The NewsFuror

Monday, October 8, 2007

Standard & Poor's index tops high

The Standard & Poor's 500 index ended the week at a record high, boosted by robust US job figures.

The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.96% to end at a record 1,557.59. Earlier, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq had hit record intraday levels.

Data showed more jobs were added in the US during September than had been forecast while August employment data was revised upwards.

The data was welcome news after earlier figures showed the economy was slowing.

Orders for US factory goods saw their largest drop in seven months in August, US Commerce Department data showed a day earlier.

Overall picture

"From the jobs numbers that we got today, we saw that most of the economy is actually doing a lot better than people thought it was doing," said Cleveland Rueckert, market analyst at Birinyi Associates.

TJ Marta, an economic strategist with RBC Capital Markets, echoed this, saying: "We're not seeing a weakening of the labour market. There's no indication that the wheels are falling off."

Gainers on the Nasdaq included Brillian, up 25.6%, while Neopharm added 20%.

In addition Research in Motion, the maker of Blackberry devices, saw shares 12.7% higher after second-quarter profits more than doubled.

Earlier on Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record intraday high of 14,124.54 while the Nasdaq rose to 2,784.93 - its highest since January 2001.

Brian Wilson to make ballet debut

Former Beach Boy Brian Wilson is to perform with the English National Ballet at a royal gala in London.

The company has created a new dance piece to accompany his classic song God Only Knows, from the legendary Pet Sounds album.

Dancers will perform as Wilson and his band sing at the performance at the InterContinental London hotel in Park Lane, attended by the Duke of York.

"Brian is very excited and honoured," said his spokesman.

"He is also very much looking forward to seeing English National Ballet perform to his favourite composition."

The gala is being held to celebrate the ENB's new production of The Snow Queen and will raise vital funds for the company.

Wilson has had a career resurgence in recent years, after descending into severe mental illness in the late 1960s.

In 2004, he released his version of the long-lost Beach Boys record Smile - which was originally abandoned after Wilson suffered a breakdown brought on by drug use.

Since then, he has toured regularly with backing band The Wondermints, appearing at the Glastonbury and Roskilde festivals amongst others.

The 65-year-old musician recently unveiled his latest composition, That Lucky Old Sun, during a six-night residency at London's Royal Festival Hall.

Britney names new album Blackout

Troubled pop star Britney Spears has revealed that her first studio album in four years will be called Blackout.

The title "refers to blocking out negativity and embracing life fully," said the star's record label Jive.

Spears' comeback single, Gimme More, is already number three in the US singles chart - despite the singer's disastrous performance at last month's MTV awards.

The star's erratic behaviour in recent months culminated in her losing custody of her two sons earlier this week.

Her ex-husband, Kevin Federline, was awarded custody after Spears failed to produce her driving licence and missed a test for drugs and alcohol.

She was granted visitation rights - but must be monitored at all times when she is with Sean Preston, two, and Jayden James, one.

'Soap opera'

The singer's latest setback follows a year of unfavourable headlines after her separation from Mr Federline last November.

She has spent several stints in rehab, shaved off her hair in full view of the paparazzi at a Los Angeles tattoo parlour, and separated from her management company.

In September, she was charged with hit-and-run and driving without a valid licence - and could face six months in jail and a $1,000 (£495) fine if convicted.

The singer, 25, is due to release her album on 12 November in the UK and the following day in the US.

Jive Records says Spears will not be making the usual round of promotional appearances ahead of the release.

"It's not Jive's place to fashion a public-relations campaign with respect to Britney's personal issues," label spokesman Allan Mayer told MTV, "but Jive does care about her and does support her.

"There's no question that when you have someone at this level of celebrity, they become like cartoons or soap-opera characters, and we forget that they're human beings.

"People say that's the trade you make - that you have to give up your privacy or the ability to lead a normal life - but sometimes you make that bargain before you realize what it entails and it's too late."

Zeppelin tickets 'may be refused'

Led Zeppelin fans have been told they may be refused entry to the band's reunion gig if they paid for tickets using someone else's credit card.

Several thousand people won a password allowing them to purchase tickets in a lottery draw earlier this week.

But promoters now say that tickets will be cancelled if the password holder's name is not the same as the one on the card used to pay for the tickets.

