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Anger and grief across Karachi after factory fire

KARACHI, Pakistan — The towering metal door at the back of the burned-out garment factory could have been an escape for many of the low-paid textile workers caught in the fire here Tuesday. Instead, it stands as a testament to greed and corruption at a factory where 289 trapped employees died.

Instead of letting the workers escape, several survivors said Thursday, plant managers forced them to stay in order to save the company’s stock: piles of stonewashed jeans, destined for Europe.

“They prevented people from leaving, so they could save the clothes,” said Shahzad, a stone-faced man in sweat-drenched clothes, standing in the blacked corridors of the factory. Karachi buried its dead Thursday amid grief and recrimination over the deadliest industrial accident in Pakistan’s 65-year history.

At the factory, known as Ali Enterprises, rescue workers quenched the last flames 48 hours after they started. Volunteers cast bundles of smoldering jeans, apparently destined for shops in Germany, from a first-floor window.

Meanwhile, the police spent a second day hunting the factory’s three owners, who now face possible charges of conspiracy to commit murder.

—Declan Walsh, The New York Times

Events abroad take bigger slice of campaign debate

GOLDEN, Colo. — President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney entered new political terrain Thursday as their campaign debate moved more solidly onto issues of foreign policy.

With the killings of four U.S. diplomats in Libya thrusting foreign policy to the forefront of the race, Romney sought to broaden his indictment of Obama’s approach to the world a day after he was roundly criticized for his initial reaction to the president’s handling of the crisis in Libya and Egypt.

But officials in the Obama campaign were almost welcoming the fight, saying they were glad to be challenged on what they now consider the comfortable territory of foreign policy. In spite of the rapidly unfolding events in the Mideast, Obama decided to continue his campaign schedule, and he spent the second day of what was to be an upbeat swing through the politically vital Mountain West on Thursday balancing the somber tone that a foreign policy crisis demands and the partisan speech that 8,000 Coloradans came to hear in Golden.

At an outdoor rally, Obama began with a sad reminder of the four Americans’ deaths in Libya.

“Obviously, our hearts are heavy this week,” Obama said. But he vowed to his wider television audience, “I want people around the world to hear me — to all those who would do us harm: No act of terror will go unpunished,” adding, “no act of violence shakes the resolve of the United States of America.”

—Jim Rutenberg and Ashley Parker, The New York Times

Investors wary over
giant aerospace deal

LONDON — Shares of the European aerospace giants EADS and BAE Systems tumbled Thursday as investors reacted negatively to the announced merger talks between the two companies.

A leading shareholder in EADS, which is the parent of Airbus, also said it would have to review the consequences of the potential merger before making a decision about the deal.

If completed, the deal would create an industry giant with a combined market value of almost $50 billion, annual revenue of more than $90 billion; it would employ around 220,000 people worldwide. Shares in EADS fell 10.2 percent by the close of trading in Paris on Thursday, while stock in BAE Systems, which is listed in London, dropped 7.3 percent.

—Mark Scott, The New York Times