USA

With most of the media spotlight still on the GOP, Democrats were celebrating late gubernatorial victories in Arizona, Oregon, and Oklahoma. Meanwhile, in Alabama, both parties declared victory in the race for governor, and there were indications that the final outcome might not be known for several weeks. Incumbent Don Siegelman (D) claimed that votes were altered in GOP-dominated Baldwin County. Results there first showed him as the winner over challenger Bob Riley, but a computer glitch was blamed for an erroneous tally that was later recounted and certified. In Vermont, Democratic candidate Doug Racine conceded, but the Legislature will have to choose the Republican winner since no candidate won more than half the vote.

The South Dakota Senate race results also may be subjected to a recount. With 527 more votes than John Thune (R), incumbent Tim Johnson (D) proclaimed himself the winner. But elections officials were canvassing the ballots.

In a new bid to light a fire under the economy, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates Wednesday to a 41-year low. The Fed's Open Market Committee slashed the federal funds rate to 1.25 percent and the discount rate to 0.75 percent. Economists warned, however, that the new rates could take months to begin to affect the economy.

The bond between illegal drugs and terrorism was cited by federal officials in announcing the arrests of seven people connected with Al Qaeda and a Colombian paramilitary group. In Houston, four people were charged with trying to trade $25 million in cocaine for a large cache of weapons meant to be used by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, an 8,000- member paramilitary group. In San Diego, three suspects were charged with attempting to sell 1,300 pounds of heroin and hashish to purchase Stinger missiles for Al Qaeda.

A Los Angeles jury found movie star Winona Ryder guilty of shoplifting Wednesday, but prosecutors said they would not try to put her behind bars. The jury found Ryder guilty of stealing high-fashion merchandise worth $5,500 from Saks Fifth Avenue last year and of vandalism, but not burglary.

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