USA

President Bush used his annual address to the UN General Assembly to defend his decision to invade Iraq and urge the world community to join the fight against terrorism. Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week characterized the US-led military action as "illegal." On Monday, John Kerry laid out a stinging critique of the president's handling of the war, but Bush said that Kerry's proposal for "what to do next [is] exactly what we're currently doing." Kerry called for more help from other nations, providing better training for Iraqi security forces, improving reconstruction efforts, and ensuring elections be held next year.

CBS News and anchor Dan Rather issued an apology Monday for a "mistake in judgment" in airing a "60 Minutes II" report that called Bush's Air National Guard service into question. But while expressing regret over not upholding its own journalistic standards, the network offered no apologies directly to the president for the report, which it continued to stand behind even as experts raised grave doubts about the authenticity of documents on which it was based. On the "CBS Evening News," Bill Burkett, a former Air National Guard officer and Bush critic who supplied the documents, admitted to misleading the network about their source, yet denied that he'd forged them. CBS said it would name an independent panel to scrutinize the reporting of its Sept. 8 story. Meanwhile, sparks flew between Bush supporters and the Kerry campaign after Joe Lockhart, a top adviser to the Democratic challenger, said he'd talked to a central figure in the controversy at CBS's suggestion. However, he denied any involvement in coordinating an attack on Bush.

A series of three presidential debates begins Sept. 30 in Coral Gables, Fla., negotiators for the candidates announced Monday. The first will be devoted to foreign policy and homeland security. On Oct. 8 in St. Louis, a town-hall-style format will be followed. On Oct. 13, in Tempe, Ariz., the economy will be the focus. One debate will be held Oct. 5 in Cleveland between Vice President Cheney and Kerry running mate John Edwards.

A trial stemming from a Justice Department lawsuit seeking $280 billion from American tobacco companies for allegedly conspiring to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking and for illegally targeting children in marketing campaigns opened Tuesday. Government lawyers presented their case in US District Court in Washington. The case is expected to last six months.

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