USA

To boost airline safety, the Bush administration will make 5,000 more armed air marshals available for commercial flights. Under a reorganization that Homeland Security Secretary Ridge was due to announce as the Monitor went to press, the air marshal program is being merged with the customs and immigration service so agents can be trained for both duties. The change comes shortly before the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It also follows reports that the administration wanted to cut funding for the program, which congressional Democrats had vowed to block.

After months of campaigning, Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts formally joined the race for his party's 2004 presidential nomination. Announcing his bid in front of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, S.C., Kerry said President Bush has "misled the country" with a "radical new vision," and vowed, if elected, to restore the 3 million jobs lost since Bush took office. He also said he'd cut the federal deficit by half in his first term. But recent opinion polls show Kerry lagging behind ex-governor of Vermont Howard Dean in the early primary and caucus states of New Hampshire and Iowa.

Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard was seeking approval to challenge his life sentence in an appearance before a federal judge in Washington. The former civilian analyst for the Navy was found guilty in 1987 of passing tens of thousands of top-secret documents to Israel. Pollard claims prosecutors reneged on a promise to seek a less-than-life term in exchange for his guilty plea.

A federal judge granted permission for would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr., to request unsupervised visits with his parents at a court hearing in November. Hinckley shot President Reagan and three others in 1981, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity. A federal appeals court ruled in 1999 that he could make supervised day trips from St. Elizabeth's Hospital, where he has been receiving treatment.

With more than 320 ill passengers aboard, the cruise ship Regal Princess arrived in New York after cutting short a planned 16-day voyage from Copenhagen, Denmark. A spokeswoman for the cruise line said special teams arrived in midtrip to disinfect "everything from elevators to hand-rails" following the apparent outbreak of a virus. Thousands of cruise passengers were diagnosed with similar ailments last year.

Heavy storms dumped more than seven inches of rain on Indianapolis and elsewhere in Indiana Monday, causing scattered flooding. Rainfall also dampened Labor Day celebrations from the Midwest to the Northeast, washing out parades in Ohio and forcing a delay at the US Open tennis tournament in New York.

Former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch reportedly signed a $1 million book deal with publisher Alfred A. Knopf. "I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story," is scheduled for release in November. Rick Bragg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times writer, will be co-author, Knopf said. Lynch's rescue by US forces in a raid on an Iraqi hospital made national headlines.

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