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USA UK and Malta News
10/04/2008 - 23:52

USA today Editoweb, 10 april 2008

Gates: US troops won't drop to 100,000 - McCain Says Oil Prices Too High to Buy for SPR - Increase in trade deficit raises concern - Slaughterhouse gets $67M recall bill - Storms sweep through Ark., Okla., Texas.

Gates: US troops won't drop to 100,000
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday he sees no chance that the number of U.S. troops in Iraq will drop to 100,000 by the end of the year, guaranteeing a heavy American military presence as the war grinds into its sixth year to the end of the Bush presidency. President Bush said his top commander can take "all the time he needs" to consider further withdrawals after July. Bush said Gen. David Petraeus will finish the ongoing pullout of 20,000 of the U.S. troops sent to the fight last year, but then slam the brakes on more drawdowns at the end of July.

McCain Says Oil Prices Too High to Buy for SPR
Sen. John McCain is calling for the U.S. to stop adding oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, making him the highest profile Republican to break with the Bush administration on its policy of expanding the emergency stockpile. In an economic speech this afternoon, the Republican presidential candidate said that oil prices are too high to continue filling the reserve.

Increase in trade deficit raises concern
The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly increased for a second straight month in February, raising concerns that the economy's one standout performer could be starting to flag. The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the deficit between what the U.S. imports and what it sells abroad rose 5.7 percent to $63.2 billion in February, the highest level since November. Imports of goods and services shot up 3.1 percent to an all-time high of $213.7 billion, reflecting a big surge in imports of foreign cars. Exports also set a record, rising by 2 percent to $151.4 billion, reflecting strong gains in the sale of American-made heavy machinery, computers and farm goods.

Slaughterhouse gets $67M recall bill
The federal government said Thursday it has billed a California slaughterhouse more than $67 million for expenses associated with the largest beef recall in U.S. history. The Department of Agriculture recalled 143 million pounds of beef in February after the Humane Society of the United States released undercover video showing plant employees abusing sick or weakened cows at the Chino-based Westland/Hallmark Co. An agency review found that some of the so-called "downer" cows were slaughtered in violation of USDA policy, which prompted the recall.

Storms sweep through Ark., Okla., Texas
A band of hail, heavy rain and twisters pounded Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma Thursday, damaging hundreds of homes, flooding roads and leaving thousands without power. Arkansas already was contending with three weeks of flooding and the aftermath of 10 tornadoes that struck last week when the latest storm hit. "It's just getting worse," sheriff's dispatcher Nola Massey said. "We're just trying to get everybody to stay home and not get out in it." About 1,000 customers of Entergy Arkansas lost power and tornado sirens blared around midday in parts of central Arkansas, including Little Rock. Flooding also was reported in southwest Missouri as storms crossed the region.

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