President Bush's proposed temporary worker program received a chilly response from immigrant rights groups and Republican conservatives. David Ray of the Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates limits on foreign workers, called the initiative "mind-boggling" at a time when 9 million Americans are jobless. To the political left, Lucas Benitez of the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers dismissed it as "a political ploy to get Hispanic votes" and claimed the plan would only exploit workers while benefitting industries.

Ex-Enron finance chief Andrew Fastow was reported close to a plea deal with federal prosecutors in Houston. According to sources close to the case, Fastow would receive a 10-year prison sentence and $20 million in fines. But he is insisting that the deal also cover his wife's case. The presiding judge rejected a plea offer Wednesday for Lea Fastow, a former Enron assistant treasurer, that called for five months in jail. An agreement would make Andrew Fastow the most senior Enron official yet to plead guilty in the second-largest corporate accounting scandal in US history.

Rejecting a request to resume manufacture of silicone-gel breast implants, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Inamed Corp. must do more research to prove they're safe. The chief executive of the Santa Barbara, Calif., company said he'd seek approval again after the FDA releases further details. Complaints by women that the devices often leaked, damaging their health, prompted a 1992 ban on routine sales.

Democratic lawmakers in Connecticut were discussing whether to try to impeach Gov. John Rowland (R), a day after his televised apology for accepting costly gifts from state workers and contractors and then lying about it. "I should know better, and I do know better," Rowland said, while insisting he never did favors in return. A new poll by Quinnipiac University of Hamden, Conn., found 56 percent of respondents think he should resign.

Authorities in northwest Georgia were searching for a suspect in four killings who was believed to have kidnapped three girls. Police issued a murder warrant for Jerry Jones and an Amber Alert for the children, ages 10, 4, and 3. They were last seen in Ranger, 55 miles north of Atlanta.

"American Splendor" was named best picture of 2003 by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Wednesday. Peter Jackson won best director for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," and Bill Murray and Naomi Watts took best actor and actress, respectively. The awards will be presented Jan. 26, one day before nominations for the film industry's top prize, the Academy Awards, are scheduled to be announced.

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