McClatchy-Tribune News Service

News Budget for Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Updated at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 UTC).




Additional news stories appear on the MCT-NEWSFEATURES-BJT.

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^Obama says he didn't draw the red line on Syria, world did<

USSYRIA-1ST-LEDE:WA _ President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he didn't set the "red line" against Syria for the use of chemical weapons.

Speaking at a press conference in Stockholm ahead of an economic summit in Russia, where he will seek support for a U.S. military strike against Syria, Obama said the "red line" he talked about a year ago against Syria's use of chemical weapons wasn't his but an international standard.

"I didn't set a red line, the world set a red line," Obama said. "My credibility is not on the line. The international community's credibility is on the line. And America and Congress' credibility is on the line because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important."

1200 (with trims) by Lesley Clark in St. Petersburg, Russia. MOVED



VIDEO: Obama: World `cannot be silent' on Syria

Preview: http://www.newslook.com/videos/605152-obama-world-cannot-be-silent-on-syria

Get embed code: http://goo.gl/gKeBLq

^House panel hears more on Syria<

^USSYRIA-CONGRESS:WA_<The House Foreign Affairs Committee holds its Syria hearing.

900 by William Douglas and James Rosen in Washington.

Moving later

^Troubles in emerging markets may dominate G-20 summit<

^G20-SUMMIT:TBW_<For the first time in several years, the annual G-20 summit won't be dominated by the Eurozone's debt troubles. But that may be little comfort to world leaders gathering this week in St. Petersburg, Russia.

In addition to sharp differences over the conflict in Syria, which is certain to hang over the meetings Thursday and Friday, President Barack Obama and other heads of the so-called Group of 20 major economies have a new economic threat on their hands.

After financial fires were contained in the U.S. and then Europe, things now are heating up in the emerging economies.

1200 (with trims) by Don Lee in Washington. MOVED



^German report links phone call to chemical attack<

USSYRIA-GERMANY:WA _ German intelligence intercepted a phone call between a Hezbollah commander and an unidentified official at an Iranian embassy that provided evidence that the Syrian government was behind the alleged Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack, a German newsmagazine has reported.

Tuesday's report was based on a classified briefing that German Foreign Intelligence Chief Gerhard Schindler gave selected German lawmakers Monday, according to the magazine, Der Spiegel.

750 (with trims) by Matthew Schofield in Berlin. MOVED

^France won't attack Syria if US doesn't, prime minister tells his Senate<

USSYRIA-FRANCE-1ST-LEDE:WA _ French leaders warned Wednesday that failing to respond to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would send a dangerous signal to the dictators of the world.

But French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault also said that his country would not launch a retaliatory strike on Syria if the United States decides not to do so.

650 (with trims) by Matthew Schofield in Berlin. MOVED

^Putin says Russia could support a strike on Syria<

RUSSIA-SYRIA:LA _ Russian President Vladimir Putin said he has not ruled out backing a U.S.-led military operation in Syria if the Kremlin gets concrete proof than an alleged chemical attack on civilians was committed by Bashar Assad's government.

"I don't rule this out," Putin said during a televised interview with First Channel, a Russian federal television network, and the Associated Press. "But I want to draw your attention to one absolutely principled issue: In accordance with the current international law, a sanction to use arms against a sovereign state can be given only by the U.N. Security Council."

1050 (with trims) by Sergei L. Loiko in Moscow. MOVED

^For members of Congress, vote on war is wrenching<

USSYRIA-LAWMAKERS:WA _ A vote on military action is the most wrenching, most profound decision a member of Congress can make, and that's why Tom Carper was glad the minister talked about the Syrian crisis in church.

Carper, a Democratic U.S. senator from Delaware, attended Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wilmington on Sunday. He heard Senior Pastor Greg Jones mourn the loss of so many innocent Syrian civilians, victims of an apparent chemical weapons attack.

All over Capitol Hill, members of Congress are trying to pry wisdom from experts, clergy and ordinary folks back home. There are political calculations, to be sure.

