USA

Thousands of protesters demonstrated in Miami outside the building where talks were taking place to create a free trade zone for North and South America. Negotiators approved a draft text Wednesday of an agreement to create a 34-nation Free Trade Area of the Americas. In Washington, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned that "creeping protectionism" could jeopardize the nation's ability to erect trade barriers without negative consequences. Greenspan said ballooning trade deficits have not yet hurt the US economy, and he did not single out any protectionist moves. But his announcement followed criticism of the Bush administration for imposing high tariffs on steel and its decision this week to limit certain types of Chinese textiles and clothing.

Lawmakers from both parties overwhelmingly approved legislation to overhaul the $7 trillion mutual-fund industry with measures aimed at preventing trading abuses such as those recently uncovered. The House bill would impose penalties against fund trading abuses, make directors on company boards more independent from fund managers, and require companies to disclose more information to investors about fees and fund operations.

An investigation into the nation's worst blackout found that a computer malfunction at Akron, Ohio, based FirstEnergy Corp. was to blame for the Aug. 14 outage that spread through eight states and Canada. A US-Canadian task force reported that power grid operators were inadequately trained and computer problems in the control room kept them from recognizing immediately that failures on three lines were causing instability on the Midwestern power grid.

Authorities are investigating whether conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh illegally funneled money to buy prescription painkillers, a Florida law enforcement source said Wednesday on condition of anonymity. In his third day back on the air after drug treatment, Limbaugh responded with a blanket denial of the allegations first reported Tuesday by ABC News. "I was not laundering money. I was withdrawing money, for crying out loud," Limbaugh said.

Michael Jackson was expected to surrender to Santa Barbara, Calif., authorities to face child molestation charges, said the pop star's attorney Brian Oxman. Jackson's arrest warrant set bail at $3 million and the singer was directed to give up his passport, authorities said. Family friend Steve Manning told ABC News that Jackson feels "he's been wrongly accused and he's going to fight this tooth and nail." Jackson faced similar allegations 10 years ago when he paid a multimillion-dollar settlement to an alleged victim.

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