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MONDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2007
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Turkey warns U.S. about genocide bill

ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkey’s top general warned that ties with the U.S., already strained by attacks from rebels hiding in Iraq, will be irreversibly damaged if Congress passes a resolution that labels the World War I-era killings of Armenians a genocide.

Turkey, which is a major cargo hub for U.S. and allied military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, has recalled its ambassador to Washington for consultations and warned that there might be a cut in the logistical support to the U.S. over the issue.

Gen. Yasar Buyukanit said a congressional committee’s approval of the measure had already harmed ties between the two countries.

Namibia deports U.S. recruiters

WINDHOEK, Namibia — Authorities have ordered the deportation of two Americans working for a security firm that was trying to recruit Namibians to work as guards at U.S. facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, a government minister said.

The Namibian Cabinet also recommended the closure of the local branch of the Nevada-based security firm, Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group (SOC-SMG), which was set up earlier this month, Information Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said Friday.

Nandi-Ndaitwah said two American employees of the firm — Paul Grimes, the firm’s country representative and Fredric Piry, the chief of operations — were to be “immediately removed” from the country. They had been given 24 hours to leave Namibia, she said Friday.

China to strengthen one-party system

BEIJING — Chinese President Hu Jintao opened a major Communist Party congress Monday by promising modest reforms to make government institutions more responsive while strengthening one-party rule.

The congress is a crucial test of strength for Hu after five years in power, especially his ability to maneuver allies — possibly including a designated successor — into key positions and assert the primacy of his vision of more balanced development.

Hu, who is expected to remain in power for another five years, said government advisory bodies, which include non-party members, should be given a greater role in decision making. He also supported holding more public hearings before laws and regulations are formulated.

Rice struggles with Mideast peace deal

JERUSALEM — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice opened an intense round of Mideast shuttle diplomacy Sunday, struggling to bring Israelis and Palestinians close enough to make a planned U.S.-hosted peace conference worthwhile.

The two sides are at bitter odds over an outline of a peace agreement that would be presented at next month’s conference, and Rice sought to lower expectations her mission would finalize preparations for the gathering.

Underscoring her less-than-optimistic assessment, Israeli and Palestinians traded shots about the other’s commitment to peace even as she arrived in the region. During her four-day visit, she will bounce between Israel and the West Bank, seeking a consensus.

Vatican official: he pretended to be gay

VATICAN CITY — A Vatican official suspended after being caught on hidden camera making advances to a young man says he is not gay and was only pretending to be gay as part of his work.

In an interview published Sunday, Monsignor Tommaso Stenico told La Repubblica daily he frequented online gay chat rooms and met with gay men as part of his work as a psychoanalyst. He said that he pretended to be gay in order to gather information about “those who damage the image of the Church with homosexual activity.”

Vatican teaching holds that gays and lesbians should be treated with compassion and dignity but that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.”

The Vatican said Saturday it was suspending Stenico after he was secretly filmed making advances to a young man and asserting that gay sex was not sinful during a television program on gay priests broadcast Oct. 1 on La7, a private Italian television network. While Stenico’s face was blurred in the footage, church officials recognized his Vatican office in the background and suspended him pending a church investigation.

Myanmar restores some Net access

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar’s ruling junta restored Internet access but kept foreign news sites blocked, partially easing its crackdown as a U.N. envoy arrived in Thailand on Sunday to rally neighboring governments around demands for democratic reforms in the country.

The junta cut Internet access Sept. 28, two days after troops opened fire on peaceful protesters and images of the crackdown were plastered on Web sites. Internet service was intermittently restored earlier this month.

Foreign news Web sites, including the BBC and CNN, however, remained inaccessible along with blogs and overseas-hosted dissident sites, which had provided many inside tightly controlled Myanmar with their only information about the pro-democracy protests.

Torched homeless man dies in hospital

NEW YORK — A homeless man torched outside a church where he had bedded down for the night has died from his injuries, police said Saturday.

Felix Najera suffered burns to 40 percent of his body after being set on fire while sleeping in front of Bethany Christian Church in East Harlem, police said. He died Oct. 9.

Israel Torres, 29, of the Bronx, was charged with attempted murder and assault in the Oct. 5 attack, police said. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Oct. 8 and was held without bail.

Castro calls up Chavez on air

HAVANA — Fidel Castro made his first live appearance on Cuban airwaves since falling ill 14 months ago, sounding lucid and in good humor as he exchanged praise and jokes Sunday with the Venezuelan president.

Castro’s telephone call to a television and radio program came minutes after visiting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez aired a new videotape of their weekend meeting in which he sang revolutionary hymns to Castro and called him “father of all revolutionaries.”

Castro, who has not appeared in public since falling ill in July 2006, made his last live media appearance in February with a phone call to Chavez’s radio
program broadcast from Venezuela. But there was a half-hour delay before that program was broadcast in Cuba.

Study: Pushing diets won’t help teens

MINNEAPOLIS — For parents concerned about their overweight teens, new research suggests the best tactic might be to just relax and cook a healthy Sunday dinner.

Pushing diets probably won’t help. Neither will teasing about weight. Instead parents should focus on having frequent family meals, creating a positive atmosphere at mealtimes, promoting physical activity and building self-esteem, the researchers recommend.

The study of more than 2,500 adolescents over five years reinforced several things that doctors have found among their patients — particularly that destructive behaviors such as vomiting or abusing laxatives are prevalent among overweight teens as well as their too-thin peers, and that body attitudes and perceptions can play a big role in future weight problems.

The Associated Press

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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