They search for comfort with a decision about life and death that will color their consciences and careers forever.

900 (with trims) by David Lightman in Washington. MOVED

^U.S. figure for casualties in Syria attack much higher than others'<

SYRIA-CASUALTIES:TBW _ The death toll given by the Obama administration for an alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack is far higher than confirmed counts of two key allies and a main activist group, which said it was shocked by the U.S. figure.

In pressing Congress to authorize a military strike against Syria, the administration has asserted that the government of President Bashar Assad killed 1,429 people, including at least 426 children, in an Aug. 21 attack on the suburbs of Damascus.

But Britain and France have cited far lower numbers of confirmed deaths, raising questions about the intelligence the White House is using to make its case to launch missile strikes against Syria.

950 (with trims) by Ken Dilanian and Shashank Bengali in Washington. MOVED


^Same-sex spouses can collect veterans' benefits, US says<

^GAYMARRIAGE-VETERANS:LA_<Spouses of veterans in same-sex marriages will be allowed to collect federal benefits, the Obama administration announced Wednesday in a move following the Supreme Court decision that struck down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act in June.

President Barack Obama directed the executive branch to stop enforcing two provisions that restricted the U.S. from awarding spousal benefits to veterans in legal gay marriages. The provisions define "spouse" as a "person of the opposite sex," Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. wrote Wednesday in a letter to Congress, adding that the Supreme Court's decision in United States vs. Windsor "strongly supports the conclusion that those provisions are unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment."

350 by Becca Clemons in Washington. MOVED

^'Food insecurity' strikes 17.6 million US households<

HUNGER:WA _ Some 17.6 million U.S. households had trouble feeding their family members at times last year as "food insecurity" remained at near-record levels for the fifth straight year, according to a government report released Wednesday.

450 by Tony Pugh in Washington. MOVED

^Manning seeks presidential pardon<

WIKILEAKS-MANNING:TBW _ Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, sentenced to 35 years in custody for giving a trove of top secret U.S. material to WikiLeaks, is asking the White House for a presidential pardon and release from prison because, as she said in her application, "The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world we live in."

In the pardon request, filed Tuesday and made public Wednesday, Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, said she leaked more than 700,000 military and State Department records in an effort to show that the U.S. in fighting two wars had "consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan."

450 by Richard A. Serrano in Washington. MOVED


^Autopsy finds Ariel Castro died by asphyxiation<

KIDNAPPED-GIRLS:LA _ Ariel Castro, who kidnapped and tortured three women over a decade in Cleveland, committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell, according to the coroner.

Franklin County coroner Dr. Jan Gorniak said Wednesday she had conducted a 90-minute autopsy and determined that Castro had committed suicide by hanging. Death was by asphyxiation, she said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

The body is with the coroner's office, and will be turned over to the next of kin, she said.

400 by Michael Muskal. MOVED


VIDEO: Ariel Castro commits suicide in prison

Preview: http://www.newslook.com/videos/605069-ariel-castro-commits-suicide-in-prison

Get embed code: http://goo.gl/ErUwTJ

^Bill Clinton offers case for Obamacare: 'We've got to do this'<

HEALTHCARE-BILLCLINTON:LA _ Opening a new phase of the White House campaign to sell the public on the nation's new health care program, former President Bill Clinton sought to clear up confusion about it Wednesday and called on the law's opponents to help smooth its implementation for the good of their constituents.

"We've got to do this," Clinton said in a speech to several hundred health care professionals and doctors in Little Rock, Ark. "The studies show that we are No. 1 by a country mile in the percentage of our income that we devote to health care costs, and rank no better than 25th to 33rd in the health care outcomes we get. This is the country that pioneered innovation in every other area of our national life; you cannot make me believe that we have to tolerate this from now until the end of eternity."

