Musharraf could quit by Saturday




ISLAMABAD, Pakistan &

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf could quit as chief of the army and take oath as a civilian president by Saturday, a senior official said.




Meeting another key demand of his U.S. sponsors and domestic opponents, another official said authorities had freed almost all of the thousands of people rounded up under emergency law.




The Supreme Court is expected to clear the last legal obstacles to Musharraf's continued rule as president on Thursday. The Election Commission can then confirm his victory in a disputed October presidential election.




Attorney General Malik Mohammed Qayyum told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Musharraf would quickly quit his army post and be sworn in for a new five-year term.




"It may happen on Saturday," Qayyum said. "I know the president, and he will honor his commitment."




The general has been under heavy political pressure since he suspended the constitution Nov. — and cracked down on dissenters who had questioned his right to stay in power.




The United States has said crucial Jan. 8 elections will be seriously compromised if the state of emergency is not lifted. Washington hopes that balloting will usher in a moderate government committed to fighting Islamic extremism.




At home, Musharraf risks seeing his two main rivals &

former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif &

join forces to oust him.




Students push for concealed weapons




SAN MARCOS, Texas &

Mike Guzman and thousands of other students say the best way to prevent campus bloodshed is more guns.




Guzman, an economics major at Texas State University-San Marcos, is among 8,000 students nationwide who have joined the nonpartisan Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, arguing that students and faculty already licensed to carry concealed weapons should be allowed to pack heat along with their textbooks.




"It's the basic right of self defense," said Guzman, a 23-year-old former Marine. "Here on campus, we don't have that right, that right of self defense."




Every state but Illinois and Wisconsin allows residents some form of concealed handgun carrying rights, with 36 states issuing permits to most everyone who meets licensing criteria. The precise standards vary from state to state, but most require an applicant to be at least 21 and to complete formal instruction on use of force.




Many states forbid license-holders from carrying weapons on school campuses, while in states where the decision is left to the universities, schools almost always prohibit it. Utah is the only state that expressly allows students to carry concealed weapons on campus.




"" The Associated Press




Crude oil prices rise to record above $99 a barrel in Asian trading as traders eye $100




SINGAPORE &

Crude oil prices rose to a new record above $99 a barrel Wednesday, lifted by worries about inadequate supplies as the Northern Hemisphere enters winter and on news of refinery problems.




The declining U.S. dollar and speculation that the Federal Reserve will again cut interest rates also boosted prices. Some investors put their money into oil contracts as a hedge against the dollar, betting that oil gains will offset dollar weakness.




"The market is now really looking at $100 a barrel as the next target to hit," said Victor Shum, an energy analyst with Purvin Gertz in Singapore. "The fact that we are having this surge in pricing in this short trading week underscores the strength of this bull run for oil."




Light, sweet crude for January delivery rose as high as $99.29 a barrel in electronic trading after the New York Mercantile Exchange closed, breaking the previous intraday record of $98.62 on Nov. 7. Midafternoon in Singapore, oil was trading at $98.64 a barrel.




The contract surged $3.39 during the floor session Tuesday in New York to a record close of $98.03 a barrel. The Nymex will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving and close early on Friday.




Former press secretary McClellan points finger at Bush, Cheney for deceit in CIA leak scandal




WASHINGTON &

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan blames President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for efforts to mislead the public about the role of White House aides in leaking the identity of a CIA operative.




In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, McClellan recounts the 2003 news conference in which he told reporters that aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were "not involved" in the leak involving operative Valerie Plame.




"There was one problem. It was not true," McClellan writes, according to a brief excerpt released Tuesday. "I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself."




Bush's chief of staff at the time was Andrew Card.




The excerpt, posted on the Web site of publisher PublicAffairs, renews questions about what went on in the West Wing and how much Bush and Cheney knew about the leak. For years, it was McClellan's job to field &

and often duck &

those types of questions.