VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press
TOKYO WILL HOST 2020 OLYMPICS
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympics on Saturday, capitalizing on its reputation as a "safe pair of hands" and defying concerns about the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
Tokyo defeated Istanbul 60-36 in the final round of secret voting Saturday by the International Olympic Committee. Madrid was eliminated earlier after an initial tie with Istanbul.
Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, billed itself as the safe and reliable choice at a time of global political and economic uncertainty.
"Tokyo can be trusted to be the safe pair of hands and much more," bid leader and IOC member Tsunekazu Takeda said in the final presentation. "Our case today is simple. Vote for Tokyo and you vote for guaranteed delivery. ... Tokyo is the right partner at the right time."
Tokyo had been on the defensive in the final days of the campaign because of mounting concerns over the leak of radioactive water from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
In the final presentation before the vote, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave the IOC assurances that the Fukushima leak was not a threat to Tokyo and took personal responsibility for keeping the games safe.
BACK HOME, HIGH-STAKES WEEK ON SYRIA AWAITS OBAMA
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama faces a high-stakes week of trying to convince a skeptical Congress and a war-weary American public that they should back him on a military strike against Syria.
His administration came under pressure Saturday from European officials to delay possible action until U.N. inspectors report their findings about an Aug. 21 chemical attack that Obama blames on the Assad government.
Foreign ministers meeting in Lithuania with Secretary of State John Kerry did endorse a "clear and strong response" to an attack they said strongly points to President Bashar Assad's government. Kerry welcomed the "strong statement about the need for accountability." But the EU did not specify what an appropriate response would be.
Obama received an update Saturday afternoon from his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, on the administration's latest outreach to members of Congress, the White House said.
Obama called a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Friday and was expected to make more calls this weekend.
The days ahead represent one of the most intense periods of congressional outreach for Obama, who's not known for investing heavily in consultations with Capitol Hill.
VATICAN: 100,000 ATTEND SYRIA PEACE VIGIL
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Tens of thousands of people filled St. Peter's Square for a four-hour Syria peace vigil late Saturday, answering Pope Francis' call for a grassroots cry for peace that was echoed by Christians and non-Christians alike in Syria and in vigils around the world.
The Vatican estimated about 100,000 took part in the Rome event, making it one of the largest rallies in the West against proposed U.S.-led military action against the Syrian regime following the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus.
Francis spent most of the vigil in silent prayer, but during his speech he issued a heartfelt plea for peace, denouncing those who are "captivated by the idols of dominion and power" and destroy God's creation through war.
"This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: Violence and war are never the way to peace!" he said.
"May the noise of weapons cease!" he said. "War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity."
In Damascus, a few dozen Syrian Christians attended a service in the al-Zaytoun Church, joining Francis' invitation for a global participation in the day of fasting and prayer and to oppose outside military intervention in the conflict.
Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III Laham of Antioch and All East presided, saying most countries supported a political solution to the crisis in Syria and few wanted military action. "This is the start of the victory," he told the Damascus faithful. "No to war. Yes for peace."
Francis has condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria, but has been careful not to lay blame on any one side, exhorting world leaders instead to focus on the plight of Syrian civilians and the need in general to end the violence.
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