USA

Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cargo sat idle off the West Coast as port workers were ordered off their jobs for the second time in a labor dispute that could cost the US an estimated $1 billion a day. A frail peace between shipping lines and longshoremen collapsed Sunday when workers were barred indefinitely from the docks at 29 major ports. Economists have warned a protracted disruption will have ripple-effects throughout the US economy.

Cuban officials said they've signed contracts totalling at least $66 million with US food companies at an agribusiness show aimed at making the communist-run island hungry for more American farm products. The four-day exhibition, which ended Monday in Havana, featured 288 exhibitors from 33 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The State Department OK'd the show despite a trade embargo of more than four decades' duration.

Faced with bearish market conditions and increasing layoffs, consumers in August brushed off a slight rise in their incomes and cut back on spending, the Commerce Department reported. It said personal consumption spending, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of the total economic activity, dipped from a 1 percent surge in July to 0.3 percent in August. Incomes rose 0.4 percent in August after making no advance the previous month. This news, combined with a lowered estimate for September same-store sales by Retailing giant Wal-Mart prompted investors to unload stocks, leaving the market on course to log its weakest month in four years.

Prosecutors have reportedly expanded their investigation of Tyco International to include the company's auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers. Investigators are trying to determine whether the US's largest accounting firm knew about secret bonuses that were paid to former Tyco executives as well as accounting practices that regulators have alleged were used to hide the payments, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Demonstrators against a possible US attack on Iraq marched to Vice President Cheney's residence Sunday, capping a weekend of protests in Washington timed to coincide with the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The estimated 2,500 antiwar protesters advanced up embassy row under the watchful eyes of hundreds of police. Outside Cheney's residence, they chalked "No Oil War" on the street. Some 650 protesters were arrested, four for being in possession of explosive devices. Anti-war sentiments were echoed in other rallies around the US. Below, Pokow Chun, at a peace vigil in Seattle, reads information about a coming anti-war march.

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