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Four U.S. Soldiers
Reported Killed In Iraq

By Kirk Semple

The U.S. military said Thursday that four U.S. servicemen had died Wednesday, including two Marines who were killed during sweeps aimed at disrupting insurgent networks in Anbar province prior to the Dec. 15 elections.

The two Marines, both members of Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division, were killed by small arms fire in separate incidents in Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad, the military said.

In addition, an Army soldier died Wednesday from a gunshot wound north of Baghdad, but the military it gave no further details and did not specify how the soldier received the wound. The fourth death on Wednesday was that of a Marine assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing of II Marine Expeditionary Force who died in a noncombat-related vehicle accident near Taqaddum, outside of Fallujah, the military said.

New Checks Planned for Illegal
Workers and Their Employers

By Eric Lipton

Employers in the United States will soon be given a more reliable way to verify the immigration or citizenship status of new hires, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday. That system will then be followed up with tougher enforcement of immigration laws, he said.

“We owe the employers tools to verify their employees in a prompt and accurate manner,” Chertoff said during a news conference. “Once we give them those tools, though, they owe it to us to use those tools, and if they don’t, we then have to sanction them.”

Chertoff provided little detail on how the system would work, saying only that an announcement would be made in the next several weeks.

But senior officials at Homeland Security said one change would probably involve revising the notification that employers receive when a Social Security number or other identification information provided by a new hire is rejected as invalid by the Social Security Administration.

“Employers have not been provided with a good explanation of what they need to do and what is expected of them within eyes of the law” when they receive such a notice, said Russ Knocke, a Homeland Security spokesman.

Aggressive HIV Monitoring
Is Urged by NYC Health Chief

By Richard Perez-Pena

New York City’s health commissioner says government should become much more aggressive about monitoring and caring for people infected with HIV and preventing the spread of the virus — in short, treating HIV more like other dangerous infectious diseases.

In an article in the current issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, the commissioner, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, and other city health officials argue that public health agencies nationwide should track the progress of infected people and talk to anyone those people say they might have infected — the current practice with diseases like syphilis and tuberculosis. They add that to curb the spread of AIDS, the government should widely distribute condoms and clean hypodermic needles.

“The political costs,” they write, “include offending both sides of the political establishment,” from conservatives who oppose condom and syringe distribution to AIDS activists who object to the government’s notifying a patient’s sexual partners.