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U.S. ANTITERROR BILL ADVANCES

A national security bill that would strengthen screening of air and sea cargo could be on the president's desk in the next week after House and Senate negotiators reached agreement Wednesday. Key points in the bill:

- Requires Homeland Security to screen all cargo on passenger aircraft within three years.

- Requires the screening of all container ships in foreign ports within five years, but gives the Homeland Security secretary authority to delay implementation.

- Changes the formula for the state homeland security grant program so that more funds go to areas designated as high-risk.

- Authorizes more than $4-billion for four years for rail, transit and bus security.

- Establishes an electronic travel authorization system to improve security for visitors from countries participating in the visa waiver program.

- Provides civil immunity to those who, in good faith, report suspicious activities that threaten the safety and security of passengers on a transportation system or that could be an act of terrorism.

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