VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press
CITING SARIN USE, US SEEKS CONGRESS' OK FOR ACTION
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration geared up for the biggest foreign policy vote since the Iraq war by arguing Sunday that new physical evidence shows the Syrian government used sarin gas in a deadly August attack. The United States must respond with its credibility on the line, the country's top diplomat said.
Members of Congress, deadlocked on just about everything these days and still on summer break, expressed sharply divergent opinions about whether to give President Barack Obama the go-ahead he requested to retaliate with military force against the Assad regime, and what turning down the commander in chief could mean for America's reputation.
Presenting Obama's case for military action, Secretary of State John Kerry gave a series of interviews on Sunday news shows outlining the latest information the administration has received about the Aug. 21 attack in the Damascus suburbs that the U.S. says killed 1,429 civilians, including more than 400 children.
He said samples collected by first responders added to the growing body of proof that Syria's government launched a chemical weapons attack.
Kerry's assertion coincided with the beginning of a forceful administration appeal for congressional support, now that Obama has declared he will await approval from the House and Senate before ordering any cruise missile strikes or other action.
On Capitol Hill, senior administration officials briefed lawmakers in private to explain why the U.S. is compelled to act against President Bashar Assad's government. Further classified meetings were planned over the next three days.
Assad's government, which has denied allegations of chemical weapons use, reveled in Obama's decision to defer any immediate action. Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mikdad claimed that the move reflected the lack of evidence of government culpability.
With Navy ships on standby in the eastern Mediterranean sea ready to launch missiles, Congress began a series of meetings that will take place over the next several days in preparation for a vote once lawmakers return from summer break, which is scheduled to end Sept. 9.
SIERRA WILDFIRE NOW CALIFORNIA'S FOURTH-LARGEST
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) -- The wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park has become the fourth-largest conflagration in modern California history, fire officials said Sunday as clouds and higher humidity helped crews further contain the biggest blaze in the United States this year.
The 2-week-old Rim Fire moved up a spot on the state's list of large wildfires dating back to 1932 when it grew to 348 square miles - an area larger than the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose combined - on Saturday, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant said.
Although the fire still is growing, it was 40 percent contained as of Sunday, up from 35 percent a day earlier.
Moister air was expected to slow flames from advancing through brush and trees, giving firefighters room to set backfires, dig containment lines and to strengthen lines around threatened communities, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Pam Baltimore said.
Full containment is not expected until Sept. 20.
NEW SF-OAKLAND BAY BRIDGE ON TRACK TO OPEN
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Crews are on pace to put the finishing touches on a new stretch of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and the span should be ready to open as planned early this week, officials say.
When traffic flows across the new eastern part of the span for the first time, it will do so nearly a quarter-century after a deadly earthquake during the 1989 World Series collapsed two 50-foot sections of the old structure.
The 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta quake hit just as millions tuned in to watch Game 3 of the "Bay Bridge World Series" between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants, killing 63 people and causing up to $10 billion in damage.
The Bay Bridge failure, one of the temblor's most memorable images, prompted one of the costliest public works projects in state history. The $6.4 billion project finally draws to a close after decades of political bickering, engineering challenges and billions in cost overruns. Transportation officials say the bridge should be ready to open as scheduled by 5 a.m. Tuesday after being closed for five days.
The years of past delays magnified public safety concerns over the need for a permanent solution as the original, seismically unsafe bridge was patched up and continued operating.
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