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Mass. rate is highest

Washington, D.C.

An outbreak of E. coli in eight states has left at least one person dead and 50 others sick, federal health officials said yesterday in warning consumers not to eat bagged fresh spinach. The death occurred in Wisconsin, where 20 others were also sickened, said Dr. David Acheson of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. The outbreak has sickened others in Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah. FDA officials do not know the source of the outbreak, other than it appears to be linked to bagged spinach. (AP)

Senate approves port security bill
The 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)

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia passes antismoking bill
Philadelphia 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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