USA

Government censorship of federal websites with information about airports, power plants, military bases, and other targets attractive to terrorists is mostly unnecessary, according to a new report funded by the the government's intelligence mapping agency. The study attempts to assess the government's response, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, to withdraw public access to certain online databases. The report identified four databases - or less than 1 percent of the federal total - in which a decision to restrict access probably would enhance security. The remaining 625 websites do not merit restriction, the report concluded.

Presumed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry began a four-day campaign swing Monday focusing on rising healthcare costs. His strategy: hoping to wrestle attention away from the Bush administration, which rolled out a discount-drug card program for seniors last week. During stops in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Florida, and Arkansas, aides said Kerry will underscore a newly released study by his staff, which posits that annual health insurance premiums have risen more than $2,700 per family over the last four years. Kerry calls for repealing tax cuts pushed through Congress by President Bush and using the money to bolster healthcare.

The Federal Reserve fined UBS AG, Switzerland's largest bank, $100 million for allegedly violating an agreement and sending dollars to four countries that are under US trade sanctions: Cuba, Libya, Iran, and Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, congressional sources said Bush plans to announce economic sanctions later this week against Syria after accusing it of supporting terrorism and allowing guerrillas to enter Iraq.

In the last two weeks, several more Orange County, Calif., cities have joined San Clemente in banning foam plastic cups from all public facilities and city-sponsored events, The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. The prohibitions are aimed at reducing litter, improving water quality, and protecting wildlife.

An estimated 3,000 people, mostly women, gathered Sunday in Washington for the nation's largest gun-control demonstration in four years. Held on the West Lawn of the Capitol, the gathering lacked the size and star power of the original Million Mom March, which drew hundreds of thousands in 2000, but it urged Bush to renew the federal ban on assault weapons, which expires Sept. 13. In campaigning, the president has pledged support for an extension, but House Republican leaders have said they have no intention of delivering a bill for him to sign.

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