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forgiveness of about $70 billion in debt - their largest such gesture to date - was agreed to by leaders of the world's wealthiest democracies at their annual summer conference. Meeting in Cologne, Germany, the presidents, chancellors, and prime ministers of the Group of Eight countries OK'd a blueprint for heading off new global economic turmoil by canceling payments owed by 36 of the world's poorest countries. To finance the debt relief, they decided to sell up to 10 million ounces of the International Monetary Fund's 103-million-ounce stockpile of gold.

A $1.5 billion emergency loan-guarantee program for the steel, oil, and natural-gas industries was approved by the US Senate. The program would provide $1 billion in guarantees to steelmakers, which could qualify for loans up to $250 million. Oil and natural-gas producers would have access to $500 million in guarantees and could borrow up to $10 million each. US steel, oil, and natural-gas firms have been hurt by low commodity prices and cheap imports. The legislation now moves to the House.

Compiled by Robert Kilborn and Lance Carden

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