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By AP

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Updated: Sun, 15 Sep 2013 01:16:06 EST

OBAMA-SYRIA Obama hails Syria agreement, says US prepared to act if diplomacy fails WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is welcoming an agreement to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons, but he says the U.S. remains prepared to act if diplomacy fails. The agreement announced Saturday by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (SEHR'-gay LAHV'-rahf) calls for Syria to eliminate all its chemical weapons by the middle of next year or face U.N. penalties. Obama says the deal offers the chance to eliminate Syria's stockpile in a transparent, expeditious and verifiable manner. Obama adds that while important progress has been made, more work remains to be done. He says the international community expects Syria to live up to its public commitments. Obama says the U.S. will continue working with Russia, Britain, France, the U.N. and others to ensure that the process is verifiable and that the Syrian government is held to account if it fails to comply with the agreement. UNITED STATES-SYRIA-CONGRESS McCain, Graham blast Syrian chemical weapons deal WASHINGTON (AP) — The agreement drawn up between the U.S. and Russia to strip Syria of its chemical weapons is not being received well by two Republican senators who have sharply criticized President Barack Obama's foreign policy. John McCain and Lindsey Graham say the deal is meaningless and that President Bashar Assad will just use the time it gives him to delay and deceive the world. The two senators say friends and enemies of the U.S. will view it as "an act of provocative weakness" by America. Further, McCain and Graham argue that the agreement doesn't resolve the underlying civil war that has caused the deaths of more than 100,000 people and turned millions of Syrians into refugees The senators also say the agreement will embolden Iran as it continues its push for a nuclear weapon. CHINA-FRANCE-SYRIA France FM in Beijing to discuss Syria BEIJING (AP) — France's foreign minister is visiting Beijing to meet with his Chinese counterpart to discuss the situation in Syria. Laurent Fabius was due to meet Wang Yi on Sunday in a continuing diplomatic drive to end the two-and-a-half-year civil war. France firmly backs the Syrian rebels and has strategic and historic interests in the region. It urged military action after an alleged chemical attack on Aug. 21 that it and the U.S. blamed on President Bashar Assad's government. In contrast, China and Russia have consistently blocked resolutions at the U.N. Security Council aimed at sanctioning Assad's regime. On Saturday, U.S. and Russian diplomats in Geneva agreed on a deal to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, averting the threat of military action for now. COLORADO FLOODING Governor tours Colorado flood areas by chopper LYONS, Colo. (AP) — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper knows just how bad the flooding is in the Rocky Mountain foothills of his state. He took a helicopter tour of the flooded areas on Saturday. The surge of water has now reached the plains east of the mountains, cutting off even more communities. Meanwhile, rescuers are getting through to many of the flood-ravaged towns and are issuing a stern warning to anyone thinking of staying behind: Leave now or be prepared to endure weeks without electricity, running water and basic supplies. Hundreds of people still haven't been heard from in the flood zone, which has expanded to cover portions of an area nearly the size of Connecticut. A woman is missing and presumed dead after witnesses saw floodwaters destroy her home. Four people have been confirmed dead since the floods began Wednesday, but authorities say that number is likely to grow. So far, the National Guard says more than 1,200 people have been evacuated over two days. TROPICAL WEATHER UPDATE: Hurricane Ingrid is approaching Mexico from the Gulf; Tropical Storm Manuel is coming in from the Pacific VERACRUZ, Mexico (AP) — Two storms are threatening Mexico. Ingrid has become the second hurricane of the Atlantic storm season. The storm is packing maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and is centered about 195 miles east of Tuxpan Mexico. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says if the storm stays on the forecast track, it's likely to reach the coast of Mexico on Monday. Authorities have ordered evacuations of coastal residents. Off Mexico's Pacific coast, Tropical Storm Manuel is moving with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. It's 75 miles off the city of Lazaro Cardenas and 185 miles southeast of Manzanillo. A tropical storm warning is in effect from Acapulco to Manzanillo. Manuel is expected to produce 10 to 15 inches of rain over parts of the Mexican states of Oaxaca (wuh-HAH'-kah) and Guerrero, and life-threatening flash floods and mudslides are considered likely. CHURCH BOMBING-ANNIVERSARY NEW: Holder, Rice to mark Alabama bombing anniversary BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be among those gathered in Birmingham Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of a Ku Klux Klan bombing that killed four girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church. The Justice Department says both are scheduled to speak at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, then will attend the church's memorial service. They will be joined by Gov. Robert Bentley, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell and Birmingham Mayor William Bell. The church was an organizing spot for civil rights demonstrations, and a dynamite bomb planted outside went off as Birmingham's public schools were being integrated for the first time. Rice grew up in Birmingham and knew one of the bombing victims. A sculpture honoring the four girls was unveiled Saturday in Birmingham. FRONT YARD EXPLOSION NEW: Man dies after explosion in Fayetteville yard FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Police say a man standing near a fire pit at a North Carolina home has died after an explosion. A news release from Fayetteville police says the explosion occurred Saturday night in the front yard of a home where several people were standing around a fire pit. Police weren't immediately able to elaborate on what kind of explosion happened. They say that the man was pronounced dead at the scene, and several other people had injuries that didn't appear life-threatening. The others injured included two men, a woman and a girl. They were taken to an area hospital. Further details weren't immediately available. A phone number listed for the home rang unanswered Saturday night. CHILDREN KILLED Police: Calif. mother arrested in 2 kids' deaths SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Police say an apparently suicidal woman whose remarks sent authorities to a Southern California hotel room is the mother of two children found dead there. Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna (burr-TAHN'-yuh) said Saturday night that the 42-year-old woman from Scottsdale, Ariz., has been released from a hospital and will soon be booked for investigation of two counts of murder. Police say that earlier Saturday the woman deliberately drove her car into poles guarding an electrical box in a supermarket parking lot. They say the woman made statements that led them to a Santa Ana hotel room where the two kids were found dead. No names have been released, and the age and gender of the children were also being withheld while relatives are notified. CHARLOTTE POLICE-SHOOTING DEATH Unarmed man shot by NC police after apparent wreck CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Charlotte, N.C., police say an officer who shot and killed an unarmed man has been charged with voluntary manslaughter. Police say the man shot had apparently been in a wreck and was seeking help by knocking on the door of a house early Saturday morning. The woman who lived there called 911. Police say the victim charged at officers, and a taser was used before shots were fired. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe said at a news conference that the officer turned himself in. SIX FLAGS-WOMAN DIES Six Flags reopens Texas Giant ride after death ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Six Flags has reopened the Texas Giant roller coaster for the first time since a rider fell 75 feet to her death. The ride at the North Texas amusement park opened Saturday with new precautions that included redesigned restraint bars and new seat belts. Riders also could sit in a trial seat before entering the line. Six Flags cautioned park-goers who waited more than an hour to board that the Texas Giant might not accommodate "guests with unique body shapes or sizes." The ride has been closed since Rosa Ayala-Goana died in July. Her family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Six Flags. Thousands of riders waited an hour or more Saturday to ride the twisting, wood-and-metal coaster that features a drop of 79 degrees and banked turns. MISS AMERICA-SHOE PARADE Miss America contestants show off their shoes ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Miss America contestants restarted a boardwalk tradition by showing off their shoes. With the pageant making its return to New Jersey this year, the 53 competitors paraded down the Atlantic City boardwalk Saturday evening to the refrain of "show us your shoes!" Some contestants sported footwear that reflects their state. Miss Florida's shoes depicted alligators, Miss Indiana's had basketballs and hoops, Miss New Jersey sported sea shells and Miss Arizona's had a cactus. Others are took a different approach. Miss South Dakota opted for metal-studded black leather boots and Miss Oklahoma donned black and red cowboy boots. The pageant is back in Atlantic City after six years in Las Vegas. The winner will be crowned during Sunday night's nationally televised broadcast.

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