Fans have reacted angrily, claiming the terms changed after they made payments.

They say it was not made clear that the passwords were non-transferable in the initial email sent to ballot winners.

"There were no stipulations in respect of who could pay for, and thus claim, the tickets," wrote Dandu, from Canada, in an email to the BBC.

A second email, clarifying the terms and conditions, was apparently sent out several hours later - by which time many fans had already bought their tickets.

Tackling touts

If you think that you can beat the system... you are wrong
Harvey Goldsmith
Promoter Harvey Goldsmith has defended the move on his website.

"It is painfully obvious that if the ticket is not transferable then the method of obtaining the ticket is not transferable either," he wrote.

Tickets for the show, on 26 November at London's O2 arena, cost £125 each, plus booking fee.

It will see the three remaining members of Led Zeppelin play together for the first time since 1988.

Pete Townshend, Bill Wyman and Paolo Nutini will also perform at the show, which is a tribute to Ahmet Ertegun, the late founder of Atlantic Records.

Goldsmith said the strict rules surrounding the ticket sales were intended to deter touts charging inflated prices for the eagerly-anticipated gig.

"If you think that you can beat the system by buying from eBay or any other website you are wrong, you will not be allowed in to the concert and your application for tickets will be cancelled within the next 14 days," he said.

"I have no interest in supporting parasite businesses who prevent fans from supporting their artists by the increased price of the tickets and who ultimately put nothing whatsoever back into our business to support it."

'Justified explanation'

But fans have challenged Goldsmith's comments, saying the rules target "genuine fans" who do not own a credit card.

"I used my mother's credit card," wrote Jimmy on the promoter's website. "It has the same billing address and surname as myself.

"I will be able to produce this credit card when picking up the tickets, which was the only stipulation spelled out in your original email.

"I contacted Ticketmaster and they have told me that my tickets will likely be cancelled."

Another fan, using the name meerlorre, added that he could not legally own a credit card because he was under 18 - but had not been prevented for registering for the ticket ballot.

However, Goldsmith advised fans facing such dilemmas to "contact us and give us a justified explanation" in order to retain their tickets.

Argentina v Scotland

Kick-off: 2000 BST

2149: "The Pumas fans are going crazy. The Argentine players have a huddle in the middle of the pitch before joining their countrymen in the stands. The party is about to begin. What a story this is."
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at the Stade de France

2146: "Congratulations Pumas! Scotland have given a good account of themselves. Obviously disappointed to lose, but at least we got to the quarters and didn't disgrace ourselves.

"Good luck to Argentina for the rest of the tournament."
RR on 606

2143: "Scotland may have lost, but they have nothing to be ashamed of. Another close, entertaining game!

"I'm not entirely sure that the Boks will have seen much there to worry them though..."
OFR on 606

80 mins: Agustin Pichot gets his timing a bit wrong, hoping for the final whistle as he dilly-dallies in his own 22. Scotland get a scrum with their final attack of the match but a knock-on brings the match to a close and Argentina are through to the last four.

Scotland will be left rueing their failure to make their chances stick - this was a game they could have won, but the opportunity is gone.

78 mins: Scotland's forwards go through drive after drive before giving out to the backs, and the pack may well wish they hadn't.

Dan Parks puts a chip kick up for Sena Lamont to chase but there are two covering defenders and the kick was out beyond the touchline. Will they get another chance?

76 mins: Scotland win another kickable penalty when Patricio Albacete dives on top of Sean Lamont on the floor.

With time running out, Dan Parks is told to kick to the corner and he obliges with a brilliant kick to within 5m of the line. We're in for a grandstand finish.

73 mins: Scotland win a penalty as Argentina go in at the side. Dan Parks kicks it to within 7m of the Argentina try-line.

But the line-out goes all wrong as the ball goes over Scott MacLeod's head and Argentina gobble it up.

71 mins: Juan Martin Hernandez is a lucky fella as he sends out a suicidal flick out of the back of his hand to a slipping Felipe Contepomi. Fortunately for the Pumas, Contepomi gets fingertips to it and controls it with his neck (it's difficult to describe) before regaining full control and setting the ball up.

In an alternative universe, that crazy pass went a few inches higher and behind Contepomi and Scotland went through to score under the posts.

