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More Than 300 People Die in 2 Pakistan Factory Fires

© Rehan Khan/European Pressphoto Agency
A man searched for the body of a relative at a mortuary after 166 people died in a fire on Wednesday in Karachi, Pakistan.
Karachi, Pakistan - Fire ravaged a textile factory complex in the commercial hub of Karachi early Wednesday, killing almost 300 workers trapped behind locked doors and raising questions about the woeful lack of regulation in a vital sector of Pakistan's faltering economy.

It was Pakistan's worst industrial accident on record, officials said, and it came just hours after another fire, at a shoe factory in the eastern city of Lahore, had killed at least 25.

Flames and acrid smoke swept quickly through the cramped textile factory in Baldia Town, a northwestern industrial suburb, creating panic among the hundreds of poorly paid workers who had been making undergarments and plastic tools.

They had few options of escape - every exit but one had been locked, officials said, and the windows were mostly barred. In desperation, some flung themselves from the top floors of the four-story building, sustaining serious injuries or worse, witnesses said. But many others failed to make it that far, trapped by an inferno that advanced mercilessly through a building that officials later described as a death trap.

Rescue workers said most of the victims died of smoke inhalation, and many of the survivors sustained third-degree burns. As firefighters advanced into the wreckage during the day, battling back flames, they found dozens of bodies clumped together in the lower floors.

One survivor, Muhammad Aslam, said he heard two loud blasts before the factory filled first with smoke, then with the desperate screams of his fellow workers. "Only one entrance was open. All the others were closed," he said at a hospital, describing scenes of panic and chaos.

Mr. Aslam, who was being treated for a broken leg, said he saved himself by leaping from a third-floor window.

Hundreds of anguished relatives gathered at the site, many of them sobbing and shouting as they desperately sought news. Some impeded the rescue operation, and baton-wielding police officers tried to disperse the crowd but failed.


Council Members Consider Police Surveillance Video On Television

There are hundreds of television channels out there, but in one Bucks County community, there could soon be another. People may soon be able to watch a video feed of a police security camera - from their couch.

"I personally don't like being viewed as I'm coming out my door," said Bashean Baxter of Bristol Borough.

Police surveillance cameras are constantly watching you.

"Doesn't bother me one way or the other," said Mary Ann Smoyer.

But what if you had access to what police are viewing?

Arrow Down

Agent Orange Victims Get Scientology 'Detox' Treatment

Agent Orange
© Veteran's Today
The Vietnamese government is turning to a "detoxification" method developed by the founder of the Church of Scientology to treat victims of Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant the U.S. military used during the Vietnam War.

According to local media reports, 24 patients from the central city of Da Nang were admitted to the Hanoi 103 Military Hospital last week to begin a free, month-long treatment to rid the body of dioxins that have been linked to birth defects, cancers and other diseases.

The "Hubbard Method," named after L. Ron Hubbard, requires taking vitamins and minerals, exercising and sweating in saunas. Scientologists have used it to treat alcoholism and drug addiction in the past, and offered similar services to New York City's first responders who were exposed to toxins in the 9/11 terror attacks.

Vietnam is the first country to apply the method on Agent Orange victims, according to Hoang Manh An, the director of the hospital carrying out the detoxification.

Arrow Down

Exorcism Boom in Poland Sees Magazine Launch

Father Andrzej Grefkowski
© PAP/Tomasz Gzell
Exorcist Father Andrzej Grefkowski.
Warsaw: With exorcism booming in Poland, Roman Catholic priests here have joined forces with a publisher to launch what they claim is the world's first monthly magazine focused exclusively on chasing out the devil.

"The rise in the number or exorcists from four to more than 120 over the course of 15 years in Poland is telling," Father Aleksander Posacki, a professor of philosophy, theology and leading demonologist and exorcist told reporters in Warsaw at the Monday launch of the Egzorcysta monthly.

Ironically, he attributed the rise in demonic possessions in what remains one of Europe's most devoutly Catholic nations partly to the switch from atheist communism to free market capitalism in 1989.

"It's indirectly due to changes in the system: capitalism creates more opportunities to do business in the area of occultism. Fortune telling has even been categorised as employment for taxation," Posacki told AFP.

"If people can make money out of it, naturally it grows and its spiritual harm grows too," he said, hastening to add authentic exorcism is absolutely free of charge.

Posacki, who also serves on an international panel of expert Roman Catholic exorcists, highlighted what he termed the "helplessness of various schools of psychology and psychiatry" when confronted with extreme behaviours that conventional therapies fail to cure.


US Teachers' Strike To Enter Day 3; Union Boss Calls Progress 'Glacial'

© Scott Olson/Getty Images
Chicago public school teachers and their supporters picket in front of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) headquarters on the second day of a teachers’ strike on September 11, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.
UPDATED 09/11/12 - 10:20 p.m.

CTU President Karen Lewis Doubtful A Deal To End Strike Will Be Done On Wednesday

The Chicago teachers' strike will head into its third day on Wednesday, after the latest round of talks ended Tuesday night without a deal to bring teachers back to work, and the head of the Chicago Teachers Union describing their progress as "glacial."

Talks between Chicago Public Schools officials and the union ended around 8 p.m. Tuesday, after negotiators spent all day trying to hammer out an agreement on a new teacher evaluation system.

