Pakistani troops fire on US soldiers near Afghan border, reports say

Security officials say soldiers were trying to enter South Waziristan by helicopter


Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border. Photograph: Matiullah Achakzai/EPA

Pakistani troops opened fire on US soldiers trying to enter the country’s lawless tribal area today, according to reports, marking a dangerous further deterioration in relations between the two anti-terror allies.

Details of the incident, in South Waziristan, are unclear. According to local security officials and tribesmen, however, two US helicopters breached Pakistani airspace in the early hours but were forced to retreat when they came under fire.

The US forces were likely to have been on a hit-and-withdraw mission against suspected militants in the area, similar to the first documented US ground raid into the tribal territory earlier this month, when choppers flew in commandos. That enraged the Pakistani army and public.

Read morePakistani troops fire on US soldiers near Afghan border, reports say

Bolivia’s President Morales declares martial law in rebellious state


Supporters of Bolivia’s President Evo Morales burn dolls representing Leopoldo Fernandez, governor of the opposition state of Pando, in La Paz, Monday, Sept. 15, 2008. Several opposition provinces are seeking greater autonomy from Morales’ government and insist on the cancellation of a Jan. 25, 2008 referendum on a new constitution that would help him centralize power, run for a second consecutive term and transfer fallow terrain to landless peasants. At least 30 people have been killed in clashes this week, according to authorities (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) – South America’s presidents converged on Chile for an emergency summit Monday aimed at preventing the collapse of Bolivia, whose leftist president has lost control of about half the country and said bloody unrest there amounts to an attempted coup.

Evo Morales said he would explain to his fellow presidents how his political foes in Bolivia’s rich eastern lowlands have mounted a “civic coup,” inciting “crimes against humanity by groups massacring the poorest of my country.”

At least 30 people were killed in political violence last week, prompting Bolivia’s first indigenous president to declare martial law in the rebellious state of Pando – where Morales says thugs used machine guns against his supporters – and seek the arrest of its governor.

Gov. Leopoldo Fernandez denied any responsibility for the deaths, calling it an armed clash between rival groups and accusing Morales of “mounting a farce.”

Morales has lost control over most of eastern Bolivia, where protests have blocked highways and closed border crossings and pipeline sabotage has forced a cutoff of nearly half his nation’s natural gas exports to Brazil.

Read moreBolivia’s President Morales declares martial law in rebellious state

Chinese Baby Formula Scandal Widens

BEIJING — China’s Ministry of Health on Monday announced that two babies have died in recent months and 1,253 others have been sickened by contaminated milk powder in a widening food safety scandal that has exposed persistent weaknesses in the country’s regulatory system.

More than 340 infants remain hospitalized, including 53 in serious condition. Inspection teams are visiting dairy farms and processing centers in the country’s four main milk-producing provinces to ensure that producers are not violating safety standards.

The Chinese authorities have confirmed that the tainted baby formula was laced with melamine, a chemical additive sometimes used to make plastics and fertilizer. Last year, after thousands of pets became ill in the United States, the same chemical was found in pet food and traced to a Chinese ingredient.

Read moreChinese Baby Formula Scandal Widens

Lehman Files Biggest Bankruptcy Case in History

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) — Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank, succumbed to the subprime mortgage crisis it helped create in the biggest bankruptcy filing in history.

The 158-year-old firm, which survived railroad bankruptcies of the 1800s, the Great Depression in the 1930s and the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management a decade ago, filed a Chapter 11 petition with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan today. The collapse of Lehman, which listed more than $613 billion of debt, dwarfs WorldCom Inc.’s insolvency in 2002 and Drexel Burnham Lambert’s failure in 1990.

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China Detains 19 as Toxic Formula Sickens Hundreds of Infants

SHANGHAI – China said Saturday that 19 people had been detained by the police as part of an investigation into how baby formula had become contaminated with an industrial chemical. The formula is implicated in the death of one infant, and at least 432 others have been afflicted with kidney problems.

Read moreChina Detains 19 as Toxic Formula Sickens Hundreds of Infants

Deposit insurance system may face WaMu test

Attention has focused on the danger presented by the failure of Lehman Brothers. But the failure of a commercial bank such as Washington Mutual can have systemic consequences if it threatens a run on other weak banks.

Washington Mutual – the sixth largest bank in the US – has lost more than a third of its market value recently as investors fear it lacks liquidity and capital to survive the credit crisis.

The failure of a bank its size would test the strength of the US deposit insurance system and its ability to maintain the confidence of the nation’s savers.

Read moreDeposit insurance system may face WaMu test

Jobless set to top two million as the UK economy heads for meltdown


A JobCentre office

The true scale of the jobs disaster facing Britain is revealed today as experts issue dire warnings that up to half a million workers will lose their jobs over the next two years, as companies cut costs and scale back investment plans to survive the economic downturn.

Official figures are widely expected to reveal this week that the number of people out of work and claiming benefits increased for a seventh successive month in August.

Finance companies based in London’s Square Mile have already laid off thousands of workers since the US mortgage crisis unleashed chaos in the world’s markets last summer; and the 5,000 UK-based staff at crisis-hit investment bank Lehman Brothers are awaiting news this weekend about how many of them will be made redundant.

Read moreJobless set to top two million as the UK economy heads for meltdown

Pakistan jets sent to confront US drones

Pakistan has ordered its jet fighters to confront any attack by the US-led coalition forces on the tribal belt near the Afghan border.

Air force fighters have carried out sorties in the tribal region for the first time after US missiles attacks killed dozens of civilians, sources said on Saturday.

Air Force Chief Marshal Tanvir Mehmood, meanwhile, said that the Air Force could respond to violation of the country’s air space by the US forces if the government issued orders.

Read morePakistan jets sent to confront US drones

Ex-Minister: Saakashvili Planned South Ossetia Invasion

PARIS (Reuters) – Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili had long planned a military strike to seize back the breakaway region of South Ossetia but executed it poorly, making it easy for Russia to retaliate, Saakashvili’s former defence minister said.

Irakly Okruashvili, Georgia’s leading political exile, said in a weekend interview in Paris that the United States was partly to blame for the war, having failed to check the ambitions of what he called a man with democratic failings.

Saakashvili’s days as president were now numbered, he said.

Read moreEx-Minister: Saakashvili Planned South Ossetia Invasion

McCain’s Court: Change We Don’t Need

Related video: (CNN) Ron Paul’s Major Announcement: Reject Obama and McCain!
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More justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia could be on the way under a McCain presidency. (Flickr: Chris Eversole)

There has been much debate about whether Sen. John McCain is a candidate of change. But in one area, McCain is unquestionably a reformer. He would almost certainly make fundamental changes in the direction of the U.S. Supreme Court.

McCain has said that, should he be president, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito “would serve as the model for my own nominees.” He regularly attacks what he calls “activist judging,” and he described a recent ruling vindicating the right to habeas corpus as “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.” McCain has repeatedly said that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overruled.

Read moreMcCain’s Court: Change We Don’t Need