70 mins: Another knock-on from Agustin Pichot at the base of the ruck gives Scotland another reprieve.

67 mins: Scotland bring on Hugo Southwell and Scott Lawson, so they have no more substitutions left to make. It's all or nothing.

Meanwhile, Argentina knock on at the base of a ruck as they try to improve the angle for a drop-goal attempt with a series of drives. Scotland need to make the most of that let-off.

65 mins: A horrible error from Scotland full-back Rory Lamont as he lets a kick close to the touchline slide through his fingers and out into touch. Neither of the Lamont brothers has had much to laugh about so far, but there's still time for all that to change.

63 mins: Almost straight from the kick-off, Juan Martin Henandez gets the chance to have a pot at a drop-goal but the kick goes just wide.

62 mins: TRY Argentina 19-13 Scotland
Scotland show that they can play a bit of rugby when the mood takes them.

Craig Smith makes the initial dent but knocks-on. Argentina's Ignacio Corleto chips ahead with the loose ball but Chris Paterson cleans up and launches another wave of attack.

The ball is passed in and out of contact with Fijian-like abandon before Kelly Brown gives the scoring pass to replacement Chris Cusiter in the corner.

Paterson curls in a crucial conversion from the touchline, with the ball coming off the post.

59 mins: Juan Martin Hernandez is doing pretty much whatever he wants with his kicks at the moment, with his latest effort leaving Sean Lamont helpless to do anything other than watch the ball sail just out of his reach.

58 mins: "I feel the Scots are static, not a lot of running with the ball, same as the All Blacks. There's not much initiative and the Pumas dictate the game they want to play. 19-6 and it looks easy going, doesn't it?" Walgert on 606

56 mins: Scotland coach Frank Hadden makes four changes at once, with Chris Cusiter, Craig Smith, Scott MacLeod and Kelly Brown all joining the fray.

They need to make an impact quickly if Scotland are to get back into this game.

53 mins: DROP-GOAL Argentina 19-6 Scotland
This is starting to turn into the Juan Martin Hernandez Show as he follows up an absolutely exquisite touch finder with a drop-goal.

It's a slightly scruffy effort, but it just about makes it through the posts.

The touch finder is worth a par of its own though. The fly-half goes back in the pocket and fires a perfect spiral kick over the head of Sean Lamont which rolls into touch two feet from the corner flag. Brilliant.

51 mins: Juan Martin Hernandez shows there is more to his game than just kicking the ball up in the air.

He sends out an extravagent looping pass to put Felipe Contepomi into space and the centre takes it up before giving the pass to Ignacio Corleto. The pass is just a little too hard though and the ball goes forward, but it's a definite warning sign for Scotland.

49 mins: Excellent quick hands down the blind-side sees Rory Lamont power down the flank but the opportunity goes in a second after Patricio Albacete bursts through the middle of the ruck to snaffle possession.

47 mins: Andrew Henderson takes the ball at pace and gets over the gainline, winning a penalty after Argentina's tacklers refuse to roll away.

It's a long-range kick from just inside the Argentina half, so Dan Parks is given the kicking duties. But his kick is short and wide, and his 100% kicking record goes out the window.

45 mins: A bad misjudgement from Sean Lamont gives Argentina a promising attacking position. Agustin Pichot kicks up the touchline and Lamont sticks out a flailing hand and succeeds only in knocking it into touch and giving Argentina the throw.

43 mins: PEN Argentina 16-6 Scotland
Argentina put the penalty out for a line-out and from the resulting maul, Scotland's pack drags down the rolling maul.

Felipe Contepomi slots the kick and Argentina, without having needed to do anything special, are comfortably in front.

41 mins: Dan Parks kicks off for Scotland, who have Andrew Henderson on in the centre in place of Rob Dewey.

A terrible kick up in the air from Mike Blair goes slightly backwards and leads to a penalty for offside against his team.

2049: "I reckon Scotland have got away with it on the scoreboard. Obviously it's a shame about the needless try, but they have been at least seven points better than us.

"One charge-down went their way, the one at the other end bounced for them too. Third time lucky?!"
Hawick on 606

40 mins: The half-time whistle is sounded with Argentina prop Rodrigo Roncero rather agitated about something or other. The referee gets himself in between Roncero and the Scottish pack and Pumas captain Agustin Pichot quickly calms the situation down.

