VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press
OBAMA GAINS BOEHNER'S SUPPORT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama won critical support from House Speaker John Boehner for a punitive strike against Syria on Tuesday, and senior Cabinet officials labored to convince Congress that Bashar Assad's government must be punished for a suspected chemical weapons attack the administration blames for more than 1,000 dead.
The leader of House Republicans, Boehner emerged from a meeting at the White House and said the United States has "enemies around the world that need to understand that we're not going to tolerate this type of behavior. We also have allies around the world and allies in the region who also need to know that America will be there and stand up when it's necessary."
Boehner spoke as lawmakers in both parties readied changes in the president's requested legislation, rewriting it to restrict the type and duration of any military action that would be authorized, possibly including a ban on U.S. combat forces on the ground.
Secretary of State John Kerry, lead-off witness at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, said, "President Obama is not asking America to go to war." And yet, he added, "this is not the time for armchair isolationism. This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter."
Obama said he was open to revisions in the relatively broad request the White House made over the weekend. He expressed confidence Congress would respond to his call for support in a military action against Assad, whose government the president said used chemical weapons indiscriminately and "killed thousands of people, including over 400 children."
The administration says 1,429 died in the episode. Casualty estimates by other groups from the attack on Aug. 21 in a Damascus suburb are far lower, and Assad's government blames the episode on rebels who have been seeking to overthrow his government in a civil war that began over two years ago. A United Nations inspection team is awaiting lab results on tissue and soil samples it collected while in the country before completing a closely watched report.
SYRIA IS SAID TO BE HIDING WEAPONS, MOVING TROOPS
BEIRUT (AP) -- As the Obama administration tries to prod Congress into backing armed action against Syria, the regime in Damascus is hiding military hardware and shifting troops out of bases into civilian areas.
Politically, President Bashar Assad has gone on the offensive, warning in a rare interview with Western media that any military action against Syria could spark a regional war.
If the U.S. undertakes missile strikes, Assad's reaction could have a major effect on the trajectory of Syria's civil war. Neighboring countries could get dragged into a wider conflict, or it could be back to business as usual for a crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people over 2 1/2 years.
The main Western-backed opposition group says that during the buildup last week to what seemed like an imminent U.S. attack, the army moved troops as well as rocket launchers, artillery and other heavy weapons into residential neighborhoods in cities nationwide. Three Damascus residents, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, confirmed such movements.
One man said two members of the elite Republican Guards broke into an empty house he owns and showed him an official document stating they were authorized to do so because Syria is at war. A woman in another area said soldiers moved into a school next to her house.
A U.S. official confirmed there are indications that the Syrian regime is taking steps to move some of its military equipment and bolster protection for defense facilities.
In an interview published Monday with the French newspaper Le Figaro, Assad refused to say how Syria would respond to Western strikes, but warned that "the risk of a regional war exists."
The regime has a range of options if the U.S. does bomb. It could retaliate with rockets against U.S. allies in the region. It could unleash allies like Hezbollah against Western targets abroad. Or it could do nothing - and score propaganda points by portraying itself as victim of U.S. aggression.
NYAD: MATURITY HELPED ME ACHIEVE RECORD SWIM
KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) -- The clocks Diana Nyad uses to time her training swims show that she's a slower swimmer than she used to be. That's only natural: At age 64, she acknowledges she is no longer the "thoroughbred stallion" she was "back in the day."
And yet, the endurance athlete says she felt stronger than ever when she completed her successful effort to become the first person to swim 110 miles from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.
"Now I'm more like a Clydesdale: I'm a little thicker and stronger - literally stronger, I can lift more weights," Nyad told The Associated Press in a one-on-one interview Tuesday, a day after she finished her 53-hour, record-setting swim.
"I feel like I could walk through a brick wall. ... I think I'm truly dead center in the prime of my life at 64."
Nyad isn't alone among aging athletes who are dominating their sports.
Earlier this year, 48-year-old Bernard Hopkins became the oldest boxer to win a major title, scoring a 12-round unanimous decision over Tavoris Cloud to claim the IBF light heavyweight championship.
Tennis player Martina Navratilova played in the mixed doubles competition at Wimbledon in her late 40s, and hockey legend Gordie Howe played in the NHL in his 50s.
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