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FROM THE US NEWS STAND

Farmers, charities join forces to block famine-relief revamp

Starting next year, the White House wants to spend one-quarter of its food-aid budget buying overseas goods to feed starving foreigners, a change that could save 50,000 more lives a year. But American charities and American farmers, are banding together to block the proposal.

An FDA reviewer battles the drug his boss approved

The battle over a diabetes drug provides an inside look at the FDA drug-review process and how the agency balances benefits and risks of new products. It also shows the conflicts in a hierarchical bureaucracy where officials on the bottom rung are also doctor-scientists with years of experience.

Bush aides brace for charges in leak case

Prosecutor in CIA leak case was preparing to outline possible charges before a federal grand jury as early as Wednesday, even as the FBI conducted last-minute interviews in the high-profile investigation.

US military death toll in Iraq hits 2,000

Toll is felt deeply at big military bases across America that active-duty soldiers and families call home, as well as in hundreds of communities where the National Guard and reservists work, live and train

Senators in GOP voice new doubt on court choice

Several lawmakers suggested that as Harriet E. Miers continued her visits on Capitol Hill, she was not winning over Republicans.

Leak counsel is said to press on Rove’s role

The White House expects an announcement as soon as Wednesday about whether Patrick J Fitzgerald will seek indictments.

FROM THE UK NEWS STAND

Marconi heralds pensions shift

Marconi yesterday unveiled a plot to ringfence its £2.5billion pension fund liability, in a move which could act as a blueprint for other major companies to deal with their own pension crises.

Human error felled Gulf rig, BP admits

BP yesterday admitted that the collapse of its $1billion (£560m) Thunder Horse platform in the Gulf of Mexico had nothing to do with Hurricane Dennis, and was instead caused by a technical mistake.

Makers threaten to limit bird flu vaccine

The makers of flu vaccine yesterday threatened not to produce enough bird flu vaccine to deal with an outbreak unless ministers agreed to buy more of their products.

US deaths in Iraq reach 2,000

The number of United States service personnel who have died in Iraq since its troops streamed across the country’s borders in March 2003 passed 2,000 yesterday.

Mandarin says cuts will hinder DTI from doing ‘thorough job’

Ministers and civil servants at the Department of Trade and Industry may soon be forced to admit to Parliament that they are not on top of all the DTI’s subjects amid sharp cutbacks in jobs, the department’s top civil servant said yesterday.

BP admits flaw caused flooding in flagship platform

A critical design weakness in BP’s Thunder Horse oil production platform in the Gulf of Mexico caused the dramatic listing of the structure in July, the company admitted yesterday as it revealed a slippage in its oil and gas production targets for the year.

Pill is history as NHS offers women new contraceptive

All women must be given the choice of using longer-acting contraceptives on the health service, freeing them from the need to take the daily Pill, the treatment watchdog will recommend today.

Religious hatred bill hits buffers after Lords defeat

Ministers sounded a retreat on their plans for a contentious new law to outlaw incitement to religious hatred last night as the Lords inflicted a crushing defeat by throwing out the bill.

Oh dear, what have I said now? Cherie’s in trouble again

Cherie Blair’s charity speaking tour of Australia, for which she was paid a reputed £102,000, was last night mired in fresh controversy.

The real price of gold

The lust for gold has reached record levels worldwide as India and China have joined developed nations in demanding more jewellery.

Platform snag mars bumper BP profits

BP admitted yesterday it would have to spend $250m (£140m) to correct a design fault on its Thunder Horse production platform, as it announced bumper third quarter profits of $4.4bn.

Bank powerless to fine tune ‘bumpy’ economy, says governor

The economy is set to get “bumpier” but the Bank of England is powerless to “fine tune” it, Melvyn King told a House of Lords committee yesterday.

Has the fat lady sung for Italian opera?

Italy may be the home of the opera but this week culture minister Rocco Buttiglione warned of its possible demise as the nation’s 13 deeply indebted opera houses groped for ways to survive a 30% cut in Government subsidies, announced in the new budget.

Blair signals era of parent and pupil power in schools

Sweeping new powers for parents to bring about the sacking of head teachers of under performing schools have been spelt out in Tony Blair’s long awaited white paper on education.

Private firms poised to run state schools after reform

Private education companies and Christian groups are lining up to enter the new education market created by yesterday’s pivotal reforms of the state school system.

Ericsson deal closes Marconi’s final chapter

The Swedish telecoms equipment maker Ericsson agreed yesterday to pay £1.2bn for the bulk of its rival Marconi, ending more than six months of uncertainty over the future of one of Britain’s historic companies.

Evolution founder gives up post and share options

Richard Griffiths, the founder of stockbroking group Evolution, is severing his ties with the company just five months after stepping down as chairman.

Smoking ban shelved after cabinet row

Patricia Hewitt, the health secretary, has been forced to shelve plans to introduce a bill banning smoking after disputes continued to rage across cabinet.

Plans drawn up for mass poultry cull

Emergency plans are being drawn up by the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs to deal with carcasses of millions of chickens, turkeys and geese that would remain after a mass cull in response to a big outbreak of the deadly H5N1 form of avian flu in the UK.

FROM THE ASIA NEWS STAND

Carlyle Group to acquire 85 per cent of Chinese construction firm

Carlyle agreed to acquire 85 per cent of Xugong, a Chinese construction-equipment manufacturer, in a $375m pact that may usher in an era of bigger deals by foreign private-equity firms in China.

Iraq vote confirmed as US deaths reach 2,000

An official count found 78.6 per cent of Iraqi voters supported the constitution. The US military said another wounded soldier has died, bringing American military fatalities in Iraq to 2,000. Bush warned the public to prepare for more.

Tsang’s “big bang” theory ridiculed

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was criticised by pro-democracy lawmakers for comparing Hong Kong’s slow progress towards universal suffrage with the experience of the United States, where women only gained the vote 100 years after US independence.

Antony Leung joins new boardroom faces at reborn ICBC

Former financial secretary of Hong Kong, Anthony Leung Lam-chung, and ex-Goldman Sachs president John Thornton are to be appointed independent directors of the reborn Industrial and Commerical Bank of China.

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