If truth be told, it's been a fairly tedious 40 minutes so far, although perhaps we've been spoiled by the dramatic matches we've been treated to already this weekend.

38 mins: A great scrum from Scotland inside their 22 as they take one against the head and then win a penalty as Argentina's back row disengages before the ball is out.

36 mins: PEN Argentina 13-6 Scotland
Argentina are penalised at the breakdown and it gives Chris Paterson the chance to kick his first points of the game and maintain his 100% record in the tournament.

34 mins: Sean Lamont takes the ball into contact and just has it ripped from his grasp by opposite man Horacio Agulla. Scotland need to keep hold of the ball better than that.

32 mins: TRY & CONVERSION Argentina 13-3 Scotland
Disaster for Scotland as they hand Argentina seven points on a plate.

Dan Parks takes too long as he tries to clear inside his own 22 and has his kick charged down by Argentina number eight Gonzalo Longo who then regathers the loose ball from under the nose of Sean Lamont and scores.

Felipe Contepomi nails the conversion and Argentina stretch the lead.

29 mins: "It's percentage rugby from both teams, and Argentina are just that bit better at it than Scotland. They are getting the physical nudge on all the time.

"We need to break up the game, tap penalties and the like."
hawick on 606

26 mins: PEN Argentina 6-3 Scotland
Juan Martin Hernandez misses badly with a drop-goal attempt which is fielded 15m to the right of the posts by Rory Lamont.

There should be no danger, but he seems to hesitate and is quickly caught in possession and then penalised for a "squeeze-ball" where he tries to feed the possession back to his team-mates.

Felipe Contepomi slots the resulting penalty to put Argentina ahead, but Lamont clearly feels aggrieved. Did he call a mark which went unheard by the referee?

24 mins: Argentina have a kick charged down inside their own 22 but are relieved to see the loose ball bounce into the hands of their full-back Ignacio Corleto.

21 mins: PEN Argentina 3-3 Scotland
Juan Martin Hernandez, who seems to be at the centre of everything so far, takes the ball into contact and is caught by a clumsy high tackle from Nathan Hines.

The resulting penalty is struck with assurance by Felipe Contepomi and sails between the posts to level the score.

19 mins: Argentina drive 15m with a rolling maul off a line-out on halfway but Scotland reorganise well to stop the Pumas' progress.

16 mins: PEN Argentina 0-3 Scotland
Scotland take the lead as they get points on the board with their first chance of the match.

Mike Blair claims a brave take under the high ball and Argentina's hands in the ruck give Dan Parks the chance to strike from just inside the halfway line.

14 mins: Scotland infringe at the line-out, to give Felipe Contepomi his first shot at goal but his effort from the 15m line goes wide of the posts.

12 mins: Another scrum goes down and this time it's a penalty against Scotland, with Euan Murray singled out bythe referee for a talking to.

Juan Martin Hernandez fires a penalty to within a couple of inches of the corner flag for a superb touch, giving Argentina a line-out 5m out.

10 mins: Sean Lamont busts a couple of tackles and releases the ball to Simon Webster who runs crossfield before a fairly aimless kick upfield. Scotland will need to do a bit more with decent attacking ball than that.

8 mins: Juan Martin Hernandez puts up yet another up-and-under - that's at least four so far, and it looks as though Scotland's back three will be seeing plenty of the ball... coming down from 500 feet in the air accompanied by several Argentine tacklers.

5 mins: Simon Webster comes in on the angle to take the ball off Dan Parks, but the move is all wrong with the pass behind the centre and he knocks on.

4 mins: The first scrum of the game goes down twice, and referee Joel Jutge gives Argentina the free-kick. A quick tap and Juan Martin Hernandez fires up an up-and-under which Rory Lamont cannot quite claim.

There is a Argentina knock-on though, and Scotland clear their lines through Dan Parks.

3 mins: Another mistake from Juan Martin Hernandez as he overcooks his penalty to touch by 5m or so. The ball dribbles out of play beyond the corner flag and Scotland get a scrum in midfield back in Argentina's half.

