SAN FRANCISCO

Olympic torch route cut short to avoid crowds

The Olympic torch was rerouted away from thousands of demonstrators and spectators who crowded the city’s waterfront yesterday to witness the flame’s symbolic journey to the Beijing Games.

The first torchbearer took the flame from a lantern brought to the stage and held it aloft before running into a warehouse. A motorcycle escort departed, but the torchbearer was nowhere in sight.

Then officials drove the Olympic torch about a mile inland and handed it off to two runners away from protesters and media.

BAGHDAD

Off-target mortar shells hit civilian homes

Errant mortar shells slammed into houses and a funeral tent Wednesday, leaving three children among the dead during clashes in a Shiite militia stronghold under siege by American and Iraqi forces on the fifth anniversary of the U.S. capture of the capital.

The fighting came as the U.S. military announced the deaths of five more soldiers. That raised the number of American troop deaths to 17 since Sunday.

Many Iraqis said hopes that followed the U.S.-led ouster of Saddam Hussein have been quashed.

“On this day five years ago we were dreaming of a bright future, but now we know that our dream has turned into a long nightmare,” said Khalid Ibrahim, a 45-year-old teacher from the mainly Sunni area of Azamiyah

BANGKOK

Illegal workers die en route to job site, 47 survive

Fifty-four illegal migrant workers from Myanmar suffocated in the back of a seafood truck in southern Thailand while being smuggled to the popular resort island of Phuket, police said Thursday

An additional 47 workers survived the incident late Wednesday in Ranong province and flagged down police for help, police Col. Kraithong Chanthongbai said. Twenty-one were hospitalized while the rest were detained for questioning, he said.

“When police got to the scene, they found that 54 of the workers were already dead in the packed container truck,” Kraithong said.

Of the dead, 37 were women and 17 were men. Police did not immediately know what jobs they were heading for.

WASHINGTON

Bernanke says recession possible

For the first time, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke acknowledged the U.S. could reel into recession from the powerful punches of housing, credit and financial crises. Yet, he was coy about the Fed’s next move.

With home foreclosures swelling to record highs and job losses mounting, Bernanke on Wednesday offered Congress an unflinching – and more pessimistic – assessment of potential damage to the national economy.

“A recession is possible,” said Bernanke, who is under immense political and public pressure to turn things around. “Our estimates are that we’re slightly growing at the moment, but we think that there’s a chance that for the first half as a whole there might be a slight contraction.”

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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