On the second trip in two days, President Bush was pressing his Medicare reform plan to give senior citizens a prescription- drug benefit, and offer them a controversial managed- care option, while visiting New Britain, Conn. The Senate Finance Committee was expected to pass its version of the measure Thursday, sending it to the full Senate for debate.

To prevent terrorists from smuggling weapons into the US aboard cargo ships, the administration is sending inspectors to 25 more foreign seaports, The New York Times reported. Radiation, chemical, and other checks performed at 20 hubs in Europe and Asia are to be expanded to Dubai, Malaysia, Turkey, and other predominately Muslim states as well as to smaller, strategically located nations, the Times said. Homeland Security Secretary Ridge was to present details of the plan at a speech Thursday in Port Elizabeth, N.J.

Troubles deepened at Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored home-mortgage company, as federal prosecutors confirmed Wednesday that they've opened a criminal inquiry into its accounting practices. Freddie Mac, which ousted three top executives earlier this week, also said it is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.

The Treasury Department is investigating allegations of sexual harassment at the Denver Mint, a spokeswoman for US Mint Director Henrietta Holsman said Wednesday, pledging a "top to bottom" review. Thirty-two female employees filed a complaint earlier this month, claiming they were subjected to sexist comments and denied promotions and bonuses, but were treated more favorably if they had sex with some managers.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed legislation capping damage awards in medical malpractice lawsuits. The law limits awards for pain and suffering to $750,000 per claimant. About a dozen states have approved similar caps, and Bush has urged Congress to pass a $250,000 federal limit on noneconomic damages.

Miami police were searching for a serial rapist linked by DNA tests to four attacks in the Little Havana neighborhood and suspected in at least six others. Three young girls home alone after school have been assaulted in the past month. Authorities offered a $10,000 reward for information in the case.

Veteran TV journalist David Brinkley, who died Wednesday night in Houston, coanchored "NBC Nightly News" with Chet Huntley for 14 years, then worked with John Chancellor for 11 more before moving to rival ABC in 1981. Before his retirement in 1997, Brinkley won 10 Emmy awards, three George Foster Peabody Awards, and, in 1992, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

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