800 (with trims) by Maeve Reston. MOVED

^Florida hate-crime convict draws 12 years in prison<

HATECRIME:MI _ Luis Alberto Gonzalez could have faced up to 60 years prison under Florida's hate-crime law after his conviction on charges he tried to run his truck over two black men while yelling racial slurs in Hialeah.

But Gonzalez, who was shot by a black man during Miami's McDuffie race riots of 1980, had a distinguished supporter in tow at Wednesday's sentencing hearing: African-American scholar and historian Marvin Dunn, who insisted the convict was no racist.

900 (with trims) by David Ovalle in Miami. MOVED

^Court hears illegal immigrant's bid for law license<

IMMIGRANT-LAWLICENSE:SJ _ Boxed in by federal law, the California Supreme Court on Wednesday appeared unlikely to allow immigrants to be licensed to practice law unless they've secured legal immigration status first.

During more than an hour of arguments Wednesday, each of the court's seven justices indicated that a nearly 20-year-old federal immigration law blocks them from permitting illegal immigrants to become licensed California lawyers, even if they've passed the State Bar and are in the process of seeking citizenship.

500 by Howard Mintz in San Francisco. MOVED

^Whooping cough outbreak could be Texas' worst in 50 years<

MED-TEXAS-PERTUSSIS:FT _ A whooping cough outbreak in Texas could be the worst the state has seen in 50 years.

The Texas Department of State Health Services on Tuesday issued a health alert, advising doctors on how to diagnose and treat pertussis. Health officials urged residents to make sure their own vaccinations and those of their children are up to date.

700 by Gordon Dickson in Fort Worth, Texas. MOVED

^Siskiyou County votes to pursue secession from California<

CALIF-SISKIYOU:LA _ It's the Golden State's latest version of the Great Secession.

Fed up by Sacramento's regulations and Southern California's political sway, residents in one rural Northern California county are taking steps to leave the state.

The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to pursue seceding from California, the Redding Record Searchlight reported. Proponents say Siskiyou should form a new state _ called Jefferson _ with other counties in Northern California and Southern Oregon.

450 by Kate Mather. MOVED

^Florida porn industry must use condoms, AIDS group demands<

FLORIDA-PORN-CONDOMS:OS _ To make Florida's adult porn industry safer for performers, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has filed a condom complaint with the state's department of health. The foundation is asking that health officials enforce condom use in the filmmaking done in Florida to help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

500 by Marni Jameson in Orlando, Fla. MOVED

^Pa. judge leery of hearing 'complexities' in same-sex marriage case<

GAYMARRIAGE-PENNSYLVANIA:PH _ The Commonwealth Court Wednesday heard a smattering of "arcane legal arguments" and virtually no discussion of constitutionality in the state's lawsuit to force Montgomery County, Pa., to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

After hearing arguments for about an hour, President Judge Dan Pellegrini said he would rule "as quickly as I can" but gave no timetable.

500 by Jessica Parks in Harrisburg, Pa. MOVED

^Arizona Rep. Grijalva, a BLM critic, tours wild horse corrals in Nevada<

WILDHORSES:LA _ A major critic of the Bureau of Land Management's treatment of wild horses in the West was in Nevada on Wednesday to inspect an agency corral housing 1,500 mustangs recently rounded up from federal range land.

Arizona Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, the top Democrat on a congressional panel on public lands, is taking a tour with several animal advocates for an up-close view of a program that has divided activists and federal officials in 10 states across the West.

450 by John M. Glionna in Las Vegas. MOVED

^George Zimmerman gets speeding ticket in Florida<

TEENSLAIN-SPEEDING:OS _ George Zimmerman, the former Neighborhood Watch volunteer acquitted of murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, was pulled over for speeding in Lake Mary, Fla., on Tuesday, police said.

