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Fear of slowing growth as summers’ odds rise

WASHINGTON — The spreading expectation that President Barack Obama will name Lawrence H. Summers to lead the Federal Reserve Board appears to be working against the central bank’s efforts to stimulate the economy.

The jitters even have some analysts betting that a Summers nomination could lead to slower economic growth, less job creation and higher interest rates than if the president named Janet L. Yellen, the Fed’s vice chairwoman.

Businesses raising money and people buying homes and cars all have faced higher interest rates in recent months as the Fed?s campaign to suppress borrowing costs has faltered. The rise in rates reflects optimism that the economy is gaining strength, and an expectation that the Fed will begin to pull back later this year. But a wide range of financial analysts also see evidence of a Summers effect.

Many investors expected that Yellen would be nominated to replace Ben S. Bernanke as head of the central bank, a choice that would have sent a clear message of continuity. Instead, investors are now trying to anticipate how Summers might change the Fed.

—Binyamin Appelbaum, The New York Times

South Korea pledges aid to the north

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea promised $8.4 million worth of aid to North Korea on Monday, a conciliatory gesture that follows recent steps toward easing inter-Korean tensions and reviving economic and humanitarian cooperation.

The South Korean government will provide $6.3 million to help finance the World Health Organization’s efforts to improve medical service for malnourished infants and children in North Korea, the Unification Ministry of South Korea said in a statement. Separately, 12 South Korean private relief groups will be allowed to send a total of $2.1 million worth of medical supplies, baby formula, vitamins, soy milk, stationery and shoes for North Korean children.

The developments follow the two Koreas’ agreement last month to restart a program that reunites family members who were separated by the Korean War six decades ago. The next reunions are scheduled to begin Sept. 25.

—Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times

Still critical, Mandela ends stay in hospital

JOHANNESBURG — Nelson Mandela, the former president, was discharged from a hospital on Sunday after spending 12 weeks there, the South African government said, adding that the ailing anti-apartheid leader remained in precarious health.

“Madiba’s condition remains critical and is at times unstable,” President Jacob Zuma said in a statement, referring to Mandela by his clan name. “Nevertheless, his team of doctors are convinced that he will receive the same level of intensive care at his Houghton home that he received in Pretoria. His home has been reconfigured to allow him to receive intensive care there.”

Mandela, who turned 95 in July, was admitted to a hospital in Pretoria in June to be treated for the recurrence of a lung infection. His condition has ranged from serious to critical, Zuma said, and occasionally doctors have had to use “medical interventions” to stabilize him, the government has said in previous statements.

The latest statement is likely to fuel speculation that Mandela is nearing the end of his life. His family has said that he would prefer to be at home, and the former president has said that he hopes to die in Qunu, the village in the Eastern Cape province where he grew up.

—Lydia Polgreen, The New York Times

Drug agents use vast phone trove eclipsing NSA’s

For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s hotly disputed collection of phone call logs.

The Hemisphere Project, a partnership between federal and local drug officials and AT&T that has not previously been reported, involves an extremely close association between the government and the telecommunications giant.

The government pays AT&T to place its employees in drug-fighting units around the country. Those employees sit alongside Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives and supply them with the phone data from as far back as 1987.

—Scott Shane and Colin Moynihan, The New York Times

6 boys killed while swimming in northern Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Six boys were killed on a swimming outing in northern Afghanistan, apparently the victims of fishermen who fired a rocket into a river, according to Afghan officials and relatives of the victims.

The suspects were identified as policemen, and six of them were arrested, including their commander, 1st Lt. Ahmed Farid, officials said.

The episode took place Saturday in the village of Drumbak, in Baghlan province, when policemen on one side of the Larkhab River fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the water. But the round went astray and exploded among a group of children bathing on the opposite shore, about 50 yards away.

Six boys, ages 9 to 14, were killed instantly; two of them were in the shallow water near the riverbank, and the other four were on the bank. Two other children, a boy and a girl, were wounded.

—Rod Nordland, The New York Times