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The two day plunge in crude and slightly lower wholesale gasoline futures prices are expected to at least slow the rise in pump prices, and perhaps push them back slightly.

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Private US firms take major role vs. cyberattacks

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ When Kevin Mandia, a retired military cybercrime investigator, decided to expose China as a primary threat to U.S. computer networks, he didn't have to consult with American diplomats in Beijing or declassify tactics to safely reveal government secrets.

He pulled together a 76-page report based on seven years of his company's work and produced the most detailed public account yet of how, he says, the Chinese government has been rummaging through the networks of major U.S. companies.

It wasn't news to Mandia's commercial competitors, or the federal government, that systematic attacks could be traced back to a nondescript office building outside Shanghai that he believes was run by the Chinese army. What was remarkable was that the extraordinary details â¿¿ code names of hackers, one's affection for Harry Potter and how they stole sensitive trade secrets and passwords â¿¿ came from a private security company without the official backing of the U.S. military or intelligence agencies that are responsible for protecting the nation from a cyberattack.

The report also shows the balance of power in America's cyberwar has shifted into the hands of the $30 billion-a-year computer security industry.

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Italian traditions provide buffers to the crisis

VICENZA, Italy (AP) â¿¿ Self-made Italians like Amedeo Tartarini never expected to need help.

Tartarini's goldsmith business thrived for decades in Italy's postwar boom. He was one of legions of small businessmen who made Italy an industrial power. With a house, money in the bank and a teeming workshop, the affable artisan never questioned his financial security â¿¿ until it was too late.

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