Terror threat for financial institutions lowered

WASHINGTON -- Federal authorities lowered the terror alert status for areas around financial institutions in New York, Washington and Newark, N.J., saying Wednesday that additional security precautions had reduced the threat. Lowering the threat level from orange to yellow -- the midpoint on the government's five-level terror warning system -- comes three months after the alert was raised because of concerns the institutions and the areas around them could be al-Qaida targets. Yellow is "elevated," while orange is considered a "high" threat of attack. Homeland Security deputy secretary James Loy said security improvements made since the threat was raised Aug. 1 allowed the government to make the change.

Philip Morris: 'Light' smokes upheld promise

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Philip Morris USA challenged a $10.1 billion consumer- fraud ruling Wednesday, telling the Illinois Supreme Court that its "light" cigarettes performed as advertised and that the company is not to blame if people ended up taking deeper puffs or smoking more cigarettes. Jim Thompson, a former Illinois governor representing Philip Morris, told the justices that the light cigarettes delivered less tar and nicotine than regular cigarettes. Plaintiffs' attorney Stephen Swedlow countered that Philip Morris knew from the beginning that the cigarettes were no healthier. Madison County Judge Nicholas Byron last year ordered Philip Morris to pay smokers $10.1 billion for promoting Marlboro and Cambridge light cigarettes to Illinois customers as a healthier alternative to regular brands.

Study: Vitamin E could make heart ills worse

NEW ORLEANS -- Vitamin E supplements -- taken by many Americans in hopes of warding off heart disease -- do not work, and may actually make the condition worse, researchers say. "People take vitamin E because they think it's going to make them live longer. This doesn't support that at all," said Dr. Edgar Miller of Johns Hopkins University, who led the new analysis. The study was reported Wednesday at an American Heart Association conference in New Orleans and was also published online by the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Ohio's provisional ballots still in counting process

CLEVELAND -- Thanks to John Kerry's concession speech, Ohio's election workers don't exactly have the eyes of the nation on them, but their job of checking and counting the state's provisional ballots is still ongoing. Officials in the state's 88 counties must check 155,337 provisional ballots to ensure they are valid. Then the count is expected to take a week or more.

-- From wire reports