USA

The Bush administration denied any political motivations in raising the terror alerts in New York and Washington based on intelligence information seized about the surveillance of financial buildings that is as much as four years old. "We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security," said department Secretary Tom Ridge Tuesday. The administration maintains that the public needed to be alerted as soon as possible since Al Qaeda operatives are known to plan attacks years in advance. Still, city officials in Washington voiced anger Tuesday that street closings and checkpoints brought on by this week's orange alert were overly disruptive.

As anticipated, Missourians passed a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, with about 71 percent for the measure in Tuesday's vote. Supporters on both sides viewed the campaign as a testing ground for strategies in upcoming battles. At least nine other states will vote on similar amendments this year. Missouri has laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman but now has clarified its opposition to gay marriage with an outright ban.

Illinois Republicans, who've scrambled to find a senatorial candidate, said they would interview two black politicians Wednesday, then choose between Andrea Grubb Barthwell, a physician and former deputy drug czar, and Alan Keyes a former congressional and presidential candidate from Maryland who would need to relocate by Election Day, Nov. 2, to be eligible. Whoever gets the nod goes against black state senator Barack Obama, a rising star of the Democratic party. GOP leaders denied any racial motivations in selecting two black finalists.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) submitted a 2,500-page plan Tuesday to reform California's state government to a special commission drawn from the public and private sectors. The plan, compiled by 275 state employees and consultants largely in secret at the governor's request, aims to save as much as $32 billion over the next five years.

President Bush and Democratic presidential rival John Kerry were scheduled to hold rallies Wednesday only blocks apart in Davenport, Iowa, an area that helped Al Gore to narrowly capture the state four years ago.

With SWAT teams and sophisticated new screening equipment in place, the Statue of Liberty opened to the public Tuesday for the first time since the 9/11 attacks. Despite $19.6 million in security upgrades, visitors are only allowed to go as high as the 151-foot-tall statue's feet.

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