National week in review


Published: Sunday, December 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 30, 2002 at 10:45 p.m.
Bush seeks to loosen controls on logging
  • The Bush administration proposed to rewrite the rules that control logging and other commercial activities in 155 national forests with 192 million acres of public land. Environmentalists and Democrats in Congress objected that the new rules would roll back safeguards that have been in place since the early years of the Reagan administration. The proposal would give forest managers more discretion to decide what steps are needed to preserve fish and wildlife. Forest Service officials contend that the planning process is bogged down in unnecessary, burdensome procedural rules.
    Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife, said the proposal appeared to follow recommendations from the forest products industry. A spokesman for the American Forest and Paper Association said the proposal would simply restore common sense to management of national forests.
    Judge lambasts Archdiocese of Boston
  • A judge excoriated the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, accusing the church of trying to keep private 11,000 documents concerning its handling of 65 priests accused of sexual abuse. Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney denied the church's motion to delay the public release of the documents and issued a harshly worded order accusing the archdiocese of trying to toy with the court and duck numerous orders to disclose documents.
    The ruling was a victory for plaintiffs suing the church over a priest accused of child molestation. Plaintiffs sought documents about other priests, hoping they would show a pattern of negligence by the church in dealing with accused priests.
    Governors facing growing financial woes
  • The fiscal condition of most states is exceedingly grim because of declining revenues and soaring costs for Medicaid and other programs, the National Governors Association said.
    "Nearly every state is in fiscal crisis," the governors group reported. Raymond C. Scheppach, executive director of the organization, said the situation was "the worst we've seen since World War II." Bush administration officials say they cannot provide much fiscal relief because the federal government faces growing deficits.
    Bush names Ridge to head new agency
  • President Bush named Tom Ridge, who has been the White House's domestic security coordinator, to be the first secretary of homeland security. In his new position, Ridge, a former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, will oversee creation of the new Department of Homeland Security, a big bureaucratic challenge, while trying to make Americans safer within their own borders.
    Claritin to be sold over the counter
  • The nation's top-selling allergy drug, Claritin, will be available over the counter under a new federal regulation. While the move will lower the cost for those without prescription insurance, it will substantially raise the cost of the drug for those already covered by insurance. That is because insurers do not pay for over-the-counter drugs, and some say they will raise the copayments required for other prescription allergy drugs, in hopes that patients will choose Claritin instead.
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