WASHINGTON - President Bush signed legislation last week that toughens penalties against identity theft, a problem that federal officials estimate cost US consumers and businesses more than $50 billion last year.
The Federal Trade Commission has said it received more than a half million consumer complaints in 2003, as scam artists both financed spending sprees with other people's credit cards and sold nonexistent products online at auction sites such as e-Bay.
The new law creates a separate crime of "aggravated identity theft" to prosecute offenders who use another's identity to commit a terrorist act, wire fraud, passport or visa theft, or other serious crimes.
BELGIUM The United Nations appealed Thursday for all governments worldwide to allow immigrants to become full members of society. The plea came as part of a major UN report that said nearly 1 billion people belonging to minority groups suffer from discrimination in different parts of the world.
In its annual Human Development Report, the world body also repeated its warning from last year that grim news from Africa - particularly the rising death toll due to AIDS - means the "millennium targets" set to reduce global poverty by 2015 would not be met without radical changes in policies.
RICHMOND, VA. With one dissenting vote, Virginia lawmakers corrected an embarrassing legislative mistake that gave all workers the right to take Sundays off as a day of rest.
Earlier this year, Virginia lawmakers mistakenly revived a Colonial-era law giving workers Sundays off if they request it.
The blunder alarmed businesses with round-the-clock shifts to cover, such as factories, utilities, and restaurants.