Posted: Sep 1, 2013 4:00 PM
Updated: Sep 2, 2013 4:00 AM
Seeking Congress' OK for military intervention in Syria, Obama meets with former foe McCain
WASHINGTON (AP) President Barack Obama is inviting former foe Sen. John McCain to the White House, hoping one of Congress' most intractable foreign policy hawks will help sell the idea of a U.S. military intervention in Syria to a nation deeply scarred by more than a decade of war.
Having announced over the weekend that he'll seek congressional approval for military strikes against the Assad regime, the Obama administration is now trying to rally support among Americans and their congressman and senators.
Monday's meeting with McCain is meant to address concerns of those who feel Obama isn't doing enough to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad's government for an attack in the Damascus suburbs last month that the U.S. says included sarin gas and killed at least 1,429 civilians, more than 400 of whom were children. On the other side of the spectrum, some Republican and Democratic lawmakers don't want to see military action at all.
Obama's turnabout on Syria sets the stage for the biggest foreign policy vote in Congress since the Iraq war.
On Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. received new physical evidence in the form of blood and hair samples that shows sarin gas was used in the Aug. 21 attack. Kerry said the U.S. must respond with its credibility on the line.
A look at Syria developments around the world amid threat of strike targeting Assad regime
The United States is considering launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed by the U.S. and the Syrian opposition for an Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus. The U.S. said the attack killed 1,429 people, including at least 426 children. Those numbers are significantly higher than the death toll of 355 provided by the aid group Doctors Without Borders.
President Barack Obama said he has decided that the United States should take military action against Syria but is seeking congressional authorization for the use of force in a vote expected after Congress returns to work Sept. 9.
Here's a look at key Syria developments around the world Monday amid heightened tensions over potential military action:
Obama will host Sen. John McCain at the White House, hoping his opponent in the 2008 presidential election will help sell the idea of a U.S. military intervention in Syria to a nation scarred by more than a decade of war. The Obama administration is trying to rally support for the strike among Americans and their congressman and senators.
Militants attack US base in Afghanistan, torch vehicles; 3 suspected militants killed
MOHMANDARA DISTRICT, Afghanistan (AP) Militants attacked a U.S. base in Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan on Monday, setting off bombs, torching vehicles and shutting down a key road used by NATO supply trucks, officials said. At least three people apparently all attacking insurgents were killed.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the strike in the Torkham area, the latest in a surge of attacks in Afghanistan as U.S.-led foreign troops reduce their presence en route to a full withdrawal by the end of next year. Militants frequently target NATO's supply lines in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In a brief statement, NATO confirmed an "unsuccessful coordinated attack by enemy forces" but said none of its personnel were killed. The military alliance generally does not release information on wounded troops. No members of the Afghan security forces or civilians were killed or wounded, according to Esa Khan Zwak, chief administrator in Mohmandara district, in which the base is located.
Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, said several militants wearing suicide vests and carrying other weapons staged the attack, and that Afghan and U.S. forces exchanged gunfire with the insurgents. NATO helicopters joined the fight, he added.
The encounter began around 6:30 a.m. and lasted three and a half hours, said Masoum Khan Hashimi, deputy provincial police chief in Nangarhar province. Afghan security forces trying to clear the area were still in the process of defusing a bomb in a car. At least one car bomb also was successfully detonated in the attack, Hashimi said.
Japan regulator raises concerns about storage tanks amid reports of more radiation leaks
TOKYO (AP) Japan's top nuclear regulator has raised safety concerns about hastily built storage tanks and their foundations amid reports of new leaks of radiation-contaminated water.
Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said Monday that a small leak and signs of possible leaks have been spotted at several other Fukushima Dai-ichi storage tanks. Officials say part of the leak has escaped into the sea.
He said the discoveries were the result of closer inspections after a 300-ton leak two weeks ago. Tanaka raised concerns about the tanks' foundations and urged careful monitoring.
The plant's operator says it suspects other possible leaks because radioactivity has been detected near the tanks, although it is not considered deadly.
The latest leaks have triggered further concerns about the plant's ability to manage the contaminated water.
Nelson Mandela, still in critical condition, spends first night home after hospital discharge
JOHANNESBURG (AP) Nelson Mandela has spent a first night at his Johannesburg home since the former South African president left a hospital after nearly three months of treatment there.
There were no official updates Monday on the condition of the 95-year-old leader of the anti-apartheid movement, who was taken to his home in an ambulance on Sunday.
In announcing Mandela's discharge, the office of South African President Jacob Zuma said Mandela remains in critical and sometimes unstable condition.
