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Wall Street Journal – Worldwide News Briefs For August 31, 2006 August 31, 2006

Posted by notapundit in Main, US News, World News.
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RESEARCHERS MADE a potential breakthrough in the treatment of terminal cancer. Gene therapy apparently succeeded in shrinking and even eradicating large tumors for the first time, according to a study of melanoma patients.
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California will impose the first broad cap on greenhouse-gas emissions, in a break with the U.S. government over global warming. The measure mandates a reduction in emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
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Norwegian police recovered two paintings they believe are Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” and “Madonna,” two years after masked gunmen seized the priceless artworks from an Oslo museum.
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The U.N. deadline approached for Iran to stop enriching uranium, but President Ahmadinejad remained defiant. Bush said there must be “consequences” for Tehran if it doesn’t comply.
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Bush predicted victory in the war on terror and compared the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism with the fight against Nazis and communists in the last century. (Transcript)
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Israeli troops transferred control over a portion of the border to troops in Lebanon for the first time, as world leaders and aid groups met to raise aid to help Lebanon rebuild.
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The U.S. official overseeing reconstruction spending in Iraq said 70% of the projects have met contract expectations. A series of closely spaced attacks in Baghdad killed 43 people.
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NASA chose Lockheed Martin to build the Orion capsule aimed at reviving U.S. space exploration. Lockheed beat out Northrop Grumman and Boeing for the contract, which could generate up to $8 billion in work over eight years.
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A Hong Kong reporter for a Singapore newspaper was sentenced by a Chinese court to five years in prison on charges of spying for Taiwan amid a government crackdown that has seen dozens of journalists jailed.
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The IMF appears likely to grant up-and-coming developing nations greater power in running the controversial institution that lends money to countries in crisis while often dictating austere economic policies.
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Forecasters issued a hurricane watch for the North and South Carolina coasts Thursday as Tropical Storm Ernesto gained strength over the Atlantic. Hurricane John dumped heavy rain along Mexico’s west coast.
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Warren Buffett married his longtime companion, Astrid Menks, in a private ceremony.
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Three British suspects in the U.K. airlines terror plot were arraigned and ordered held until next month.
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Over 22 bombs exploded in five minutes at banks in southern Thailand, an apparent assault by Muslim insurgents on the region’s economy.
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A health-care study argues that the surge in spending has been worth the price in terms of extended U.S. life expectancy.
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The IMF will likely agree to grant some developing nations greater power in running the fund, which lends money to countries in crisis while often dictating austere economic policies.
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NASA is set to award the first big contract to revive U.S. manned-space exploration. It will choose Lockheed or a Northrop-Boeing team to build the Orion capsule, intended to return man to the moon and take astronauts to Mars.
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BP America President Bob Malone will testify at a Sept. 12 U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, a week after lawmakers examine the BP unit’s pipeline failure in Alaska.
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The FAA acknowledged violating its own policies when it assigned only one air traffic controller to the Kentucky airport where a Comair flight crashed.
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Actor Glenn Ford, who played strong, thoughtful protagonists in films such as “The Blackboard Jungle,” “Gilda” and “The Big Heat” died. He was 90.

OIL FUTURES: Nymex Crude Edges Higher On Iran, Nigeria August 31, 2006

Posted by notapundit in Economic News, Main.
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NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–Oil futures in New York ended a choppy session with modest gains Thursday, pushed higher by buying ahead of the long weekend.

After falling earlier on hopes that production at Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay oil field may return to normal earlier than expected, prices turned around and edged higher as traders bought back previously-sold positions.

The U.N. standoff with Iran over that country’s nuclear program along with the threat of a strike next week by Nigerian oil workers were “reasons not to be short ahead of the weekend,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at brokerage Alaron Trading Corp. in Chicago.

The October crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 23 cents to $70.26 a barrel after falling as low as $69.35 a barrel.

Petroleum products futures ended mixed.

The September gasoline contract lost 5.15 cents to $1.7504 a gallon. The September heating oil contract added 46 points to end at $1.9542 a gallon.

Both contracts expired at the end of the session contributing to the session’s volatility.

Final settlement prices weren’t in yet.

Volume was light.

“There wasn’t a lot to really hang your hat on,” said Peter Beutel, president of trading advisory firm Cameron Hanover. “Traders were still thinking about the Nigeria strike and the Iran nuclear situation.”

The international standoff with Iran over its nuclear program took front center as Iran missed a U.N.-mandated deadline Thursday to halt enrichment and the International Atomic Energy Agency released a report on Tehran’s nuclear activities.

In the report, the IAEA, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, said Iran shows no signs of ceasing uranium enrichment, adding that Tehran started work on a new batch Aug. 24.

The report rekindled the war of words between Tehran and Washington.

