in Houston have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to steal moon rocks collected by Apollo astronauts.

Dancing and ringing

Subscriber of the day
Eloise Porter of Augusta is today's subscriber of the day.

News you can use

Across South Carolina
GREENVILLE - A man robbing a day care center put a gun to a 6-year-old boy's head, deputies say.

Across the area

Across Georgia
ATLANTA - An inmate who escaped from the Fulton County jail was captured Tuesday at a motel in Jackson, Tenn., after five days on the run.

Rants and raves
HIS IS A rave for J.K. Sabb, No. 5 for the Lucy Laney Wildcats. Thanks for four great years and congratulations to coach Eric Parker on a great season.

Program offered

Across Georgia
DOUGLASVILLE - A woman and two young brothers were killed Sunday night in a car-truck wreck on Interstate 20 in Douglas County.

Holiday closings
The following holiday schedules have been announced for Christmas and New Year's:

As temperatures drop, fire risk increases
Rose Hunter had no idea her world was being turned upside down this month while she was out shopping for a telephone.

Georgia's Bethlehem is growing

Subscriber of the day

New drug may help patients' motion

Dancing and ringing
Salvation Army bell ringer Joyce Ross dances around in front of Wal-Mart on Deans Bridge Road. Ms. Ross was at the store collecting donations for the charity Monday afternoon.

Police charge man with faking lottery win

Commissioners criticize Kolb
Augusta City Administrator George Kolb was on the hot seat Monday when some commissioners criticized his response to their order to help end an impasse between the city's primary ambulance contractor, Rural/Metro Ambulance, and its competitor, Gold Cross Ambulance, over mutual aid.

Norwood praises cadets at lunch
Current, former and future military leaders attended the annual Military Academy Special Christmas Luncheon held Monday by U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood.

Lottery prize sparks spree
Shoppers were scurrying to stores Tuesday in hopes of finding the perfect last-minute Christmas gift - the ticket that could win them the $280 million Powerball jackpot.

Christmas Day jackpot grows to $280 million

Family problems keep grandmother from buying gifts
A Harlem mother and grandmother wants to make Christmas special for her family.

France family calls shots for NASCAR
Stock car racing has made huge strides from its beginnings on the sands of Daytona Beach, squeezing in alongside football, baseball and basketball as one of the nation's sporting passions.

France family calls shots for NASCAR

Davis placed on injured list with torn Achilles tendon

Young Suns rely on defense for surprising start

Pacers top Hawks
INDIANAPOLIS -- Al Harrington scored a career-high 40 points, Brad Miller added 22 points and 11 rebounds and Ron Artest had 24 points as the Indiana Pacers beat the Atlanta Hawks 112-97 Monday night to become the first Eastern Conference team with 20 wins.

Young Suns rely on defense for surprising start
PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns were supposed to be one of the worst teams in the NBA, easy fodder for foes in the tough Western Conference.

Davis placed on injured list with torn Achilles tendon
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Hawks put guard Emanual Davis on the injured list Monday, two days after he tore his right Achilles tendon against Philadelphia.

Pacers top Hawks

Davis might be suspended
INDIANAPOLIS - The Big Ten asked Indiana to suspend basketball coach Mike Davis for his outburst at the end of last weekend's game against Kentucky.

AFC playoff spots still up for grabs

Second concussion could sideline Christian permanently

Civil rights group likes NFL diversity statement, wants stiffer penalties

Sanders won't be joining Raiders

Steelers clinch AFC North championship

Buchanan, Bolden hope to be healthy for Cleveland

Mrs. Christine Sproule    (AUGUSTA, Ga.)
Mr. Billy Harrison    (AUGUSTA, Ga.)
Rev. John Brown    (TRENTON, S.C.)
Ms. Emily Kaney    (WINDSOR, S.C.)
Mrs. Rosalia Holcomb    (AUGUSTA, Ga.)
Ms. Tonia Jones    (STATESBORO, Ga.)
Mrs. Ophelia Abney    (NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.)
Mr. Neal Jones Jr.    (AUGUSTA, Ga.)
Mrs. Sherry McCall    (NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.)
Mrs. Elester Jones    (NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.)
Mrs. Elizabeth Hampton    (AUGUSTA, Ga.)
Mr. Nathan Hutto    (GRANITEVILLE, S.C.)
Mrs. Kathryn Guillebeau    (ATLANTA, Ga.)
Mrs. Rosalia Holcomb    (AUGUSTA, Ga.)
Mrs. Laura Wittschen-Brown    (SULLIVANS ISLAND, S.C.)
Mrs. Charlotte Mance    (TRENTON, S.C.)
Mrs. Sara Palmer    (AUGUSTA, Ga.)
Mrs. Gwendoline Martin    (WASHINGTON, Ga.)
Mrs. Elizabeth Medlock    (AIKEN, S.C.)
Mrs. Sherry McCall    (NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.)
Mrs. Judith Maguire    (AUGUSTA, Ga.)
Mrs. Sara Palmer    (AUGUSTA, Ga.)
Mr. David Haltiwanger    (WEST COLUMBIA, S.C.)
Mrs. Thelma Robbins    (DENMARK, S.C.)
Mr. Billy Harrison    (AUGUSTA, Ga.)
Mr. Kenneth Walker    (COLUMBIA, S.C.)
Mrs. Hazel How    (BLACKVILLE, S.C.)
Featured obituary: John Brown
Architect John Brown was well known in the area for his experience in designing buildings, and friends and family say he could just see beautiful things.

