Trading on Wall Street remained in the doldrums after a three-day tailspin due to investor pessimism about corporate accounting scandals and govern- ment plans to address them. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 282 points, or 3 percent, to end at 8,813 Wednesday in the biggest one-day plunge since September, after losing a similar amount over the two previous sessions; the Nasdaq and Standard & Poor's indexes each dipped to their lowest levels since 1997. The US decline triggered selloffs yesterday in European and Asian markets.

In related developments: • The Senate unanimously approved prison sentences of up to 10 years for corporate executives who defraud investors, plus stiffer penalties for illegal document-shredding and mail and wire fraud. The amendments to corporate-reform legislation, which could come for a vote as soon as today, go beyond those proposed by President Bush Tuesday and a House bill approved in April.

• The Labor Department reported wholesale prices edged up 0.1 percent in June, the first rise in three months. Claims for jobless benefits rose more than expected last week, by 16,000 – to a seasonally adjusted 403,000.

Al Qaeda terrorists posing as tourists, businessmen, and students are trying "to penetrate our borders," Attorney General Ashcroft told a Senate hearing on Bush's proposed Homeland Security Department. As the government implements measures to limit and keep tabs on foreign visitors, he warned, Al Qaeda likely will try to recruit Americans for attacks.

A bill to allow commercial pilots to carry guns in the cockpit, if they so desire and receive federal authorization and training, was passed by the House. The legislation, in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, is backed by pilots' and flight-attendants unions' but opposed by the Bush administration and key Democrats in the Senate.

With temperatures topping 100 degrees F. in several Western states, residents swarmed pools and other cool pursuits during a heat wave forcast to last through the end of the week. Redding, Calif., was expected to break its previous record of 118 degrees F. yesterday, a day after the state declared its first Stage 2 power alert of the summer.

Oklahoma City officials asked the FBI to investigate the beating of an unarmed black man by two police officers, in an incident captured on videotape. In Inglewood, Calif., a grand jury is investigating the violent arrest of black teenager Donovan Jackson, also caught on tape. Jackson filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city, Los Angeles County, and several officers. The case has drawn comparisons to the 1991 police beating of Rodney King, which touched off deadly riots.

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