150 by Jeff Weiner in Orlando, Fla. MOVED


STAND-ALONE VIDEO: 1 teen dead in Houston high school stabbing

Preview: http://www.newslook.com/videos/605198-one-teen-dead-in-houston-high-school-stabbing

Get embed code: http://goo.gl/Gx53uH


^Obama drops in on Sweden for last-minute visit en route to Russia<

OBAMA-SWEDEN:TBW _ Like a distant cousin who unexpectedly shows up for dinner after years of ignoring invitations, President Barack Obama arrived in Sweden on Wednesday for a last-minute, but first-ever, presidential visit to this Scandinavian capital.

Obama visited on an unusually sunny day and was greeted by large crowds of spectators as he zipped through meetings, a visit to a Holocaust memorial and an evening of diplomacy on his way to a meeting of the Group of 20 major economies in St. Petersburg, Russia.

850 (with trims) by Kathleen Hennessey in Stockholm. MOVED

^Putin promises no anti-gay discrimination at Russia Olympics<

OLY-RUSSIA-GAYS:LA _ President Vladimir Putin is attempting to allay fears about Russia's new anti-gay law, saying there will be no discrimination during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

"We can be absolutely sure that Russia will support the principles of Olympism, which don't allow discrimination of people on any basis, either ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation," Putin said in an interview with Russia's First Channel television network and The Associated Press, which was posted on the Kremlin website Wednesday.

The law, which criminalizes public displays of support for gays and lesbians, has drawn international condemnation.

600 by Sergei L. Loiko in Moscow. MOVED

^Snowden contacted Russia while in Hong Kong, Putin says<

RUSSIA-NSA-RECORDS:LA _ Ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden had asked Russia for help before he flew to Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a wide-ranging interview with First Channel, a Russian federal television network, and the Associated Press.

Snowden, who leaked classified national security documents to several media outlets, met with Russian diplomats in Hong Kong before he flew to Russia, Putin said in the televised interview recorded Tuesday at Putin's country residence of Novo-Ogaryovo near Moscow and posted on the official Kremlin website.

700 by Sergei L. Loiko in Moscow. MOVED

^Opposition behind massive power outage, Venezuela's leader declares<

VENEZUELA:LA _ With parts of Venezuela still dark after a mysterious blackout that left the capital and 17 states without electricity, President Nicolas Maduro was to meet Wednesday with public utility and military officials to respond to the power failure, which he blamed on opposition sabotage.

The power shutdown began midday Tuesday after an apparent failure involving high-voltage transmission lines in western Aragua and Guarico states, which led to total power outage in several of the country's most populous areas.

Power was restored Tuesday night to metropolitan Caracas, the capital, and five states, according to a statement by Communications Minister Delcy Rodriguez.

350 by Mery Mogollon and Chris Kraul in Caracas, Venezuela. MOVED

^Chinese official with home in California is charged with taking bribes<

CHINA-OFFICIAL:LA _ The Chinese railroad official whose house in the Los Angeles suburb of Walnut drew the attention of anti-corruption investigators has been charged with accepting nearly $8 million in bribes, state media reported.

Zhang Shugung, 57, is alleged to have taken the money from contractors building China's high-speed rail lines. His indictment follows the conviction in June of former Railroad Minister Liu Zhijun, who was handed a suspended death sentence for accepting more than $10 million.

250 by Barbara Demick in Beijing. MOVED


^Tiny 'earless' frog hears sound with its mouth, scientists say<

SCI-EARLESS-FROGS:LA _ Tiny frogs that have no middle ear use their mouths to hear, French scientists say. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the almighty eardrum may not be vertebrates' only solution for picking up sound.

Gardiner's Seychelles frogs, known formally as Sechellophryne gardineri, are some of the tiniest amphibians to crawl the Earth, growing to a maximum 11 millimeters long. They and a few other species have evolved in isolation over the last 47 million to 65 million years, and aside from their extreme smallness, the frogs are known for being "earless" _ they lack a middle ear or an eardrum.

450 by Amina Khan in Los Angeles. MOVED


VIDEO: Tiny frog can hear through its mouth

Preview: http://www.newslook.com/videos/604969-tiny-frog-can-hear-through-its-mouth

Get embed code: http://goo.gl/xtwSDA



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