Mr. Nathan Hutto    (GRANITEVILLE, S.C.)
Mr. Joe Davis    (HEPHZIBAH, Ga.)
Mrs. Nellie Rhoades    (AUGUSTA, Ga.)
Mr. James Elam    (BELVEDERE, S.C.)
Mrs. Sarah Wright    (AUGUSTA, Ga.)
Ms. Shirley Walker    (WARRENTON, Ga.)
Mrs. Louise Plunkett    (AIKEN, S.C.)
Mr. Reginald Watkins    (ALEXANDER, Ga.)
Mr. Louis Mozone Jr.    (AIKEN, S.C.)
Mrs. Beatrice Courtney    (EVANS, Ga.)
Rev. John Brown    (TRENTON, S.C.)
Mrs. Ophelia Abney    (NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.)
Mr. Alfred Bryant    (AUGUSTA, Ga.)
Mrs. Sarah Wright    (AUGUSTA, Ga.)
Mrs. Charlotte Mance    (TRENTON, S.C.)
Mr. Kenneth Walker    (COLUMBIA, S.C.)
Mrs. Eva Landrum    (EDGEFIELD, S.C.)
Mr. George Bishop Jr.    (WARRENVILLE, S.C.)
Mr. Junior Gilbert    (AUGUSTA, Ga.)
Mr. Edwin Coleman    (WRIGHTSVILLE, Ga.)
Mr. James Elam    (BELVEDERE, S.C.)
Mr. Neal Amason    (LINCOLNTON, Ga.)
Mrs. Ruby Elliott    (AIKEN, S.C.)
Mr. George Bishop Jr.    (WARRENVILLE, S.C.)
Rev. John Brown    (TRENTON, S.C.)
Mrs. Sarah Wright (AUGUSTA, Ga.)

Mrs. Eva Landrum (EDGEFIELD, S.C.)

Mr. Nathan Hutto (GRANITEVILLE, S.C.)

Rev. John Brown (TRENTON, S.C.)

Mrs. Beatrice Courtney (EVANS, Ga.)

Mr. Junior Gilbert (AUGUSTA, Ga.)

Mrs. Gwendoline Martin (WASHINGTON, Ga.)

Mr. Billy Harrison (AUGUSTA, Ga.)

Mrs. Ruby Elliott (AIKEN, S.C.)

Mrs. Christine Sproule (AUGUSTA, Ga.)

Mrs. Thelma Robbins (DENMARK, S.C.)

Mrs. Hazel How (BLACKVILLE, S.C.)

Mrs. Sara Palmer (AUGUSTA, Ga.)

Mr. George Bishop Jr. (WARRENVILLE, S.C.)

Mr. Kenneth Walker (COLUMBIA, S.C.)

Mrs. Sara Palmer (AUGUSTA, Ga.)

Mrs. Rosalia Holcomb (AUGUSTA, Ga.)

Mr. Alfred Bryant (AUGUSTA, Ga.)

Mrs. Laura Wittschen-Brown (SULLIVANS ISLAND, S.C.)

Mr. Neal Amason (LINCOLNTON, Ga.)

Mr. James Elam (BELVEDERE, S.C.)

Mrs. Kathryn Guillebeau (ATLANTA, Ga.)

Ms. Shirley Walker (WARRENTON, Ga.)

Rev. John Brown (TRENTON, S.C.)

Ms. Emily Kaney (WINDSOR, S.C.)

Mrs. Charlotte Mance (TRENTON, S.C.)

Mr. David Haltiwanger (WEST COLUMBIA, S.C.)

Mr. Reginald Watkins (ALEXANDER, Ga.)

