Senate approves port security billThe Senate voted without dissent yesterday to tighten security at US seaports by scanning nearly all incoming cargo for nuclear weapons or ``dirty bombs." The bill, approved 98-0, would increase safeguards on the rail systems that pick up cargo from ports and authorize 1,000 new agents to screen containers coming off ships. But the legislation does not go as far as some Democrats demanded in requiring inspections for all US-bound cargo before it leaves foreign ports. Almost 11 million containers are shipped annually to the United States. The plan, which authorizes spending $835 million next year, ``works toward a goal of getting to 100 percent screening" of cargo leaving foreign ports, said Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat who is one of the bill's authors. (AP)
Philadelphia passes antismoking billPhiladelphia yesterday became the latest US city to ban smoking in most public places. Mayor John Street signed a bill that would ban smoking in all restaurants and many bars. Sidewalk cafes, specialty tobacco shops, private clubs, and casinos are exempt under the bill, which is expected to take effect in January 2007. Neighborhood taverns -- defined as those that get at least 90 percent of their revenues from drinks alone -- are exempt for two years. (AP)
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