Senate fails to extend unemployment benefits
A Senate measure to extend federal unemployment benefits failed by two votes Thursday despite the election year support of 12 Republicans from states hit hard by layoffs.
Democrats tried to attach the amendment to a gun liability bill, but it failed 58-39 in the GOP-controlled Senate. The margin was two votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome a procedural objection.
The measure would have extended the emergency benefits program for six months, providing 13 weeks of extra unemployment benefits to people who exhaust their state benefits -- usually after 26 weeks.
The unemployment rate dropped to 5.8 percent last month from a high of 6.4 percent last summer.
U.S. asthma rates on the rise, CDC says
The number of Americans with asthma rose about 4 percent in 2002, and minority groups have a more difficult time controlling disease than whites, federal officials said Thursday.
About 7.5 percent of Americans reported having asthma in 2002 -- the most recent year figures are available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. That is up from 7.2 percent a year earlier -- an increase of more than 4 percent.
Planned Parenthood records subpoenaed
The Justice Department has subpoenaed hundreds of medical records from six Planned Parenthood sites as part of the government's defense in lawsuits challenging the Partial-Birth Abortion Act.
According to court documents, Justice Department lawyers say the records -- which would be edited to remove names and other personal information -- are essential to defend the law against the lawsuits brought by Planned Parenthood and doctor groups across the country.
Planned Parenthood has resisted producing the medical records, and critics of the subpoenas say they threaten the privacy of patients and could intimidate doctors and clinics that provide abortions.
Several hundred records were being sought from Planned Parenthood affiliates that serve Kansas/Mid-Missouri; western Pennsylvania; San Diego; Los Angeles; New York City; and the Washington, D.C., metro area.