Mohammad Saeedi, the deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said the report showed Iran’s cooperation.

“Although the report does not meet our satisfaction, it indicates that the U.S.’s groundless claims were based on the U.S. officials’ illusions,” Saeedi was quoted as saying by the Iranian state news agency.

John Bolton, the U.S.’s U.N. ambassador, said Iran obstructed the work of IAEA inspectors and that unanimity among the Security council wasn’t needed to take action against Tehran.

However, a senior U.N. diplomat said Thursday that key European nations will meet with Iran in September in a last-ditch effort to seek a negotiated settlement.

Peter Donovan, vice president of floor brokers Vantage Trading in New York, said that the “prevailing view is that the Iran nuclear situation will drag out as Russia and China oppose efforts to clamp down on Iran with any major sanctions.”

Meanwhile, Nigerian oil workers warned that only a prompt intervention by government to address growing insecurity in the oil-rich Niger Delta and other concerns can avert a planned strike next month.

At the end of their joint executive council meeting Wednesday, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, or Pengassan, and National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers or Nupeng, agreed to hold a three-day warning strike beginning September 13.

By Masood Farivar, Dow Jones Newswires

Dow Jones News Top Stories Of The Day – August 31, 2006 August 31, 2006

Posted by notapundit in Economic News, Main.
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Retailers deliver mixed sales for August, stoking worries that a slowing U.S. housing market is poised to put a damper on the fall and holiday shopping seasons. Wal-Mart, which reported its results Saturday, projects September sales to rise 1%-3%. Target’s August sales rise less-than-expected 2.8% and sees growth this month of 3%-5%. Federated posts 3.8% increase while J.C. Penney reports 0.5% decline.

Personal income rises 0.5% in July and consumption increases by 0.8%, after rising 0.4% in June. Also, factory orders fall 0.6% in July on transportation weakness. Chicago PMI slips, while weekly jobless claims drop 2,000 to 316,000.

Fed chairman says, “In the long run, what we would like to control is headline inflation.” He adds “a case can be made” for continued strong productivity growth in the longer-term. Poole says price stability is central bank’s main focus.

H&R Block reports a 1Q net loss of $131.4 million, or 41c a share, compared with a year-ago loss of $28 million, as revenue declines 12% to $540.8 million.

NASA picks Lockheed Martin to build the Orion capsule aimed at reviving U.S. manned space exploration. NASA is due to announce the winner this afternoon.

Goldcorp shares fall 10%, following its offer to buy rival Glamis Gold for $8.6 billion in an all-share deal on concerns the deal will dilute earnings and cash flow.

Auto experts anticipate the company making fewer cars in the quarter, following Ford’s plan to cut production 21% from a year earlier. GM will announce its 4Q production plan tomorrow, when auto makers release August sales data.

CEO Ford says potential sale of some or all of the luxury brand “may be an attractive opportunity to raise capital and generate value.” Ford has launched formal sale negotiations that are open to all interested parties. Shares add 1%.

BP has “no target date” to restore production out of the eastern half of Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, says a spokesman. BP also hasn’t notified the Dept. of Transportation, which would need about two weeks to grant permission to use any pipelines in east Prudhoe Bay.

As a federal judge mulls whether to halt the distribution of a cheaper generic version of the blockbuster heart drug Plavix, weekly sales fall 77% for the week ended Aug. 4, the last full week before the Aug. 8 launch of generic Plavix.

Ketchup maker reports net income of $194.1 million, or 58c a share, on sales of $2.06 billion. Analysts expected EPS of 54c on sales of $2.05 billion. Heinz expects results of recent proxy vote to be certified by mid-Sept. Shares edge lower.

Pilots at UPS approve a new contract, concluding nearly four years of battle that included a strike threat and derailed negotiations as recently as May. Pilots will receive raises and signing bonuses up to $60,000. Shares edge lower.

Government scientists save two men dying of melanoma by genetically altering their own white blood cells to attack their tumors — deemed the first major success in battling cancer with gene therapy.

International Air Transport Association cuts its forecast for how much money the airline industry will lose this year by nearly half despite higher jet-fuel estimates. Group says strong economic growth is boosting airline revenue.

Amid a welter of indicators suggesting economic recovery in Europe has peaked and persistent inflation pressure, the European Central Bank keeps interest rates steady at 3% but signals a rise to come in October.

Icelandic generic-drug firm exceeds Barr Pharmaceuticals’ $2.43 billion bid for Croatia’s Pliva with a $2.5 billion offer. Barr’s proposal received Pliva board approval last week. Board to give opinion on offer within two weeks.

Shares tumble 15% a day after the maker of fiber-optic networks posts weak fiscal 4Q gross margins and issues a disappointing 1Q revenue forecast. Analysts cautious on the stock.