A statement from Zuma's office also says Mandela will receive the same level of intensive care that he did in the hospital, administered by the same doctors.
Some Dominican police now facing more serious charges than spiritual group targeted in raid
SOSUA, Dominican Republic (AP) Police stormed the compound with guns drawn, killing a man and declaring they had uncovered a heavily armed European cult suspected of plotting against the government and trafficking in human organs.
They found no sign of any organ trafficking, but officials say something unusual was going on behind the walls of the Academy for Future Health, where several dozen mostly German expatriates had set up a secretive spiritual group whose website warns of UFOs, the evils of the U.S. government and looming global turmoil. More disturbingly, officers seized an arsenal that included military-grade assault weapons, other firearms, body armor, targets and a crossbow.
On Tuesday, a judge ruled there is enough evidence to try 62-year-old sect leader Peter Brunck and his son, Daniel Roland, on weapons violations and a charge of "rebellion." They face up to 10 years in prison, and prosecutors said further counts are possible.
But nearly a year after the October raid, the police involved in the operation are also in prosecutors' sights.
Authorities are looking into charges that officers beat Brunck and his son while they were handcuffed, shot at an unarmed gardener and stole some of the $1.5 million in cash and personal property confiscated in the operation.
Wildfire becomes fourth-largest in California history as containment continues
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) The wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park has become the fourth-largest conflagration in modern California history, fire officials said Sunday as clouds and higher humidity helped crews further contain the biggest blaze in the United States this year.
The 2-week-old Rim Fire moved up a spot on the state's list of large wildfires dating back to 1932 when it grew to 351 square miles an area larger than the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose combined, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant said.
Although the fire still is growing, it was 45 percent contained as of Sunday.
Moister air slowed flames from advancing through brush and trees, giving firefighters room to set backfires, dig containment lines and to strengthen lines around threatened communities, fire spokesman Trevor Augustino.
He said it also helped that more than 4600 firefighters were brought in to battle the flames.
Filmmaker Shane Salerno spent a decade seeking, and finding, clues about J.D. Salinger
LOS ANGELES (AP) Shane Salerno's phone never stops ringing.
Known until now as a screenwriter for "Armageddon" and "Savages," working by day on a sequel to "Avatar," he has taken on a surprising and news-making identity: the latest, and, apparently, greatest seeker of clues about J.D. Salinger.
Salerno is finally opening up about a private quest he worked on for a decade, spending $2 million of his own money. Stating that he has found more than even he had imagined, including what the author might have written over the last half century of his life, Salerno is presenting his case in "Salinger," a unique, 3-way project: A 700-page book, co-authored with David Shields; a theatrical release distributed by the Weinstein Company; and a TV documentary that will air on PBS in January as the 200th installment of "American Masters."
Earnest and energetic with sharp, narrow blue eyes and dark, brushed-back hair that could qualify him as an honorary Baldwin brother, the 40-year-old Salerno seems an unlikely candidate for breaking Salinger ground. He is not an experienced biographer, a trained academic or investigative journalist. He is, instead, a lifelong Salinger fan, a believer and a go-getter who has often succeeded simply by refusing to quit.
"When I get something in my head, I go after it with extreme passion and I went after this for a decade with extreme passion," Salerno, who reportedly negotiated 7-figure deals for each edition of "Salinger," said during a recent weekend interview.
Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad getting closer to completing record-breaking Cuba-Florida swim
KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad's representatives say she's getting closer in her latest attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida.
Early Monday, her team tweeted that she's less than 10 miles away from Florida. Overall, the swim is expected to be about 100 miles if she's able to complete it.
The 64-year-old is trying to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. It's her fourth attempt in the last three years.
For 1st time in tournament history, zero US men in 4th round of US Open after Smyczek's loss
NEW YORK (AP) Might be best to say that Tim Smyczek, much like American men's tennis, ran out of gas Sunday night.
The 25-year-old from Milwaukee, who served up a funny headline when he told about how the car he was riding in ran out of gas en route to the U.S. Open last week, was two points away from helping his country avoid an ignominious fate.
"I never heard somebody yell out from the stands, 'You're our last hope,'" Smyczek said.
But he could not pull through against Marcel Granollers.
He lost 6-4, 4-6, 0-6, 6-3, 7-5 to the Spaniard in front of a rowdy crowd chanting "USA! USA!" in the Grandstand, and now, the Americans don't have a single man in the round of 16 at their own Grand Slam for the first time since the tournament started in 1881.