News In Brief

Despite weeks of lobbying by President Bush, the White House and its GOP allies in the House said they lacked enough votes to pass a version of patients'-rights legislation that Bush supports. The Senate approved its own version of the bill weeks ago, but the president has vowed to veto it because it allows patients to sue their health plans in some circumstances. Bush and insurers say this could lead to a proliferation of lawsuits. The House alternative includes similar guarantees for patients as the Senate version, such as emergency-room care and the ability to appeal HMO decisions to review boards, but does not allow patients to sue. (Story, page 1.)

A Cabinet-level panel recommended allowing some of the estimated 3 million Mexicans living illegally in the US to gain permanent residence through an expanded guest-worker program. The suggestions are significantly more limited than a controversial idea floated last week that would grant legal status to all undocumented Mexicans. The New York Times quoted unidentified White House officials as saying 1 million to 2 million Mexicans could benefit from the program.

The administration said it is ending funding for a $15 million gun-buyback program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program, which began in 1999 under ex-President Clinton, took about 20,000 guns off the streets in 80 cities in its first year. It gave local police departments up to $500,000 each to buy guns near public-housing projects. The guns were then destroyed. But critics said there was no evidence it lowered the death rate from firearms.

A former Los Angeles police officer who broke open one of the biggest corruption scandals in the city's history was ordered released from prison after serving almost three years of his five-year sentence. Rafael Perez was convicted in 1998 for stealing cocaine from an evidence room and agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with investigators in return for leniency. Perez, who worked for the city's antigang unit, helped to expose police wrongdoings that included hundreds of assaults and frame-ups.

Hundreds of people throughout the Northeast reported seeing fire balls in the sky and hearing loud sonic booms Monday night in what was apparently an unexpected meteor shower. Sightings were reported from Virginia to New York, where emergency centers were flooded with phone calls. Astronomers said large meteors can create sound waves, but typically meteor showers are silent.

Eudora Welty, who died Monday in Jackson, Miss., was a meticulous writer whose depictions of small-town Mississippi in her book "The Optimist's Daughter" won her a Pulitzer Prize in 1973. Welty was known for her use of vivid imagery and shrewd dialogue. She was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Carter, and in 1998 her writings were collected in the only Library of America anthology devoted to a living author.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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