Mr. Billy Harrison (AUGUSTA, Ga.)

Mrs. Sherry McCall (NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.)

Ms. Tonia Jones (STATESBORO, Ga.)

Mrs. Ophelia Abney (NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.)

Mr. Edwin Coleman (WRIGHTSVILLE, Ga.)

Mr. James Elam (BELVEDERE, S.C.)

Mr. Neal Jones Jr. (AUGUSTA, Ga.)

Mrs. Elizabeth Medlock (AIKEN, S.C.)

Mr. George Bishop Jr. (WARRENVILLE, S.C.)

Mrs. Louise Plunkett (AIKEN, S.C.)

Mrs. Ophelia Abney (NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.)

Mrs. Elizabeth Hampton (AUGUSTA, Ga.)

Mrs. Nellie Rhoades (AUGUSTA, Ga.)

Mrs. Sherry McCall (NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.)

Mrs. Elester Jones (NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.)

Mr. Nathan Hutto (GRANITEVILLE, S.C.)

Epstein: Pacifism invites escalating acts of war against those who practice it
THERE IS AN increasingly vocal movement that seeks to engage America in ever longer, wider, and more costly wars - leading to thousands and perhaps millions of unnecessary deaths. This movement calls itself the "anti-war" movement.

Holiday season a joyless one for Augusta city workers
On Dec. 14, Augusta-Richmond County threw its annual Christmas party at the Bell Auditorium for its employees. Across town, at the VFW on Milledge Road, the sheriff's office threw its yearly Christmas party. The funny part about these events was the fact that, just a couple of weeks ago, commissioners voted not to give raises to its hard-working and overworked employees, but to add salt to this wound, they voted not to give us the $50 Christmas bonus and told us that we should be lucky to even have a job. Jose A. Torres Jr., Martinez, Ga.

What faith is Bush celebrating?
This is regarding the Dec. 9 Associated Press news article on Page 8A, "Bush celebrates many faiths for holidays." P.K. Fitzgerald, Harlem, Ga.

Charles Fraser
It's easy to enjoy the fruits of human achievements while forgetting about the labor that brought them forth.

The Christmas story
For many Americans, this Christmas is a dark time. We still feel the pain caused by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on this nation, and our armed forces are engaged in a war on the tyranny of terrorism in Afghanistan and other places around the world. In addition, the clouds of war seem to be gathering over rogue nations like Iraq and North Korea. The future looks as dark today as it must have the day Jesus of Nazareth was born.

Broad Street: Our own 'Pottersville'
As I was driving down Broad Street the other day, I had to pinch myself to see if this was real. Broad Street has become the perfect picture of Pottersville from the Frank Capra classic It's A Wonderful Life. The mayor and city fathers are bound and determined to "revitalize" the downtown area by adding more bars, night clubs and strip joints. Andrea Faith Fellows, Augusta

Epstein: Pacifism invites escalating acts of war against those who practice it
THERE IS AN increasingly vocal movement that seeks to engage America in ever longer, wider, and more costly wars - leading to thousands and perhaps millions of unnecessary deaths. This movement calls itself the "anti-war" movement.

A message of eternal hope
Christmas Day is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ, to sing joyous hymns and carols, to exchange gifts, to eat heartily, to bask in the company of loved ones and to give thanks.

'Yes, Virginia ...'
Traditionally, it had been the Augusta Herald's custom at this time of the year to reproduce an editorial that appeared in the old New York Sun in 1897, and which has been handed down as a journalistic classic. The author was Francis Pharcellus Church, but it was not until his death in 1906 that the Sun revealed that the editorial came from his pen.

Celebrate season by helping homeless
When I was a child, I - like all other children - believed in Santa. As I sit here today, I can't help but wonder why, as adults, we lose the fantasy and become so self-absorbed that we lose sight of the true meaning of this holiday. Beverly Redmond, Warrenville, S.C.

Readers restore his faith in people with bicycle saga
Since adulthood, the joy of Christmas for me has been the reactions of my sons, and now my grandchildren, on Christmas Day. This year is somewhat different. Wayne Johnson, Evans, Ga.

Peacemaker correlates with Christmas
Christmas is that special time of the year when Christians all around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus - the only one who can bring peace between man and God, and between man and man. More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." (Matthew 5:9 KJV) Paul L. Cook, Augusta

Urges readers to let peace begin in 2003
My words to all people in this area concern their own conversion to values, which will hold through 2003 and perennially into the future, as they ask God to bless their resolutions, to bring peace to the world as a sign of harmony among God's people united in love for God and each other. The Rev. Michael Lubinsky, Augusta

Keeneland mulls big changes to July sale

Overtime

Overtime

Overtime
Deion Sanders was released by the Washington Redskins on Monday, clearing the first of several obstacles for him to play for the Oakland Raiders.

