UPDATE: US readies rationale for possible Syria strike
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have conferred about possible military options in Syria.
The U.S. and its international partner are convinced the regime of President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons last week in an attack on civilians.
Vice President Joe Biden calls the attack "heinous" and said there's no doubt government forces are to blame.
Venezuela president warns against attack on Syria
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says any outside military action taken against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons on its own citizens could lead to a "disastrous war."
Maduro is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and made the comment Tuesday while visiting a Russian warship in Venezuela's La Guaira port.
He says the military intervention that the U.S. and other nations are contemplating could, in his words, "be the beginning of a great international conflagration."
Maduro says the allegation of chemical weapons use by Syria on Aug. 21 "smells the same" as one of the reasons cited by Washington for invading Iraq in 2003 — that the Iraqis possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Obama taps former CIA deputy for intel panel
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Barack Obama has tapped his former deputy CIA director for a review panel aimed at boosting public confidence in U.S. surveillance programs.
Michael Morrell stepped down from the CIA on Aug. 9. That's the same day Obama announced he would create a panel to review U.S. intelligence and communications.
It's one of the reforms Obama put forth to allay concerns over programs exposed by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
The White House says Obama and the panel met Tuesday. Obama requested an interim report within 60 days, and a final report and recommendations by mid-December.
Also on the panel are Clinton-era cybersecurity adviser Richard Clarke, University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone, and former Obama officials Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire.
Structure losses rise in Sierra Nevada wildfire
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The number of structures destroyed by the big wildfire in California's Sierra Nevada has risen from 23 to 101.
Fire information officials, however, have not identified what types of structures have been burned.
About 4,500 structures remain threatened.
The fire burning in the Stanislaus National Forest and in portions of Yosemite National Park surpassed 280 square miles Tuesday.
It's the seventh-largest California wildfire on record going back to 1932.
The fire broke out Aug. 17 and the cause remains under investigation.
Grass fire burns homes in Northern California city
FAIRFIELD, Calif. (AP) — A fire sparked on a grassy hillside jumped into trees and then burned several homes in a crowded Northern California neighborhood.
Fairfield County Public Information Officer Gail Spears tells KGO-TV that five houses have burned in the city of Fairfield, about 40 miles northeast of San Francisco. The homes were on Marigold Drive near Interstate 80.
Spears says fire crews are protecting threatened structures including homes and a nearby apartment complex.
Several cars in a parking lot along I-80 also went up in flames. However, thick black smoke that briefly shut two lanes of the interstate has dissipated, and the highway is fully open again.
Dozens of Fairfield homes are evacuated.
The local fire agency is getting help from the California Department of Forestry and the Contra Costa County Fire Department.
The cause of the blaze is unknown.
NYC asks judge to freeze her stop-and-frisk ruling
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City's lawyers are asking a federal judge to hold her ruling ordering major changes to the police department's stop-and-frisk policy until an appeal can be heard.
U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin (SHEER'-uh SHIND'-lin) ruled this month the New York Police Department violated the civil rights of minorities with the policy. She ordered an outside monitor to oversee major changes.
The city is appealing the decision. On Tuesday the city asked the judge to hold off on implementing her ruling until the appeal is decided. If the judge refuses, the city can ask a federal appeals court to freeze the ruling.
The city's filing says the judge should hold her ruling because it was erroneous and the prescribed changes could cause harm to public safety.
California governor proposes $315M prison fix
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown is asking state lawmakers to approve spending $315 million this year to lease cells in private prisons and jails as an alternative to releasing roughly 9,600 inmates to comply with a federal court order.
The proposal made Tuesday could cost $700 million over two years.
The state faces a year-end deadline to reduce prison overcrowding to comply with federal court orders designed to improve medical care for inmates.
Brown is appealing that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court but has said he wants to avoid a mass release of inmates.
During a news conference, the governor said he wants lawmakers and the courts to let the state rent private cells in California and other states, and to lease excess jail cells from counties.
NAVAL ACADEMY-SEXUAL ASSAULT
Lawyers debate evidence in Naval Academy hearing
WASHINGTON (AP) — The first day of a hearing for three U.S. Naval Academy students charged with sexual assault has ended after attorneys spent hours arguing about what evidence should be allowed.
The hearing began Tuesday at the Washington Navy Yard. It is being held to determine whether the midshipmen will face a court-martial.
Midshipman Josh Tate, Eric Graham and Tra'ves Bush are charged with sexually assaulting a female midshipman in 2012 at an off-campus house in Annapolis, Md.
The three students were on the academy's football team. None of the students has publicly responded to the allegations.
The alleged victim is scheduled to testify at the hearing early Wednesday.
NEW: Family no longer seeks kidnapped Calif. teen's DNA
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The sister of a man suspected of kidnapping a 16-year-old girl and killing her mother and younger brother says she no longer wants paternity tests to determine if the suspect fathered the children.
Lora Robinson says she hasn't asked for DNA to determine if James DiMaggio fathered the children and she doesn't plan to. Last week, a DiMaggio family spokesman said she wanted DNA of Hannah and Ethan Anderson.
Robinson says the request was prompted by rumors that her brother fathered the children but that she doesn't think a test is needed.
Scientists say existence of new element confirmed
BERLIN (AP) — Scientists in Sweden say they have confirmed the existence of a new chemical element, but its name may need some work.
Researchers at Lund University said Tuesday their find backs up claims by teams in Russia and the United States a decade ago that had remained unverified until now.
The Swedish scientists say they conducted experiments which allowed them to detect the 'fingerprint' of the short-lived but super-heavy element that's been dubbed ununpentium.
The name, which refers to the element's 115th place in the periodic table, is only provisional.
The element will likely get a new name if the discovery is formally approved by experts from the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics and Chemistry.
Well-known chemical elements include carbon, silicon and iron.
NEW: Player dies of heart attack in match in Argentina
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A player from a third-division Argentine soccer club has died of a heart attack during a match.
Club Deportivo Laferrere says Hector Sanabria collapsed in the 29th minute of a game against General Lamadrid on Tuesday — a day before his 28th birthday.
Doctors attended to Sanabria on the field but he was dead by the time he reached a hospital.
Referee Hernan Mastrangelo, who suspended the match, told the Telam state news agency that Sanabria was not near other players when he collapsed and it did not appear he was involved in any earlier incident that could have contributed to the heart failure.
The Argentine Football Federation says all weekend matches will be preceded by a minute of silence in Sanabria's honor.
Obama says 'The Butler' movie made him tear up
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says he got teary while watching "Lee Daniels' The Butler," a movie about a black White House servant who worked for several presidents.
Obama says he reflected on the effects of discrimination on a generation of people. He says that generation displayed dignity and tenacity and, quote, "put up with a whole lot of mess because they hoped for something better for their kids."
Obama discussed the movie with radio host Tom Joyner and co-host Sybil Wilkes of the "Tom Joyner Morning Show."
Obama said White House butlers have been kind and warm to his family. He suspects that part of it is they look at his daughters, Malia and Sasha, and they say, quoting, "Well, this looks like my grandbaby or this looks like my daughter."
Created: Wed, 28 Aug 2013 01:16:11 EST
Updated: Wed, 28 Aug 2013 01:16:11 EST