1 min: Juan Martin Hernandez kicks off for Argentina and Scotland are unable to collect the ball. Agustin Pichot fires a loose pass out to hs fly-half and with 17 seconds on the clock, Hernandez has a shot at a drop-goal but it goes just right of the posts.

El Mago is human after all.

1959: Right then, the anthems are out of the way and we're just about to get under way.

1953: The Stade de France is a sight to behold, lighting up the Parisian night sky.

Add to that the noise of the crowd as the two teams march out onto the field before launching into a jog and you have the makings of another great occasion at this tournament.

Argentina go into a brief huddle before joining Scotland in linking arms and lining up for the pre-match anthems.

1948: The players have done all the warming-up they need to do and are back in the dressing room psyching up for this massive game. We're just 10 minutes away from finding out the final team to reach the last four.

1946: "I am watching ITV and Kenny Logan just won a dance-off. It must be an omen! Good luck Scotland!"
Eckstatic on 606

1944: Let's just remind ourselves about the players on show at the Stade de France:

Scotland: Rory Lamont; Sean Lamont, Simon Webster, Rob Dewey, Chris Paterson; Dan Parks Mike Blair; Gavin Kerr, Ross Ford, Euan Murray, Nathan Hines, Jim Hamilton, Jason White (captain), Allister Hogg, Simon Taylor.
Replacements: Scott Lawson, Craig Smith, Scott MacLeod, Kelly Brown, Chris Cusiter, Andrew Henderson, Hugo Southwell.

Argentina: Ignacio Corleto, Lucas Borges, Manuel Contepomi, Felipe Contepomi, Horacio Agulla, Juan Martin Hernandez, Agustin Pichot (captain), Gonzalo Longo, Juan Fernandez Lobbe, Lucas Ostiglia, Patricio Albacete, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, Martin Scelzo, Mario Ledesma, Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: Alberto Vernet Basualdo, Omar Hasan, Rimas Alvarez, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Nicolas Fernandez Miranda, Federico Todeschini, Hernan Senillosa.

1935: "Just had a walk outside the stadium and St Denis is jumping. Cheesy Euro-pop tunes are blasting outside. Not to everyone's taste I grant you, but it does add to the atmosphere.

"In the bowels of the Stade de France I have just bumped into a certain Jonah Lomu. He may have been a superstar in his prime but I reckon I could have taken him down. Actually thinking about it, maybe not.

"The fans that are slowly filling the ground are being treated to replays of yesterday's France v New Zealand epic on the big screens. Still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end."
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at the Stade de France

1933: "Argentina are never gonna runaway with a game.

"They are grinders, so I suspect it will be a slow strangle. If Argentina lose their discipline though, they could get themselves into trouble because Chris Paterson is without peer as a kicker."
SP on 606

1923: All of a sudden, rugby union is a very big deal in Argentina.

The success of the Pumas in this tournament has seen the "Superclasico" - River Plate v Boca Juniors, one of the biggest matches in football anywhere - shift its kick-off time to make sure no-one has to miss Argentina's meeting with Scotland.

No pressure then, boys.

1915: "It's a glorious early autumn evening here in Paris. The sun is just setting and there is not a cloud in the sky - it will be a perfect night for rugby. Maybe Scotland will be able to throw off the shackles and give it a lash.

"The kilts are out in Paris. Both the Scots and the French are showing off their legs, and it is some sight I can tell you. The locals are definitely rooting for the Scottish underdogs.

"The bars around the Stade de France are rammed and the sound of drums and brass bands fills the air. The Argentine fans are in full voice, they know their side is just 80 minutes away from booking a place in their first ever World Cup semi-finals.

"The Scotland fans I have talked to are a wee bit concerned about the outcome but if we have learnt anything from this incredible weekend, it is that we cannot take any result for granted. I'm going for a Scotland win, who's with me?"
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at the Stade de France

1910: Evening all, we're building up to the final quarter-final of an incredible weekend of international rugby.

The match has got plenty to live up to, coming in the wake of epic victories for France and England, while South Africa were pushed all the way by a valiant Fiji side this afternoon.

But Scotland and Argentina will not care if it is 3-0 as long as it their side with the three points to their name.

Costa Rica 'backs US trade deal'

Early referendum results show a majority of voters in Costa Rica support a proposed free trade agreement with the United States.

