In secret memos, the Bush administration endorsed harsh interrogation techniques against Al Qaeda suspects, including the use of waterboarding, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The memos, written to the CIA in 2003 and 2004, were sought to buttress Justice Department approval of the interrogation methods. A White house spokesman had no comment on the report.

Ohio must set up a system for checking new voter registrations by Friday, a federal appeals court ordered Tuesday. The decision is meant to address concerns raised by Ohio Republicans, who want the eligibility of 666,000 new voters since January to be verified. Meanwhile, an activist network called the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, defended its nationwide voter- registration practices, which have brought allegations of fraud in Ohio and other states.

A worldwide spam operation that prompted 3 million complaints to the Federal Trade Commission received a temporary injunction to halt operations Tuesday from a federal judge in Chicago, who froze the network's assets. The enterprise, known as "Affking" on the Internet, also could face criminal charges in an FBI investigation of the group's alleged violations of a federal anti-spam act in its peddling of prescription drugs.

A San Fernando Valley wildfire northwest of Los Angeles was about 20 percent contained early Wednesday, with firefighters expecting more progress in fighting scattered southern California blazes during a respite in the Santa Ana winds, which usually sweep in between October and February. Altogether, the fires have charred more than 34 square miles, destroyed dozens of homes, and caused two deaths.

Bottled water is not necessarily purer than tap water, the Washington-based Environ-mental Working Group says of its findings in a study of leading bottled water brands released Wednesday. The organization, which advocates tighter regulation, said the brands tested meet federal health standards for drinking water but contain a variety of contaminants, some of which probably leach from the plastic bottles. An industry group called the findings "alarmist."

The Denver Mint began striking a Hawaii commemorative quarter Tuesday that is the last in a 10-year state series. The coins bear a likeness of monarch King Kamehameha I . They're the last to roll out because Hawaii is the 50th and last state. The coins go into circulation Nov. 3.

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