The Baltimore Sun

Hedge fund regulation gets guarded support

WASHINGTON: Billionaires testifying before Congress yesterday gave guarded support for proposals that would bring greater regulation of hedge funds, the investment funds for the ultra-wealthy being blamed in part for the current global financial turmoil. Five powerful figures in investments told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that hedge funds should be subject to greater oversight. But they stopped short of supporting public reporting of hedge fund data. Lawmakers from both parties agree that greater financial regulation is needed amid the steep slump in global financial markets. But there has not been consensus on what kind of regulation. "Good regulation is good for every market participant," said Kenneth Griffin, chief executive of the Citadel Investment Group, a Chicago-based financial firm whose varied businesses include a top hedge fund.

Gaza City is dark after fuel, food are cut off

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip: Gaza City was dark last night. Officials shut down its only power plant as Israel cut off fuel and food shipments to the Palestinian territory because of renewed rocket attacks. Israel canceled plans to ship in diesel fuel for the plant as well as 30 trucks full of humanitarian supplies after Gaza militants fired at least eight rockets and some mortar shells at Israel yesterday, the military said. Renewed tensions in Gaza have raised the grim prospect of an end to a truce that has stopped most Israeli-Palestinian violence in and around the impoverished seaside territory for five months. The truce began eroding last week when Israeli forces entered Gaza to try destroy what they said was a militants' tunnel. Eleven militants have been killed since, and more than 130 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza at Israel. Israel has clamped a tight blockade on Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas.

First photos are taken of other stars' planets

LOS ANGELES: In the search for Earth-like planets elsewhere in the universe, two teams of astronomers have taken the first pictures of planets orbiting stars other than our sun. The first team, led by University of California, Berkeley researchers, used the Hubble Space Telescope to take a picture of a giant planet orbiting the star Fomalhaut, 25 light-years from Earth. Paul Kalas, the lead astronomer for the team, said he "nearly had a heart attack" when he found the new planet, which he calls Fomalhaut b. The other effort relied on the giant Keck and Gemini telescopes in Hawaii to image three planets surrounding the young star HR8799, 130 light-years - 700 trillion miles - away. Both discoveries were reported yesterday in the journal Science.

Iranian diplomat abducted in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Armed men kidnapped an Iranian diplomat yesterday in Pakistan's northwest, a day after the slaying of an American aid worker - heightening fears that Islamic militants are hunting down foreigners. The Iranian and his Pakistani bodyguard were driving over a narrow bridge in Peshawar when two gunmen blocked their way with a car and opened fire, said Banaras Khan, a police investigator who quoted a witness. The attackers fled with the diplomat, and the guard was killed. On Wednesday, gunmen shot and killed American aid worker Stephen Vance as he was traveling to work in Peshawar, a vital city for both the government and aid agencies where security has been crumbling. Officials identified the diplomat as Heshmatollah Atharzadeh, a commercial attache. Iran's Foreign Ministry denounced the abduction as a "terrorist act."

Bridge collapse blamed on undersized plates

WASHINGTON: Safety investigators singled out undersized steel plates yesterday as the chief cause of the deadly collapse of a highway bridge in Minneapolis on Aug. 1, 2007. But contractors working on the bridge had stored construction material on the center span over the Mississippi River, and that additional weight contributed to the collapse that killed 13 people and injured 145, they said. Federal investigators told the National Transportation Safety Board that the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge was unavoidable once gusset plates in the center span failed. The plates helped connect the bridge's steel beams. "Had the gusset plates been properly sized, this bridge would still be there," said Bruce Magladry, director of the NTSB's office of highway safety.

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