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Hospital Faces Sanctions Over Improper Use of Patient Records

The head of California’s health department said Monday that the agency planned to sanction the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center after hospital workers improperly viewed the records of more than 60 patients, including the actress Farrah Fawcett and the state’s first lady, Maria Shriver.

The center, one of the country’s leading medical institutions, learned last May that the security of the medical records had been breached after The National Enquirer printed an article about a recurrence of Fawcett’s cancer before she had told family members.

As soon as Fawcett’s lawyers notified hospital officials that they feared her medical records had been leaked to one or more tabloid newspapers, the center began an investigation, said Roxanne Moster, a spokeswoman.

The investigation revealed that records of 61 patients, roughly half of them celebrities or politicians, had been opened by one unauthorized worker who had since quit. “There was intent to terminate,” Moster said, “and I believe it was going on when she resigned.”

Moster said there was no evidence that the employee, whom she would not name, revealed medical information about Fawcett or anyone else to reporters.

After Letters, Microsoft and Yahoo Still in Stalemate

After their top executives traded recriminations in an exchange of letters, Microsoft and Yahoo continued their stalemate, with Yahoo shareholders expected to play an increasingly large role in the takeover battle.

In a letter to Microsoft early Monday, Jerry Yang, the chief executive of Yahoo, and Roy Bostock, its chairman, once again rejected Microsoft’s bid for their company, saying it undervalues Yahoo. But they made it clear that Yahoo remained open to a deal, as long as Microsoft sweetened its bid.

The two Yahoo officials also said that the company was continuing to explore alternatives to Microsoft’s offer.

People briefed on the situation said Yahoo was still in conversations with Time Warner about a deal to merge that company’s AOL unit into Yahoo.

A Time Warner spokesman declined to comment.

“We are not opposed to a transaction with Microsoft if it is in the best interests of our stockholders,” Yang and Bostock wrote. “Our position is simply that any transaction must be at a value that fully reflects the value of Yahoo, including any strategic benefits to Microsoft, and on terms that provide certainty to our stockholders.”

Yahoo’s statements were in response to a letter on Saturday from Steven A. Ballmer, the chief executive of Microsoft, threatening to begin a proxy fight to oust Yahoo’s directors if the two companies had not reached a negotiated deal in three weeks.

Ballmer also warned that a proxy fight would likely be accompanied by a lower offer for Yahoo.

Microsoft’s offer on Jan. 31 was initially valued at $44.6 billion, or $31 a share, but has fallen to just over $42 billion, or $29.36 a share, after a decline in the price of Microsoft’s shares.

After Clinton Shake-Up, Campaign Seeks Calm

“This isn’t exactly what I was planning on when I woke up this morning,” Geoff Garin e-mailed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton after a hasty weekend shake-up left him atop her campaign’s strategy team.

Clinton answered his dry humor in kind. “Isn’t that what makes life so interesting?” she responded.

The question is whether Garin, in succeeding Mark Penn, his Harvard classmate, can make life different for a candidate with dwindling opportunities to overtake Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination before the August convention. By all accounts, from outsiders as well as Clinton loyalists, it is a long shot.

“I’m operating on a shorter time horizon,” Garin said in his office at Peter D. Hart Research Associates, the polling firm where he has worked for three decades. “The immediate imperative is to win and do well. For the next few weeks, we have to do that. If we do that, the weeks after that will take care of themselves.”

For now, Garin is helping to provide a cathartic moment for a Clinton team riven for months by infighting and antagonism. Low-keyed, he stands in some ways as the antithesis of his predecessor — as easy-going as Penn is brusque, known for offering unvarnished analysis in contrast to Penn’s reputation for incorporating his centrist views in his advice to candidates.

For McCain, Little Talk of Controversial Endorsement

When Sen. John McCain won the endorsement of the Rev. John C. Hagee in February, his campaign hoped it would shore up his conservative credentials among evangelicals and build enthusiasm among a voting bloc that would be critical for him in November.

But since then, Hagee has been on the defensive over some of his views about Catholics and Jews, and he and McCain’s campaign have been silent about his endorsement.

The controversial endorsement points to McCain’s tenuous relationship with conservative evangelicals, a group that President Bush courted with tremendous success and that Republicans have come to view as vital to their prospects in many states.

The McCain campaign sought Hagee’s support, Hagee said in a recent interview. But after the two announced the endorsement at an event on Feb. 27 in San Antonio, Hagee’s hometown, the campaign has stopped talking about it.