With 89% of votes counted, 51.7% backed the treaty that would give Costa Rica greater access to the US market.

Opponents of the deal fear increased competition could ruin the country's successful economy and put the welfare system at risk.

Five other Central American countries have already ratified the agreement.

Costa Rica is the only country to hold a referendum on the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which will also covers Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

Development opportunity

Supporters of the trade pact, led by President Oscar Arias, say it is a unique development opportunity that will benefit Costa Rica since it is a small country with few natural resources.

But critics object to requirements that Costa Rica open its telecommunications and agricultural sectors to greater competition, and fear it may flood the market with cheap imports.

Costa Ricans have for many years enjoyed more stability and a higher standard of living and public services than their neighbours in Central America.

Earlier Mr Arias said a "No" vote would undermine that position.

"Costa Rica would be saying 'no' to a market of 300 million inhabitants, and that would be a grave error," he said.

"It is a step in the wrong direction for the people of Costa Rica because the Free Trade Agreement would generate more wealth for us."

The issue has provoked repeated protests in Costa Rica, including a two-day strike by public workers last year.

PKK attack kills 13 Turk soldiers

Kurdish fighters from the separatist group, PKK, have killed 13 Turkish soldiers in an attack close to the country's border with Iraq.

It is one of the heaviest losses the Turkish military has sustained in clashes with the group. Reports say only one PKK fighter was killed.

The Turkish military shelled the border area in an attempt to prevent the fighters from fleeing to northern Iraq.

Ankara says about 3,000 PKK fighters are based in Kurdish-run north Iraq.

The Turkish government has been reluctant to push for a cross-border military operation but has repeatedly called on the US and the Iraqi authorities to take action against them.

"Those who create, feed and support terrorism should know that no force can stand against the determination of the Republic of Turkey to protect its inseparable integrity," Turkey's President Abdullah Gul said.

Constant clashes

"Thirteen members of our armed forces were killed in an attack ... carried out by terrorists on one of our units serving in the Sirnak region," a General Staff statement said.

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford says there have been almost constant clashes between Turkish forces and the PKK since thousands of troops were deployed in the border region earlier this year.

She says this latest ambush will increase military pressure on the Turkish government to send troops across the border.

Last month Iraq denied Turkey permission to pursue armed separatists onto Iraqi territory.

Instead Iraq and Turkey signed a wide-ranging security agreement, pledging to prevent finance, logistical support and propaganda for the PKK.

The PKK has been fighting for autonomy in south-eastern Turkey since 1984 and more than 30,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

The PKK has been labelled a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU.

Blackwater 'killed 17', says Iraq

The Iraqi government says a shooting in Baghdad last month involving the US security firm, Blackwater, killed more people than previously thought.

Originally it was said that 11 Iraqis had died but the government now says Blackwater guards killed 17 people.

Iraqi investigators also said that the Blackwater men did not come under fire.

Blackwater has not responded to the latest allegations, but has disputed previous accusations that its staff were the first to open fire.

But an Iraqi government spokesman said that the actions of the Blackwater employees amounted to deliberate killing.

"The investigation committee appointed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki... has found that there was no evidence that the convoy of Blackwater came under fire directly or indirectly," spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on Sunday.

"It was not hit even by a stone," he added.

Founded in 1997 by a former US Navy Seal
Headquarters in North Carolina
One of at least 28 private security companies in Iraq
Employs 744 US citizens, 231 third-country nationals, and 12 Iraqis to protect US state department in Iraq
Provided protection for former CPA head Paul Bremer
Four employees killed by mob in Falluja in March 2004

Mr al-Dabbagh said that the Iraqi cabinet would look at the investigative committee's recommendations and "take legal steps to hold the company to account."

The report concludes that those involved should face trial.

The committee found that 23 people had been wounded in the 16 September shooting, when Blackwater employees opened fire on civilians at al-Nisoor square in Baghdad.

Blackwater's founder Erik Prince has insisted his firm's personnel acted in self-defence after insurgents attacked the US diplomatic convoy they were protecting.

Blackwater is the main firm employed by the state department to provide security for its staff and visiting officials and businessmen.

The US state department has handed its inquiry into the shooting over to the FBI.