VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press
BROADER SYRIA PEACE TALKS? CHEMICAL WEAPONS FIRST
GENEVA (AP) -- The top diplomats from the United States and Russia raised hopes for reviving broader talks to end the Syrian civil war Friday, even as they showed scant progress in hurried efforts to tackle one horrific part - the chemical weapons fired on civilians. U.N. inspectors prepared to turn in their own poison gas report this weekend.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he expected the inspectors to release "an overwhelming report" that chemical weapons were indeed used on the outskirts of Damascus on Aug. 21. The chief inspector, Ake Sellstrom, told The Associated Press the report was ready, but he wouldn't comment on its conclusions.
Leading the central talks in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made clear that any prospects for restarting broad peace negotiations depend on first settling the standoff over chemical weapons. But they didn't disclose any clear movement since their meetings began Thursday with Kerry's dismissal of Syrian President Bashar Assad's offer to begin by turning over information, not weapons, starting weeks from now after signing an international convention.
Meanwhile, Kerry and Lavrov met with U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi about the potential for a new Geneva peace conference. Kerry said he, Lavrov and Brahimi agreed to meet around Sept. 28 on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York.
FLORIDA GIRL WAS BULLIED FOR MONTHS BEFORE SUICIDE
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- For nearly a year, as many as 15 girls ganged up on 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick and picked on her, authorities say, bombarding her with online messages such as "You should die" and "Why don't you go kill yourself."
Rebecca couldn't take it anymore.
She changed one of her online screen names to "That Dead Girl." She messaged a boy in North Carolina: "I'm jumping." And then, on Monday, the Lakeland girl went to an abandoned concrete plant, climbed a tower and hurled herself to her death.
Authorities have seized computers and cellphones from some of the girls as they decide whether to bring charges in what appeared to be the nation's latest deadly cyberbullying case.
The bullying started over a "boyfriend issue" last year at Crystal Lake Middle School, Sheriff Grady Judd said. But he gave no details. Police said Rebecca was suspended at one point for fighting with a girl who used to be her friend.
Rebecca had been "absolutely terrorized" by the other girls, Judd said. He said detectives found some of her diaries at her home, and she talked of how depressed she was about the situation.
"There is a lot of digital drama. Middle-school kids are horrible to each other, especially girls," said Perry Aftab, a New Jersey-based lawyer and expert on cyberbullying.
In a review of news articles, The Associated Press found about a dozen suicides in the U.S. since October 2010 that were attributed at least in part to cyberbullying. Aftab said she believes the real number is at least twice that.
OBAMA WATER CAMPAIGN RAISES ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE
WATERTOWN, Wis. (AP) -- First lady Michelle Obama led Wisconsin high school students in a toast to "the best drink in town" Thursday as she launched a campaign to encourage people to drink more water - something she said was the single best thing Americans could do to improve their health.
"Water is so basic, and because it is so plentiful, sometimes we just forget about it amid all the ads we watch on television and all the messages we receive every day about what to eat and drink," Mrs. Obama said. "The truth is, water just gets drowned out."
The first lady launched the campaign for the nonprofit Partnership for a Healthier America in Watertown in part because the city has been recognized for the quality of its water.
While the new campaign is widely viewed as encouraging people to drink water rather than sugary sodas, partnership president and CEO Larry Soler said it is not about pushing a particular type of water or stressing it over other beverages.
The first lady long ago backed away from criticism of soda because her anti-childhood obesity initiative, "Let's Move," is premised on the idea that change won't happen without buy-in from the food industry, New York University food scientist Marion Nestle said.
The latest campaign is backed by the American Beverage Association, which represents the makers of soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and juices as well as bottled water, and the International Bottled Water Association.
Environmental advocates say they're disappointed the campaign ignores concerns about plastic bottles ending up in waterways and reductions in federal funding for public water systems.
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