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Briefs (left)

U.S. Agency Turf Wars Stymie
War on Terror Finances

By Eric Lichtblau

The government’s efforts to help foreign nations cut off the supply of money to terrorists, a critical goal for the Bush administration, have been stymied by infighting among American agencies, leadership problems and insufficient financing, a new congressional report says.

More than four years after the Sept. 11 attacks, “the U.S. government lacks an integrated strategy” to train foreign countries and provide them with technical assistance to shore up their financial and law enforcement systems against terrorist financing, according to the report prepared by the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress.

The findings expand on earlier concerns raised by that agency and others in the last few years about the government’s ability to cut off money to terrorists. The report is to be released Wednesday, and an advance copy was provided to The New York Times.

The findings produced sharp dissent from U.S. government officials, who said congressional auditors overstated the bureaucratic problems in curbing terrorist financing overseas and the level of dissension between agencies. .

Liberal Party Loses Vote
Of Confidence in Canada

By Clifford Krauss

Canada’s three opposition parties on Monday night voted in the House of Commons to bring down the Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin, contending that the governing party is corrupt.

The 171-133 no-confidence vote had been expected for the last month, since the release of a report by a federal inquiry looking into accusations that the Liberal Party in the late 1990s laundered money and committed fraudulent campaign finance practices in Quebec Province to counter separatist forces. The report said the party had benefited from a kickback scheme.

“In this campaign we will hear nothing but pessimism” from the opposition, Martin said after the vote in a speech that did not mention his party’s scandal. “We will fight for a Canada in which no one is left behind.”

New parliamentary elections will pit Martin against Stephen Harper, the Conservative Party leader, for the second time in less than two years. Neither candidate is particularly charismatic, and neither has captured the public imagination.

“Canadians are counting on you to give them a clean, honest government,” Harper told his party caucus after the vote. “We need an accountable government.”

Merck, Under Pressure,
Will Cut Jobs and Close Plants

By Alex Berenson and Vikas Bajaj

Merck, under pressure from investors and analysts to reduce costs, said Monday it would cut 7,000 jobs in the next three years and close five manufacturing plants in the “first phase” of a broader restructuring.

In a much anticipated announcement, Richard T. Clark, who became Merck’s chief executive in May and promised investors big changes, said the company would cut 11 percent of its staff of 62,000 as it streamlines its operations, particularly how it makes and distributes drugs and vaccines. Clark also said the company was looking at changes to its research and development and marketing and sales activities and would provide more details at Merck’s annual meeting with analysts on Dec. 15.