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Deep in Debt, Tribune Seeks Bankruptcy Protection

Tribune Co., the newspaper and television chain that publishes The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday.

The move came less than a year after Sam Zell, a Chicago real estate tycoon took control of the Tribune chain and took on $13 billion in debt that threatens to cripple it in the face of a sinking economy and a collapse in advertising.

Zell said the company had enough cash to continue operating its 12 newspapers, 23 television stations, national cable channel and assorted other media holdings, and the company insisted that the filing would have no effect on employees’ payroll and benefits, or on the vast majority of their retirement accounts.

But in light of its shrinking cash flow, Tribune decided to file for bankruptcy in a Delaware court, with the urging of some of its major creditors who met with Tribune representatives over the previous three days.

Liberals Wondering When Obama’s Team Will Reflect Them

President-elect Barack Obama’s appointments have tilted so much to the political center that they have drawn praise from the likes of Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh. That alone would seem enough to set off a revolt in his liberal base. But a month into Obama’s transition, many on the political left are trying to hold their tongues.

In assembling his team to date, Obama has largely passed over progressives, opting to keep President Bush’s defense secretary, tapping a retired general close to Sen. John McCain and recruiting economists from the traditionally corporate, free-trade, deficit-hawk wing of the party. The choices have deeply frustrated liberals who thought Obama’s election signaled the rise of a new progressive era.

But so far, they are mainly muting their protest, clinging to the belief that Obama still means what he said on the campaign trail and remaining wary of undermining what they see as the most liberal president sent to the White House in a generation. They are quietly lobbying for more liberals in the next round of appointments, seeking at least some like-minded voices at the table. And they are banking on the idea that no matter whom he installs under him, Obama will be the driving force for the change they seek.

Military Jet Crashes in San Diego, Killing Three on the Ground

A military aircraft crashed into a residential neighborhood here on Monday, igniting an intense fire that killed three people in one house and destroyed at least one other home and two cars, fire and police officials said.

The crash, in the University City suburb of San Diego, occurred as the plane, an F/A-18D, was preparing to land at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar about two miles away, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The pilot ejected from the aircraft and was transported to a local hospital in stable condition, said Staff Sgt. Leonard Langston, a public affairs officer at Miramar Station.

Witnesses said they heard two booms, the second louder than the first, as the plane corkscrewed to the ground, trailing a plume of black smoke. The pilot, they said, parachuted to the ground, apparently landing in a local high school playing field.