USA

Charles McCoy, the suspect in a series of Ohio highway sniper shootings, was arrested without incident in Las Vegas, where he was spotted by a casino patron two days after authorities released his picture, vehicle description, and license plate. McCoy is believed to be the gunman in 24 shootings that for months have terrorized motorists along I-270 and other roads near Columbus, Ohio. McCoy was unarmed when captured in a motel parking lot.

President Bush urged wavering allies in the US-led coalition in Iraq to stay the course. Even so, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands gave no promises, during a White House visit, that 1,300 Dutch troops (equal to the number Spain plans to withdraw) would stay in Iraq beyond June. Honduras said it is pulling out 370 troops, and other nations are thought ready to follow suit.

In an Illinois primary election that set the stage for a key US Senate race, state Sen. Barack Obama (D), a former civil rights lawyer, and investment banker-turned teacher Jack Ryan (R) emerged as rivals for the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Peter Fitzgerald. The race could shape the balance of power in the Senate. If elected in November, Obama, the son of a Kenyan father and American mother, would become only the third black senator in a century. He defeated six other Democrats, while Ryan, who has been dogged by news media attention on his divorce from actress Jeri Ryan, prevailed in a three-person Republican race. The Illinois primary also gave John Kerry the margin of delegates he needs to clinch the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Tommy Thompson, secretary of Health and Human Services, called for an internal investigation to clear up a brewing Medicare controversy. At issue is a claim by Richard Foster, the program's chief actuary, that Thomas Scully, its former administrator, had threatened to fire him if he didn't withhold a higher estimated cost for prescription drug benefits than projected by the Bush administration. Foster predicted the cost of the benefits contained in legislation passed late last year was between $500 billion and $600 billion over 10 years, not the $400 billion Thompson estimated. The proposed White House budget shows the cost as $534 billion.

In an e-mail message to 2.3 million Democrats, ex-President Clinton, who publicly has remained on the sidelines during the 2004 presidential campaign, urged party members to flood Kerry headquarters with $10 million in donations in 10 days - to help him counter the messages of the better-financed Bush campaign.

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