USA

In the wake of last week's terrorist attacks in Kenya, senior members of Congress urged the Bush administration to take urgent, though unspecified, action to guard US commercial airliners against a similar threat. On the program "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Richard Shelby (R) of Alabama said, "There are thousands of these surface-to-air missiles around the world.... Sooner or later, that's going to be one of the methods for the terrorists to hit."

A potential war with Iraq could cost the US $100 billion to $200 billion, The Washington Post reported, citing informal estimates by congressional staffers and Washington think tanks. If Iraq's oil fields are destroyed, leading to a spike in oil prices, indirect costs to Americans could be higher still, the Post said. The 1991 Gulf War cost taxpayers about $7 billion, because the previous Bush administration won contributions from allies such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Germany, and Japan. That practice has yet to be repeated, as the current President Bush mulls military action to disarm Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

Seven of nine states dropped appeals of Microsoft's landmark antitrust settlement with the federal government. Iowa's attorney general said Friday that his state, along with California, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, Utah, and Washington D.C., would focus instead on ensuring that the software titan adheres to the agreement OK'd earlier this month by a federal judge. But Massachusetts will continue to push for tougher penalties in what Attorney General Tom Reilly called a "loophole-filled deal." West Virginia must decide by today on a course of action.

In a first step toward joining the 2004 presidential race, Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts, told NBC's "Meet the Press" he'll form a committee this week to explore a White House bid. A formal decision is still months away, he said. Kerry is a decorated Vietnam War veteran and one of the wealthiest members of Congress. Former Vice President Gore, the Democratic nominee in 2000, and Sen. John Edwards (D) of North Carolina are expected to announce whether they'll run in the next month.

After more than 200 people fell ill aboard the Disney cruise ship Magic, its second such outbreak in a month, the company canceled a voyage Saturday and began a week-long decontamination at Port Canaveral, Fla. The Holland America Line, meanwhile, completed a clean-up of its ship Amsterdam. More than 500 passengers and crew complained of illness on four trips on the Amsterdam.

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