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Briefs (left)

Americans Turn More
Pessimistic on Economy

By Jeremy W. Peters

Americans are more pessimistic than they have been all year about the state of the economy, according to a new report that reflects a widespread view that a period of brisk growth is coming to an end.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that in its monthly survey, American consumer confidence fell sharply in August to its lowest level since last November. The latest index reading of 99.6 was below the 107.0 reported in July, and represented the steepest single-month decline since the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina a year ago.

“Ouch,” wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist with High Frequency Economics, in a research report on the index.

The pace of growth in the American economy has slowed by more than half since the first quarter, and many economists say they think the outlook will grow worse, not least because consumers sense the slowdown and are reining in their spending accordingly.

Britain Charges Three More
With Plotting to Bomb Airplanes

By Alan Cowell


British police charged three more people on Tuesday with major terrorism and conspiracy counts following this month’s alert over what they described as a plot to bomb airliners flying from Britain to the United States.

The charges brought to 11 the number of people accused of conspiring to murder and to bomb airplanes flying to the United States — the most serious charges brought against the suspects embroiled in the alleged conspiracy.

The police announced the charges separately, saying early Tuesday evening that a man identified as Nabeel Hussain had been charged with conspiracy to murder and planning to smuggle “improvised explosive devices onto aircraft and assemble and detonate them on board.” Like the other suspects, Hussain, 22, had earlier been held without charge under British counterterrorism laws.

Several hours later, the police said that two men identified as Mohammed Yasar Gulzar and Mohammed Shamin Uddin had been charged with the same offenses. Gulzar’s name had not previously emerged publicly in the inquiries that led to a huge roundup of suspects on Aug. 10 and set off a terror alert in Britain and the United States.

Pipeline Blast After
Battle Kills Scores

By Paul Von Zielbauer


At least 67 people, including dozens of looters siphoning gasoline from a government pipeline, were killed in an explosion late Monday night after fuel vapor was accidentally ignited by a cigarette lighter, Iraqi police and government officials said.

The death toll from the blast in Diwaniya might increase, said Hamid al-Shuwaili, the health director for Kadisiya province, south of Baghdad..

Dr. Hussain al-Janabi, director of Diwaniya Hospital, said by telephone that witnesses told hospital workers that the spark that ignited the blast came from a different source — a man, they said, who used a lighter to check if his jerry can was full.

As of late Tuesday night, more than 100 people had been killed or found dead in the previous 24 hours, government officials said. In Baghdad, 25 bodies were found, one Iraqi official said; about half of the victims had been bound and killed after apparently being tortured.