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News Briefs

Kerry to Spend $25M on Image Ads

THE BOSTON GLOBE -- WASHINGTON

John F. Kerry Monday announced a $25 million advertising campaign, the largest single buy of either presidential campaign this year and one that comes as some Democrats have expressed concern that many voters know Kerry only by President Bush’s ads.

Two new spots to air this month in battleground states are designed to introduce Kerry to voters as a lifelong public servant in the military in Vietnam, a prosecutor and lieutenant governor in Massachusetts, and a member in Congress. The ad buy is aimed at countering over $70 million in Bush ads that have aired on radio, TV, and cable since early March. Most of those ads portray the Massachusetts senator as an equivocator who would weaken the country’s national defense if elevated to the White House.

That criticism is expected to find new voices Wednesday when a group of Vietnam veterans, including some who served as Kerry’s commanding officers, plan to say at a news conference that they believe Kerry is unfit to be commander-in-chief. Three of the officers said their main complaint was that Kerry declared after serving in Vietnam that he and other American personnel had committed atrocities -- a statement he has since said was too harsh.

Sharon Planning to Modify Gaza Withdrawal Plan

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- JERUSALEM

A day after his own party dealt him a resounding defeat, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Monday that he would modify his plan for an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and would continue pressing for its approval, members of his party who met with him said.

Sharon’s right-wing Likud Party rejected the Gaza pullout proposal 60 percent to 40 percent in a referendum on Sunday, forcing the prime minister to re-evaluate the future of his main political initiative.

Sunday’s vote had no legal standing, and Sharon remains free to seek formal government approval for the measure. But the defeat has cost him the political momentum and has raised questions about the stability of his coalition government, which is barely a year old.

In talks on Monday with Likud members of Parliament, Sharon said he would not abandon the plan, though he acknowledged that it would be altered, participants in the meeting said.

“The people of Israel elected us in order to find the way to achieve calm, security and peace and to advance Israel’s economy, and this is what I intend to do,” Sharon said in a prepared statement.

‘Sasser’ Worm Exploits Windows Security Flaw

THE BOSTON GLOBE

A malicious computer worm dubbed “Sasser” that exploits a security flaw in Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system has infected thousands of computers worldwide since it was first detected Friday.

“It’s pretty ugly,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for antivirus software maker Sophos Inc. Customer service facilities at Westpac, a major bank in Australia, were crippled as computers were overwhelmed by the worm. The Internet news service CNet also reported that more than 1,000 computers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst were infected.

Sasser doesn’t do permanent damage to infected computers. Instead, it can overwhelm computer networks as it tries to send out additional copies of itself. Unlike other recent computer worms, Sasser is not spread by opening an e-mail attachment.

The worm takes advantage of a weakness in Microsoft’s Windows 2000 and Windows XP operating system. An infected machine sends probes throughout corporate networks or the Internet, looking for other computers with the same software flaw and infecting them.