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Updated: Thu, 05 Sep 2013 01:16:04 EST

US-SYRIA-SENATE Senate panel votes to authorize force in Syria WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate panel has voted to give President Barack Obama the authority to use military force against Syria in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack. The vote Wednesday was 10-7, with one senator voting present. The full Senate is expected to vote on the measure next week. The resolution would permit Obama to order a limited military mission against Syria, as long as it doesn't exceed 90 days and involves no American troops on the ground for combat operations. The Democratic chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez, and the panel's top Republican, Sen. Bob Corker, crafted the resolution. The vote marked the first time lawmakers have voted to authorize military action since the October 2002 votes giving President George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq. OBAMA-SYRIA Obama: Congress, world credibility at stake STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) — If Congress fails to go along with a U.S. military strike against Syria, will President Barack Obama go ahead with it anyway? Obama isn't saying. At a news conference in Sweden, the president said his request to lawmakers for approval of U.S. military action was not "an empty exercise." But he added that as commander in chief, he has the right "to act on behalf of America's national security." Obama said it isn't just his own credibility that's at stake. He said governments representing 98 percent of the world's population have denounced the use of chemical weapons. AS-AFGHAN-VIOLENCE Officials: Afghan police kill 2 gunmen at mosque KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan authorities say police killed two militants in an early morning shootout at a Shiite Muslim mosque in Kabul. Details were sketchy in the immediate hours after the clash Thursday, but the national intelligence service released a video showing the bloodied bodies of the alleged militants, who wore police uniforms. The intelligence service's statement described the gunmen as being Pakistani, though it gave no indication as to how it knew that. It said the men were armed with Kalashnikovs and other weapons. According to the intelligence service, three bystanders attending early morning prayers at the mosque were wounded. However, the area district police chief, Hafizullah, who like many Afghans goes by one name, said no one was wounded. Afghanistan has accused Pakistan of supporting militancy here, a charge Pakistan denies. CLINTON-HEALTH CARE Clinton defends federal health care law in speech LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton is urging opponents of the federal health care overhaul to help implement it rather than continue "replaying" debates about the measure and trying to repeal it. Speaking at his presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., Clinton on Wednesday offered a detailed defense of the law as a key part of its implementation nears. Clinton's speech is the first in a series by administration officials and allies before the Oct. 1 open enrollment for the insurance exchanges. Clinton praised his home state of Arkansas for its plan to use Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for thousands of low-income residents. Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe and the GOP-led Legislature approved the plan as an alternative to expanding Medicaid. HEALTH OVERHAUL-PREMIUMS NEW: Studies take early look at health law's premiums WASHINGTON (AP) — Coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law won't be cheap, but two independent private studies show that cost-conscious consumers hunting for lower premiums will have plenty of options. A study released Thursday by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation found that government tax credits would lower the sticker price on a benchmark "silver" policy to a little over $190 a month for single people making about $29,000, regardless of the person's age. By pairing their tax credit with a stripped-down "bronze" policy, some younger consumers can bring their premiums down to the range of $100 to $140 a month. Older people can drive their monthly cost even lower — well below $100 — if they are willing to take a chance with higher deductibles and copays. US-RARE-BRAIN-DISEASE Surgical gear quarantined over rare brain disease CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire public health officials believe one person died of a rare, degenerative brain disease, and there's a remote chance up to 13 others in multiple states were exposed to it through surgical equipment. Dr. Joseph Pepe, president of Catholic Medical Center, says officials are 95 percent certain that a patient who had brain surgery in May and died in August had sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob (KROYTS'-felt JAY'-kuhb) Disease. Officials have notified eight people who had brain surgery during that time period, because the faulty proteins that cause the disease can survive standard sterilization. The disease has only been transmitted that way four times, never in the United States. Some of the surgical instruments had been rented, and officials say up to five patients in other states could have been exposed. The equipment has been quarantined. HIGH SCHOOL-STABBING-TEXAS-SUSPECT NEW: Student charged with murder in high school knifing SPRING, Texas (AP) — A 17-year-old male student has been charged with murder in a deadly knife fight at a Houston-area high school. A Harris County Sheriff's Office statement says Luis Alonzo Alfaro was charged in the fight at Spring High School that killed a student Wednesday. The stabbing happened during a fight between several students in a school corridor. The sheriff's statement says that during the fight, Alfaro pulled a knife and stabbed a 17-year-old student to death and wounded three other students. The three survivors were treated at a hospital and discharged. The statement says Alfaro admitted the stabbing under questioning by sheriff's homicide detectives. School district officials have canceled classes at the high school for the rest of the week. TROPICAL-WEATHER Tropical storm forms south of Puerto Rico MIAMI (AP) — Tropical Storm Gabrielle has formed south of Puerto Rico, resulting in storm warnings. Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said late Wednesday that Gabrielle was centered about 70 miles (113 kilometers) south of Ponce, Puerto Rico. Maximum sustained winds were 40 mph (64 kph). It was moving to the northwest at 8 mph (13 kph). Tropical storm warnings were issued for Puerto Rico and parts of the Dominican Republic, from Cabo Engano to Cabo Frances Viejo. It was expected to bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to parts of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eastern portions of the Dominican Republic. Forecasters expect the storm's center to pass between the islands on Thursday and eventually curve back to the northeast away from the U.S. mainland. However, storm paths are difficult to predict accurately days in advance. INDIAN CHILD WELFARE DISPUTE Father of Cherokee girl to be extradited to SC OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says the father of a Cherokee girl in the middle of an adoption case must go to South Carolina to face accusations that he is interfering with custody of the girl. Fallin said Wednesday she had signed an extradition order that sends Dusten Brown to South Carolina. She had said last month she wouldn't sign the document if Brown showed a willingness to work with Matt and Melanie Capobianco, who want to adopt 3-year-old Veronica. Fallin's order does not change Veronia's current placement with Brown's family. Brown was charged with custodial interference last month after refusing to give Veronica to her adoptive parents. The Capobiancos were finalized as her adoptive parents in July, but Brown did not turn the girl over EX-POLICE OFFICER-MURDER TRIAL Ex-Ariz. officer concludes murder trial testimony PHOENIX (AP) — A former Phoenix police officer charged with murder and animal cruelty has concluded his testimony after nearly two days on the witness stand. Richard Chrisman maintains the 2010 shootings of 29-year-old Daniel Rodriguez and his dog were justified because Rodriguez reached for the officer's gun and tried to attack him with a bicycle while Chrisman was responding to a domestic violence call. Chrisman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, aggravated assault and animal cruelty. Prosecutors say Chrisman abused his police powers by killing an unarmed man. Chrisman acknowledged on the stand that he was the aggressor early on in the domestic violence call. But he noted it was his job to restrain a resisting suspect. Trial began in August. Chrisman's attorneys may wrap up their case this week. CHINA-BROTHER WATCH NEW: China's 'Brother Watch' gets 14-year prison term BEIJING (AP) — A court has ordered a 14-year prison sentence for a Chinese provincial official whose grinning at the scene of a deadly bus crash sparked a public outcry and, eventually, led to corruption charges. Yang Dacai led a Shanxi province work safety administration when photographs of him smiling at the crash scene circulated online. Outraged citizens noted the luxury wristwatch he wore and dug up more photos of him wearing pricey timepieces, nicknaming him "Brother Watch" and demanding to know how he could afford them. Communist Party officials later opened an investigation. He pleaded guilty last month to charges of taking 250,000 yuan ($40,000) in bribes and having bank deposits of 5.04 million yuan ($820,000) from dubious sources. Yang was sentenced Thursday by the Xi'an Intermediate People's Court.

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