USA

Four House Democrats proposed rules changes to make it more difficult to write provisions into legislation for special interests. The changes also seek to stop lobbyists from paying secretly for House members' travels. The move comes after revelations that members of both houses of Congress did legislative favors for lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who provided them with campaign contributions and financed some of their trips.

The Federal Housing Administration launched a program to pay the mortgages for as many as 20,000 victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma for up to one year. The money would come from FHA insurance reserves and could cost up to $200 million, if all eligible homeowners apply. The federal mortgage payments would be interest-free loans and would be due after the original FHA mortgage was paid off.

The American Red Cross said it has begun an effort to reach out to ethnic and racial minorities and add more diversity to its volunteer network. Many hurricane Katrina evacuees complained that the organization did not have enough translators and "overlooked cultural sensitivities" during the relief work, The Washington Post reported.

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether an employer may be liable for money damages if it moves an employee who has complained of discrimination to a more difficult job. At issue is what "materially adverse" changes in employment are and the standard of proof needed for a jury to award punitive damages.

The 28th annual Kennedy Center Honors, held Sunday in Washington, paid tribute to five entertainment icons for their lifetime contribution to the arts and culture. Honorees were: rock music icon Tina Turner, actor/director Robert Redford, singer Tony Bennett, actress Julie Harris, and ballerina and teacher Suzanne Farrell.

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