USA

Introducing major reform to the nation's immigration laws, President Bush will propose protections for the Social Security taxes paid by workers, The Washington Post reported, citing Republican officials. Bush's plan, to be announced Wednesday, would make it possible for workers from Mexico and possibly other countries to collect retirement benefits without being penalized by their native countries for the years they spent working abroad, officials told the newspaper. Undocumented workers now pay billions of dollars annually into Social Security but do not collect benefits, since they often give employers fraudulent identification numbers.

Washington-bound British Airways Flight 223 lifted off from London's Heathrow Airport Saturday, after being canceled the two previous days. It has been the most-scrutinized flight since the Bush administration raised the US terror alert level to high Dec. 21. Passengers, who underwent intensive security checks, said applause broke out after the jet landed at Dulles International Airport. "It was a little bit scary. It was a real serious situation," said passenger Jim McCutchan. Other routes under scrutiny since the alert was raised include London-Riyadh and Mexico City-Los Angeles.

A winter storm that brought as much as three feet of snow to parts of Colorado Saturday was blamed for a fatal plane crash and an avalanche that temporarily shut down Vail Pass. The twin-engine plane crashed less than a quarter-mile from the runway at Cortez-Montezuma County Airport in southwestern Colorado, said Lt. William Conner of the Montezuma sheriff's office. The pilot, the only person on board, was killed. Westbound lanes of Interstate 70 on Vail Pass were closed for about three hours, after an avalanche left six feet of snow on the road. No one was caught in the slide.

After traveling seven months through space to search for life on Mars, the US rover Spirit landed safely Saturday in what NASA scientists say appeared to be a dry lake bed on the Martian surface. The spacecraft sent between 60 and 80 black-and-white photos during its initial landing. "The images are outstanding," said Mars Exploration Rover science manager John Callas, as the pictures appeared on a giant screen at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The images capture Mars for the first time in stereoscope, offering unprecedented depth of field that will allow NASA to pinpoint future areas of exploration more accurately.

A convicted bank robber admitted to threatening to kill US Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) of New York, officials said. Edward Falvey told a prison psychologist in the past week he wanted to "spice up" his life by shooting the former president's wife, a federal crime that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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