Escaped inmates, ex-guard caught

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Two fugitives and the former prison guard who may have helped them escape were arrested Wednesday after a short-lived struggle that involved shots fired at the officers, authorities said.

The arrests ended a search for Steven A. Ford, Jesse L. Bell and Amber Goff that lasted more than two days and spanned some 600 miles after Ford and Bell escaped from a recreation yard at the El Dorado Correctional Facility near Wichita, Kan., Sunday night.

Authorities were investigating whether Goff had a romantic relationship with Ford, and her mother said she mentioned him often.

Key interest rate cut

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve sliced an important interest rate Wednesday - its second reduction in the last six weeks - to help the economy survive the strains of a deepening housing slump that is likely to crimp growth in coming months.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and all but one of his colleagues agreed to lower the federal funds rate by one-quarter percentage point to 4.50 percent at the end of a two-day meeting.

Ban on apartments' exclusive cable TV contracts approved

WASHINGTON - Federal regulators on Wednesday approved a rule that would ban exclusive agreements that cable television operators have with apartment buildings, opening up competition for other video providers that could eventually lead to lower prices.

NASA report shows safety problems worse than thought

WASHINGTON - Abandoning its secrecy claims, NASA promised Congress on Wednesday it will reveal results of an unprecedented federal aviation survey that found that aircraft near collisions, runway interference and other safety problems occur far more often than previously recognized.

Provoking broad criticism, NASA had said previously it was withholding the information because it feared it would upset air travelers and hurt airline profits.

Toddler dies in hot car; mom charged

PHOENIX - A woman who found her 1-year-old son dead in her hot, stuffy car after she worked her seven-hour shift as a Hooters waitress has been arrested, police said Wednesday.

Ashly Duchene, 22, was booked into the Maricopa County jail Wednesday on a felony count of negligent homicide.

Duchene usually dropped the boy off at a day-care center on her way to work but failed to do so Tuesday, police Sgt. Joel Tranter said.

Former prosecutor acquitted of hiding terror trial evidence

DETROIT - A former federal prosecutor was acquitted Wednesday of withholding evidence from the defense during the nation's first major terrorism trial after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The government said Richard Convertino wanted so badly to win convictions in the case that he broke the law. But Convertino's lawyers insisted he did nothing wrong and had no reason to hide evidence against four North African men accused of operating a 'sleeper' terrorist cell.

2 Philly officers shot within span of day

PHILADELPHIA - A police officer walked into a doughnut shop Wednesday while it was being robbed and was shot in the head, authorities said, becoming the third officer in four days to be wounded by gunfire in this city.

The 54-year-old officer, Charles Cassidy, was checking on a Dunkin' Donuts shop about 10 a.m., Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said. The robber shot him almost immediately after the officer walked in.

'He actually walks into a robbery, a holdup, unbeknownst to him,' Johnson said.

The shooting came about 12 hours after a masked gunman shot Traffic Officer Mario Santiago in the shoulder during a chase downtown.

Boy accused of starting Calif. fire

LOS ANGELES - Officials blamed a wildfire that consumed more than 38,000 acres and destroyed 21 homes last week on a boy playing with matches, and said they would ask a prosecutor to consider the case.

Los Angeles County fire Capt. Michael Brown said the boy was younger than 13.

Spacewalk canceled for snarled joint

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA canceled Thursday's spacewalk to inspect a snarled joint for a set of solar panels and instead instructed its orbiting astronauts to go out a day later to try to fix a torn solar wing.

Fake Halloween teeth recalled

WASHINGTON - Hours before trick-or-treaters began going door to door, the government warned consumers Wednesday that fake Halloween teeth sold by the tens of thousands since last year contain excessive amounts of lead.

The $2 packages of 'Ugly Teeth' are only the latest in a long line of Chinese-made toys and novelty items recalled because of lead.

Gold above $800 for 1st time since 1980

NEW YORK - Gold barreled above $800 an ounce Wednesday for the first time since 1980 as investors cheered the Federal Reserve's decision to lower its benchmark interest rate by a quarter point.

Supreme Court grants reprieve to Miss. inmate

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court halted an execution in Mississippi on Tuesday, less than an hour before Earl Wesley Berry was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection. Tuesday's order was the latest indication that most, if not all, executions by lethal execution will be halted at least until the justices decide a challenge to Kentucky's lethal injection procedures.

Nominee's torture answers upset some Democrats

WASHINGTON - Prospects for Michael Mukasey's confirmation as the nation's 81st attorney general dimmed Wednesday after he again refused to equate waterboarding with torture and more Democrats, including Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., on a key committee announced they would vote against him.

Woman jailed for 2 days after mistake

YORK, Pa. - A mistake in court records led to a two-night jail stay for a woman being investigated by police for playing music too loud.

Andrea Conn, of Windsor, was jailed Saturday night after an officer looking into the noise complaint discovered she was wanted for failing to appear in court in 2003.

But the warrant should not have been in the county's system because it was taken care of that year, York County Prothonotary Pamela Lee said Wednesday.