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Archive for February, 2007

Stocks fall as Chinese stocks take a hit

NEW YORK – Wall Street fell sharply in early trading Tuesday, joining a global stock decline on growing concerns about slowing economies in the U.S. and China. Worries that U.S. stocks are about to embark on a major correction fed the drop, which took the Dow Jones industrials down more than 120 points.

A 9 percent slide in Chinese stocks earlier set the tone for the opening of trading. Concerns that China’s economy will slow sent many investors selling just a day after they sent Shanghai’s benchmark index to a record high close.

A warning from former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan Monday that the U.S. economy may be headed for a recession also took a toll. A Commerce Department that orders for durable goods in January dropped by the largest amoung in three months exacerbated concerns about the economy, as did a Standard & Poor’s index showing single-family home prices across the nation were flat in December.

In the first hour of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 123.69, or 0.98 percent, to 12,508.57.

Broader stock indicators also fell sharply. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 17.96, or 1.24 percent, to 1,431.41, and the Nasdaq composite index was down 49.13, or 1.96 percent, to 2,455.39.

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Cheney OK after Afghan blast; 23 killed


BAGRAM, Afghanistan – A suicide bomber attacked the entrance to the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Tuesday during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney, killing up to 23 people and wounding 20.

Cheney was unhurt in the attack, which was claimed by the Taliban and was the closest that militants have come to a top U.S. official visiting Afghanistan. At least one U.S. soldier, an American contractor and a South Korean solder were among the dead,
NATO said.

Cheney said the attackers were trying “to find ways to question the authority of the central government.” A Taliban spokesman said Cheney was the target.

About two hours after the blast, Cheney left on a military flight for Kabul to meet with President Hamid Karzai and other officials, then left Afghanistan.

The vice president had spent the night at the sprawling Bagram Air Base, ate breakfast with the troops, and met with Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez, the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

He was preparing to leave for a meeting with Karzai when the suicide bomber struck about 10 a.m., sending up a plume of smoke visible by reporters accompanying him. U.S. military officials declared a “red alert” at the base.

“I heard a loud boom,” Cheney told reporters. “The Secret Service came in and told me there had been an attack on the main gate.”

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Iraqi vice president dodges bomb; 10 die

BAGHDAD, Iraq –
Iraq’s Shiite vice president escaped an apparent assassination attempt Monday after a bomb exploded in municipal offices where he was making a speech, knocking him down with the force of the blast that left at least 10 people dead.

Adel Abdul-Mahdi was bruised and hospitalized for medical exams, an aide said. Police initially blamed the attack on a bomb-rigged car, but later said the explosives were apparently planted inside the building.

The attack sent another message that suspected Sunni militants could strike anywhere despite a major security crackdown across the capital. Hours before the blast, U.S. military teams with bomb-sniffing dogs combed the building, said workers at the site.

The bomb struck while Abdul-Mahdi was addressing municipal officials in the upscale Mansour district, which has many embassies and saw a rise in private security patrols after past kidnappings blamed on militants.

Abdul-Mahdi is one of two vice presidents. The other, Tariq al-Hashemi, is Sunni.

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Judge Dismisses CIA Leak Trial Juror


WASHINGTON — A juror was dismissed from the trial of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby on Monday after court officials learned she had been exposed to information about the case over the weekend.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton ordered the juror removed, saying “what she had exposure to obviously disqualifies her.” The judge declined to say what information the juror had seen.

Walton said the remaining jurors had not been tainted. He said he would allow deliberations to continue with 11 jurors rather than calling on one of two alternate jurors.

“They should continue with their deliberations and I will emphasize again the importance of not having contact with any outside information,” Walton said.

The woman who was dismissed from jury is an art history expert and scholar who formerly served as a curator of prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Judge questions Libby jurors over media

WASHINGTON – Attorneys and a federal judge began questioning each juror in the CIA leak trial Monday after one juror apparently saw or read something about the case over the weekend.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton has ordered jurors to avoid contact with media coverage of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s monthlong trial. He said Monday that one juror was exposed to information about the trial over the weekend.

Jurors occasionally saw some news coverage during the monthlong trial. Unlike those incidents, Walton said Monday that he worried that the information may have been passed to several jurors. He said each juror would be questioned behind closed doors.

The decision came as jurors began their fourth day of deliberations in the case and raised the possibility of a mistrial if jurors had been prejudiced in the highly publicized and politically charged case.

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CIA leak jury debate moves into 2nd week


WASHINGTON – A jury is moving into its second week of debate on whether former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby obstructed the investigation into who leaked the identity of a CIA operative married to a prominent Iraq war critic.

The eight women and four men began deliberations late Wednesday morning and have issued only two brief written notes, which suggested they are methodically reviewing the evidence against the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

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US generals ‘will quit’ if Bush orders Iran attack

SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”

A British defence source confirmed that there were deep misgivings inside the Pentagon about a military strike. “All the generals are perfectly clear that they don’t have the military capacity to take Iran on in any meaningful fashion. Nobody wants to do it and it would be a matter of conscience for them.

“There are enough people who feel this would be an error of judgment too far for there to be resignations.”

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