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Bureaucratic clashes continue to stall efforts to create a unified US fingerprint database for identifying possible terrorists, said Glenn A. Fine, the Justice Department's inspector general, on Wednesday. Despite some improved coordination among the Justice, State, and Homeland Security departments, he warned that they still have not resolved whether two or 10 fingers should be printed at US borders and which law enforecement agencies should have access to immigration information.

Authorities are investigating a mysterious laser beam that was directed into the cockpit of a commercial jet as it approached Cleveland Hopkins International Airport at an altitude of more than 8,500 feet on Monday. The beam appeared to track the plane for several seconds but did not interfere with a safe landing, an FBI agent working the case said Wednesday. A similar report was filed in Colorado Springs, Colo. Federal officials have in the past expressed concern about terrorists using laser beams, which can distract or temporarily blind a pilot.

Democrat Christine Gregoire was scheduled Thursday to be certified as governor of Washington after a final hand recount showed her the winner by 129 votes out of more than 2.8 million cast. It was the first time after eight weeks of confusion and three vote counts that Gregoire, a three-time attorney general, prevailed over Republican Dino Rossi. Rossi wants lawmakers to call a special election as soon as the state legislature convenes in January.

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As the result of a recent crash investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board sent a letter Wednesday to all pilots, but targeting those of smaller planes, warning them to run their hands along their aircraft's wings before takeoff to check for tiny amounts of ice that could increase the risk of an accident.

Americans have gone online in a big way to support relief efforts in southern Asia following the deadly tsunamis there. According to The Washington Post, online donations to the Red Cross have outstripped those to phone banks by more than 2 to 1, the website of Catholic Relief Services crashed from so much traffic, and by Wednesday 53,000 people donated over $3 million via Amazon.com.

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