After negotiations ended Tuesday night, Chicago Teachers Union Karen Lewis said progress toward a deal was "glacial."

CBS 2′s Dana Kozlov reports it was clear even before talks officially ended for the day that no deal was likely on Tuesday, and perhaps not even on Wednesday.

"We have been working hard on evaluations all day. There has not been as much movement as we would hope," Lewis said shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday. "There's been - let's put it this way, centimeters, and we're still kilometers apart."


Pakistan factory fires kill 105 workers

A fire raced through a garment factory in the Pakistani city of Karachi overnight killing up to 80 people, while another fire in a shoe factory in Lahore killed at least 25 people, police and government officials said on Wednesday.

"People started screaming for their lives," said Mohammad Asif, 20, a worker at the Karachi factory. "Everyone came to the window. I jumped from the third floor."

The fires could raise fresh questions about Pakistan's industrial safety. Critics say the government is too corrupt and ineffective to tackle an array of problems, from struggling industries to suicide bombings in the South Asian nation.

Senior Superintendent of Police Amir Farooqi told Reuters that police were raiding parts of Karachi to search for the factory owners.

Farooqi said 35 people were injured in the garment factory fire and bodies were still being recovered from the facility which employed about 450 people.

The latest death toll was up to 80, according to Provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon.

The cause of the garment factory fire was not clear.

"Within two minutes there was fire in the entire factory," said factory worker Liaqat Hussain, 29, from his hospital bed where he was being treated for full-body burns.

"The gate was closed. There was no access to get out we were trapped inside."

Comment: Update: As of 11:00 am EST, the death toll is 314.


Mob sets fire to US consulate in Libya, staffer dies

An armed mob protesting over a film they said offended Islam, attacked the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi.
© Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters
Protesters outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo demonstrate their outrage over a movie produced in the U.S. they say insults the Prophet Muhammad.
An American staff member of the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi has died following fierce clashes at the compound, Libyan security sources said on Wednesday.

"One American staff member has died and a number have been injured in the clashes," Abdel-Monem Al-Hurr, spokesman for Libya's Supreme Security Committee, said, adding that he did not know the exact number of injured and could not say what the cause of death was.

An armed mob protesting over a film they said offended Islam, attacked the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Tuesday and set fire to the building, witnesses reported.

The attack happened on the same day as a similar group of hardliners waving black banners attacked the US embassy in Cairo and tore down the US flag, but it was not immediately clear if the two incidents were coordinated.


Cairo protesters scale U.S. Embassy wall, remove flag

© The Associated Press/Mohammed Abu Zaid
Demonstrators destroy an American flag pulled down from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today in protest of a film deemed offensive to Islam.
Egyptian demonstrators climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today and pulled down the American flag to protest a film they say is insulting to the prophet Mohammad.

Update at 2:07 p.m. ET: CNN reports that U.S. security guards fired a volley of warning shots as the crowd gathered outside the embassy walls.

CNN adds that the embassy had been expecting a demonstration and cleared all diplomatic personnel earlier from the facility.

Original post: The Associated Press reports that embassy officials say there was no staff inside at the time.

Reuters reports that protesters tried to raise a black flag carrying the slogan: "There is no god but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger."

The news agency says about 2,000 protesters have gathered outside the embassy and about 20 have scaled the walls.

The AP says the protesters were largely ultra-conservative Islamists.

Iran's FARS news agency says the film is the work of a group of "extremist" members of the Egyptian Coptic Church in the United States.

Arrow Up

Spain Refuses Bailout Terms

© Diego Crespo/EPA
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy answers journalists questions during a rare TV interview.
Mariano Rajoy puts Spain on collision course with ECB after ruling out any bailout terms despite bank president's insistence

Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, has said he is more determined than ever to avoid having to ask for a bailout - despite the insistence last week by ECB president, Mario Draghi, that it would be a condition of the central bank helping to keep down a country's borrowing costs.

"If there is one overriding priority for creating employment it's reducing the public deficit. That is far more important than what people like to call a bailout," Rajoy said in a televised interview on Monday night.

Draghi announced last week that the bank would buy unlimited quantities of sovereign debt to ensure eurozone governments retained access to funding, but he made it clear that there would be strings attached. However, Rajoy said he was not prepared to accept such conditions. "I couldn't accept anyone else telling us what our policies should be or where we have to make cuts," he said.


Alps Shootings: How French Press Buried the Story

© Laurent Cipriani/AP
Flowers on the crime scene four people were killed in the French Alps. The French press treated the story as small in comparison to front-page headlines on British pages.
Murder of British family and French cyclist seen by Gallic press as small story despite hitting front pages in UK newspapers

For the French press, the murder of a British family and a French cyclist on the edge of an Alpine forest was what is known as a "fait divers", a term mostly used to describe a trivial miscellaneous news item.

Reports of the multiple killing emerged well in time for newspaper deadlines on both sides of the Channel. However, it made front-page headlines on Thursday only in Britain.

Libération, the leading leftwing daily newspaper, carried a short report on page 14 under the headline: "Unexplained carnage in Haute-Savoie", while its rival, the right-of-centre Le Figaro relegated the story to page 8. Even on Friday, when one of the victims had been identified as a local Frenchman, father-of-three Sylvain Mollier, who happened to be cycling past when he was gunned down, only the local papers and the national tabloid Aujourd'hui put the story on the front page.