VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press
OBAMA: SYRIAN GOV'T CARRIED OUT CHEMICAL ATTACK
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama on Wednesday declared unequivocally that the United States has "concluded" that the Syrian government carried out a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians last week.
Obama did not present any direct evidence to back up his assertions. He said he is still evaluating possible military options in retaliation for the attack that killed hundreds near Damascus, but vowed that any American response would send a "strong signal" to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
"We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out," Obama said during an interview with PBS' NewsHour. "And if that's so, then there need to be international consequences."
Earlier Wednesday, administration officials said they would take action against the Syrian government even without the backing of allies or the United Nations because diplomatic paralysis must not prevent a response to the alleged chemical weapons attack outside the Syrian capital. The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council failed to reach an agreement Wednesday on a draft resolution from the British seeking authorization for the use of force. Russia, as expected, objected to international intervention.
The president said he was not seeking a lengthy, open-ended conflict in Syria, indicating that any U.S. response would be limited in scope. But he argued that Syria's use of chemical weapons not only violated international norms, but threatened "America's core self-interest."
FEARS OF WESTERN STRIKE ON SYRIA SPREAD IN MIDEAST
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Fears of a possible U.S. strike against Syria's regime over an alleged chemical weapons attack rippled across the region Wednesday, as about 6,000 Syrians fled to neighboring Lebanon in a 24-hour period and Israelis scrambled for gas masks in case Damascus retaliates against them.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon pleaded for more time for diplomacy and to allow U.N. investigators to complete their work. The experts, wearing flak jackets and helmets, collected blood and urine samples from victims during a visit to at least one of the areas hit in last week's attack.
Seven days after chemical weapons were purportedly unleashed on rebel-held suburbs of the Syrian capital, momentum grew toward Western military action against President Bashar Assad's regime. At the same time, Syria's chief allies, Russia and Iran, warned of dire consequences for the region if any armed intervention is undertaken.
U.S. leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden, have charged that Assad's government was behind the Aug. 21 attack that Doctors Without Borders says killed at least 355 people. The White House says it's planning a possible military response while seeking support from international partners.
SCIENTISTS FIND CLUE TO AGE-RELATED MEMORY LOSS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Scientists have found a compelling clue in the quest to learn what causes age-related memory problems, and to one day be able to tell if those misplaced car keys are just a senior moment or an early warning of something worse.
Wednesday's report offers evidence that age-related memory loss really is a distinct condition from pre-Alzheimer's - and offers a hint that what we now consider the normal forgetfulness of old age might eventually be treatable.
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center examined brains, young and old ones, donated from people who died without signs of neurologic disease. They discovered that a certain gene in a specific part of the hippocampus, the brain's memory center, quits working properly in older people. It produces less of a key protein.
But it's circumstantial evidence that having less of that protein, named RbAp48, affects memory loss in older adults. So the researchers took a closer look at mice, which become forgetful as they age in much the same way that people do.
Sure enough, cutting levels of the protein made healthy young rodents lose their way in mazes and perform worse on other memory tasks just like old mice naturally do.
More intriguing, the memory loss was reversible: Boosting the protein made forgetful old mice as sharp as the youngsters again, the researchers reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
"It's the best evidence so far" that age-related memory loss isn't the same as early Alzheimer's, said Nobel laureate Dr. Eric Kandel, who led the Columbia University team.
And since some people make it to 100 without showing much of a cognitive slowdown, the work begs another question: "Is that normal aging, or is it a deterioration that we're allowing to occur?" Kandel said.
This is early-stage research that will require years of additional work to confirm, cautioned Dr. Molly Wagster of the National Institute on Aging, who wasn't involved with the report.
But Wagster said the findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting "that we're not all on the road to Alzheimer's disease" after we pass a certain age.
Some good news: Scientists already know that exercise makes the dentate gyrus - that age-targeted spot in the hippocampus - function better, Small said. He's also studying if nutrition might make a difference.
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