Footnotes of an America United

  And now the most absorbing two minutes in television, the latest footnotes to America's war on terrorism.  

The Oregon state attorney general says state law does not prevent authorities there from cooperating with the Justice Department by questioning foreign visitors.  

Attorney General Hardy Myers issued the opinion after the city of Portland Police Department said it would not conduct such interviews because, it was claimed, state law forbids asking people who are not suspects about their political, religious or social activities.  

But Attorney General Myers disagreed, and said it was OK for the state police, or for his office, to interview foreigners.  

Montgomery County, Maryland, just north of Washington, has now reversed itself and scrapped a plan to regulate smoking in private homes. 

 After a public opinion backlash that one county council member said made the county "the laughingstock of the world," the proposed regulation, which had passed and was headed for the desk of the county executive, would have prohibited smoking in private homes, if the smoke crossed property lines and bothered neighbors.  

Meanwhile, the county town of Kensington has decided to bar Santa Claus from its annual Christmas lighting ceremony.  The reason:  Two families which don't celebrate Christmas said Santa would make them uncomfortable.  

A new poll finds that public interest in news is sharply up since September 11, but not all news media have been winners.  Indeed, network TV news seems to have been a major loser.  In mid-September, a Pew Center poll found 30 percent of those surveyed made the broadcast networks their primary source for terrorism news.  That has now declined to 17 percent. Meanwhile, cable news has gone from being the choice of 45 percent of those surveyed, to 53 percent.  And newspapers have gone from being the favored source of 11 percent of the public to 34 percent. 

And the interim prime minister of Somalia, which is on the State Department's list of terrorist states, says it would be OK with him if the U.S. were to land troops in his country to track terrorists.  U.S. officials think Somalia, where Usama bin Laden was once based, may become a destination for fleeing al Qaeda terrorists.  

Acting Prime Minister Abshir Farah says that his government has no links to terrorists.  And he says it does not control all of the country, though, and would need outside help to track what he called "terrorist infiltration."