Dow Chemical plans to close three plants in an effort to trim $160 million in annual structural costs by 2009. Move is expected to eliminate about 750 jobs and result in a 3Q charge of $550 million to $650 million. Shares gain 1%.

Canada’s gross domestic product expands 0.5% on a quarterly basis or an annualized 2.0%, the slowest pace since a 1.7% annualized growth in the third quarter of 2003, as the housing market cools and exports shrink.

Tropical storm’s top sustained winds now reach 70 mph, just shy of minimal hurricane strength, as some continues to approach Carolinas. Storm center about 90 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C.


Shares End Flat; Retailers In Focus
Small stocks end little changed as trading volumes are light and retailers’ sales reports get a mixed response from investors. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers loses 16% after reporting a drop in same-store sales. Hot Topic falls 11%.

McMahon Steers New Global Fund
Portfolio manager Brian McMahon has a new challenge: steering the newest addition to Thornburg Investment Management’s stock mutual funds — the Thornburg Global Opportunities Fund.

============ U.S. MARKETS ACTION ===========
DJIA down 1.76 points to 11381.15
NASDAQ down 1.98 points to 2183.75
S&P 500 down 0.45 points to 1303.82
10-year T-note up 5/32 at 101 04/32 yield 4.732
NYMEX Spot Crude up $0.23 at $70.26/bbl at close
Dollar/Euro down 0.0017 at 1.2812

Bolton: Report Shows Iran Accelerating Nuclear Activity August 31, 2006

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NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–A report issued Thursday by the International Atomic Energy Agency shows that Iran is accelerating its uranium enrichment activities, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said.

Speaking during a televised press conference, Bolton said the U.N. Security Council must draw up sanctions against Iran because of its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.

“The report makes clear that not only has Iran not suspended uranium enrichment activities as required by Resolution 1696, it’s accelerating” its efforts, Bolton said.

Bolton spoke shortly after IAEA, which is the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said Iran shows no signs of freezing enrichment, adding that Tehran started work on a new batch Aug. 24.

“This is an example of why the idea that Iran should be allowed to conduct research and development activities doesn’t work,” Bolton said.

Bolton said the IAEA report didn’t draw a conclusion about the nature of Iran’s uranium enrichment activities because Iran is not providing it with the information it is obligated to provide.

Bolton told reporters that Iran’s refusal to cooperate fully with the IAEA and its continued development of nuclear technology leaves no doubt that it is seeking a nuclear bomb. Iran contends its program is for peaceful purposes.

He said the U.N. Security Council must begin drawing up sanctions against Iran now that the nation’s leaders have disregarded the Thursday deadline to suspend uranium enrichment.

Bolton said Security Council unanimity wasn’t needed before taking action against Iran over its nuclear program, a reference to continued Chinese and Russian reluctance to move quickly on sanctions.

“While we’re trying to seek the broadest possible support, we don’t need a 15-0 vote for the Security Council to act,” Bolton said.

Bush Sees Victory Over Terror, Cites Ideological Battle August 31, 2006

Posted by notapundit in Main, US News, White House, World News.
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP)–U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday predicted victory in the war on terror at a time when Americans are disillusioned with his strategy, likening the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism with the fight against Nazis and communists in the last century.

“The war we fight today is more than a military conflict,” Bush told thousands of veterans at the American Legion convention. “It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century.”

Bush chose a friendly audience in a conservative state to begin a pre-election series of speeches touting his war strategy. The three-week campaign is centered on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The president described the current violence in the Middle East and the recently thwarted attack to blow up planes over the Atlantic Ocean as part of the same movement that resulted in the Sept. 11 attacks.

“As veterans you have seen this kind of enemy before,” Bush said. “They are successors to fascists, to Nazis, to communists and other totalitarians of the 20th century. And history shows what the outcome will be.

“This war will be difficult. This war will be long. And this war will end in the defeat of the terrorists,” Bush said.

Bush acknowledged the unsettling times – marked by sectarian violence in Iraq, disputes along the Israel-Lebanon border and terrorists allegedly plotting to blow up planes between Britain and the United States.

“The images that come back from the front lines are striking and sometimes unsettling,” Bush acknowledged. “When you see innocent civilians ripped apart by suicide bombs or families buried inside their homes, the world can seem engulfed in purposeless violence.”

Bush said those who were responsible for bringing down the World Trade Center are united with car bombers in Baghdad, Hezbollah militants who shoot rockets into Israel and terrorists who wanted to bring down the flights between Britain and the United States.

“Despite their differences these groups form the outline of a single movement, a worldwide network of radicals that use terror to kill those who stand in the way of their totalitarian ideology,” Bush said. “And the unifying feature of this movement, the link that spans sectarian divisions and local grievances, is the rigid conviction that free societies are a threat to their twisted view of Islam.”