Jury finds Oracle's radar illegal but no penalty imposed
AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- No penalty was imposed on Oracle of San Francisco on Tuesday, even though a jury ruled the syndicate broke America's Cup rules by using a sophisticated radar system during races.

Overtime
Two Colorado football players were arrested in San Antonio early Tuesday for public intoxication.

Keeneland mulls big changes to July sale
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Keeneland is considering drastic changes to its July sale after Kentucky's thoroughbred industry was hit by hundreds of foal deaths last year.

Prep basketball scores
Scores from Monday's prep basketball games.

Steelers clinch AFC North championship
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Pittsburgh Steelers made the Tampa Bay Buccaneers look like championship pretenders again.

AFC playoff spots still up for grabs
There has never been anything like it: Only four of the 16 AFC teams have been eliminated entering the final week of the regular season.

Civil rights group likes NFL diversity statement, wants stiffer penalties
NEW YORK -- The civil rights group that helped initiate the NFL's recent push for minority hiring believes the league's new policy should have stiffer penalties.

Buchanan, Bolden hope to be healthy for Cleveland
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Left cornerback Ray Buchanan likely will return to his starting spot when the Atlanta Falcons visit Cleveland on Sunday.

Second concussion could sideline Christian permanently
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Falcons fullback Bob Christian will not play this weekend with a concussion and acknowledged Monday his career could be over.

Sanders won't be joining Raiders
NEW YORK -- Deion Sanders will not become a member of the Oakland Raiders. Nor will he return to the NFL this season.

Judge: Microsoft must put Sun's Java in Windows
BALTIMORE -- Microsoft must include rival Sun Microsystems' Java programming language in its Windows operating system, a federal judge ruled Monday, handing Sun a victory as it pursues a private antitrust case against Microsoft.

New Jersey to require 'smart guns,' but technology not yet in place
TRENTON, N.J. -- New Jersey on Monday became the first state to enact "smart gun" legislation that would eventually require new handguns to contain a mechanism that allows only their owners to fire them.

Scientists study how brains change over time
Scientists have found a way to track tiny features of individual brain cells in living mice, providing a glimpse at how brains change over time. In one case, they watched the animals' brains rewire after their whiskers were clipped.

How to control your computer from home
Want to work at your desk in your office computer in your undies without having your boss call the cops?

Hack 'n' slash ninja classic 'Shinobi' revived
If you're a ninja fan, rejoice. "Shinobi," the classic 2D hack 'n slasher, has been revived in great form.

Artist's corner

Sew inspiring

Sew inspiring
When she was just a little girl, before her feet could even reach the pedals of her mother's sewing machine, Adrienne Mathues was determined to sew her own way.

Question of the week
What are you doing for New Year's Eve?

Your style
THE FACTS: Z'Andra Manning, 14, an eighth-grader at Langford Middle School.

Deadline extended to work on Lennon bus
If you've ever dreamed of working in a studio with music professionals, here's your chance.

Having self-confidence can help boy attract girls
THIS WEEK'S PROBLEM: I'm an 18-year-old poet and I believe in treating girls right. How do I get a girl to move past the way I look and see the way I feel? - Augusta boy

Audio best

My ride

'Towers' is visually stunning

My ride
THE FACTS: Sharla Hall, 18, a senior at Augusta Christian School

Christmas is a time to give thanks

'Towers' is visually stunning
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a phenomenal film. In some aspects, it surpasses director Peter Jackson's take on the first installment of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy, Fellowship of the Ring.

Audio best
Weekly charts for the nation's best-selling recorded music as they appear in Billboard magazine. Platinum signifies more than 1 million copies sold; Gold signifies more than 500,000 copies sold:

Question of the week

Xtreme calendar
New on video and DVD: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, starring Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu; The Adventures of Pluto Nash, starring Eddie Murphy as a futuristic night club owner who refuses to sell his club to a space Mafia; and Trapped, starring Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend as parents who turn the tables on their daughter's kidnappers.

Your style

Xtreme calendar

Artist's corner
Mark Eyrich, 17, is a junior at Alleluia Community School. He wrote this untitled poem, his first time writing, for a friend.

Christmas is a time to give thanks
What does Christmas really mean?

Having self-confidence can help boy attract girls

Scientists study how brains change over time

Hack 'n' slash ninja classic 'Shinobi' revived

How to control your computer from home

Judge: Microsoft must put Sun's Java in Windows