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New Rule Would Discount Warming as Risk Factor for Species

The Bush administration is finalizing changes to the Endangered Species Act that would ensure that federal agencies would not have to take global warming into account when assessing risks to imperiled plants and animals.

The main purpose of the new regulations, which were first unveiled in August, is to eliminate a long-standing provision of the Endangered Species Act that requires an independent scientific review by either the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of any federal project that could affect a protected species. Under the administration's proposal, individual agencies could decide on their own whether a project would harm an imperiled species. 

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Associated Press to slash 10 percent of staff

The Associated Press, like virtually every business in the world, is defining strategies for operating in these complex and difficult financial times," the company added in a statement.

"All areas and ways of doing business are being reviewed," it said. "The AP, which recently instituted a strategic hiring freeze, may need to reduce staff over the next year.

"If so, it hopes to achieve much of the reduction through attrition," the statement said. "While we are looking for new efficiencies in the way we operate, AP's mission as the essential global news network does not change."

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Contractors in Iraq could face charges in earlier incidents

Private security contractors operating in Iraq could face Iraqi prosecution for acts committed when they supposedly had immunity from Iraqi law, U.S. officials said Thursday.

A new U.S.-Iraq security agreement doesn't specifically prevent Iraqi officials from bringing criminal charges retroactively in cases such as the September 2007 shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians by contractors protecting a State Department convoy, officials told security company officials during meetings in Washington Thursday.

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VIDEO: President Bush - Where's the Love?

Government warns of "catastrophic" U.S. quake

People in a vast seismic zone in the southern and midwestern United States would face catastrophic damage if a major earthquake struck there and should ensure that builders keep that risk in mind, a government report said on Thursday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said if earthquakes strike in what geologists define as the New Madrid Seismic Zone, they would cause "the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States."

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5 Gitmo detainees blame arrest on 'political game'

A group of Algerians who were ordered released from Guantanamo Bay on Thursday have long denied being terrorists, saying they were swept up in Bosnia and handed over to the U.S. as political pawns.

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U.S. judge: Five Algerians at Guantanamo can be freed

Five of six Algerians must be released after nearly seven years of captivity at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, a federal judge ruled on Thursday in a setback for the Bush administration,

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled from the bench after holding the first hearings under a landmark Supreme Court ruling in June that gave Guantanamo prisoners the legal right to challenge their continued confinement.

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New friendly fire coverup: Army shreds files on dead soldiers

Last month, Salon published a story reporting that U.S. Army Pfc. Albert Nelson and Pfc. Roger Suarez were killed by U.S. tank fire in Ramadi, Iraq, in late 2006, in an incident partially captured on video, but that an Army investigation instead blamed their deaths on enemy action. Now Salon has learned that documents relating to the two men were shredded hours after the story was published.

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