Syria dismisses decision
to hold off on strikes, moves troops and
weapons to civilian areas
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syria on Sunday derided President Barack Obama’s decision to hold off on punitive military strikes, but also took precautions by reportedly moving some troops and military equipment to civilian areas.
The Obama administration countered that its case for military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad is getting stronger, saying it now has evidence that the toxic gas allegedly used in strikes on rebel-held areas was the nerve agent sarin.
The administration predicted Sunday it will obtain congressional backing for limited strikes. After days of edging closer to military action against Syria, Obama suddenly announced Saturday he would first seek approval from Congress, which gets back from summer break Sept. 9.
Assad, in turn, tried to project confidence in his escalating showdown with the U.S., saying in comments carried by state media Sunday that Syria is "capable of confronting any external aggression."
From the sidelines, others exhorted the U.S. either to get involved or stay out of the brutal two-and-a-half-year-old conflict that has claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced millions of people.
For Obama, decision to pull back from the brink
in Syria tests credibility
WASHINGTON (AP) -- For more than a week, the White House had been barreling toward imminent military action against Syria. But President Barack Obama’s abrupt decision to instead ask Congress for permission left him with a high-risk gamble that could devastate his credibility if no action is ultimately taken in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack that crossed his own "red line."
The stunning reversal also raises questions about the president’s decisiveness and could embolden leaders in Syria, Iran, North Korea and elsewhere, leaving them with the impression of a U.S. president unwilling to back up his words with actions.
The president, in a hastily announced statement Saturday in the White House Rose Garden, argued that he did in fact have the power to act on his own. But faced with the prospect of taking action opposed by many Americans, the commander in chief tried to shift the burden and instead round up partners on Capitol Hill to share in that responsibility.
"While I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective," Obama said. "We should have this debate."
The consequences for Obama’s turnabout could be sweeping, both at home and abroad. If Congress votes against military action, it would mark a humiliating defeat for a second-term president already fighting to stay relevant and wield influence in Washington. It could also weaken his standing internationally at a time when there are already growing questions about the scope of American influence, particularly in the Arab world.
Egypt chief prosecutor refers ousted president Morsi to trial for inciting deadly violence
CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt’s top prosecutor referred Sunday ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi to trial on charges of inciting the killing of opponents protesting outside his palace while he was in office, the state news agency said.
The military ousted Morsi on July 3 after millions took to the street demanding he step down. He’s been held incommunicado since. Despite other accusations by prosecutors, Sunday’s decision is his first referral to trial. No date was announced for the trial.
Morsi will be tried, along with 14 members of his Muslim Brotherhood, in a criminal court for allegedly committing acts of violence, and inciting the killing of at least 10 people.
The case dates back to one of the deadliest bouts of violence during Morsi’s one year in office. At least 100,000 protesters gathered outside his presidential palace on Dec. 4, protesting a decree he issued to protect his decisions from judicial oversight and a highly disputed draft constitution that was hurriedly adopted in the Islamist-dominated parliament.
Protesters demanded he call off a referendum scheduled days later. The next day, Islamist groups and supporters of Morsi attacked protesters who camped out there, sparking deadly street battles that left at least 10 dead and sending chills among Morsi’ opponents that he had relied on organized mobs to defend his palace.
Mandela discharged from hospital, still in critical condition, will get intensive care at home
JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- Nelson Mandela went home in an ambulance on Sunday after nearly three months in a hospital that became the focus of a global outpouring of concern, but authorities said the health of the former South African president remained critical and sometimes unstable.
The return of the 95-year-old leader of the anti-apartheid movement to his home in an affluent neighborhood of Johannesburg allows his family to share time with him in a more intimate setting.
The office of South African President Jacob Zuma said Mandela will receive the same level of intensive care that he did in the hospital, administered by the same doctors.
Zuma’s office said the team of doctors treating Mandela, also known by his clan name Madiba, is "convinced that he will receive the same level of intensive care at his Houghton home that he received in Pretoria. His home has been reconfigured to allow him to receive intensive care there."
The statement also said: "If there are health conditions that warrant another admission to hospital in future, this will be done."
Veteran British broadcaster David Frost, who won
fame for Nixon interview, dies on cruise ship
LONDON (AP) -- David Frost had sparred with Richard Nixon for hours, recording a series of interviews with the former president three years after he stepped down in disgrace over Watergate. But as the sessions drew to a close, Frost realized he still lacked something: an acknowledgement by Nixon that he had been wrong.
Nixon had admitted making mistakes, but Frost put down his clipboard and pressed his subject on whether that was enough. Americans, he said, wanted to hear him own up to his misdeeds and acknowledge abusing the power of the White House.
"Unless you say it, you’re going to be haunted for the rest of your life," the British broadcaster told Nixon.
What came next were some of the most extraordinary comments ever made by a politician on television. For Frost, who died Saturday, it was the signature moment of an illustrious television career that spanned half a century and included interviews with a long list of the world’s most powerful and famous, including virtually every British prime minister and U.S. president of his time.
A natural at TV hosting, he seemed to effortlessly inhabit the worlds of entertainment and politics. As a satirist, a game show host and a journalist, he disarmed others with unfailing affability and personal charm. New SF-Oakland Bay Bridge on track to open, after years of delays and billions of extra costs
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.
Michael Jackson’s friendships with his
doctors scrutinized in
case filed over his death
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- For Michael Jackson, a trip to the doctor’s office sometimes wasn’t just paying a visit to a health care provider. It was paying a visit to a trusted friend.
A jury has been hearing for weeks about the pop superstar’s close relationship with many of his medical providers -- spending Christmas with some doctors, inviting others to spend time at Neverland Ranch. His primary care doctor served as the best man at the singer’s second wedding, to a woman who worked in his dermatologist’s office and became a frequent companion on his medical visits.
Jackson’s relationship with his final doctor, Conrad Murray, is important to the negligent hiring case, but in the process jurors are getting an inside look at celebrity health care -- after-hours visits, house calls and false names on records and prescriptions -- that are meant to preserve confidentiality but can present ethical challenges for doctors. They have also heard a detailed portrait of medical history, including painful burns and the skin conditions vitiligo and discoid lupus that led Jackson to feel he was disfigured.
Other practitioners have recounted stories of telling Jackson they wouldn’t comply with his requests for painkillers or the powerful anesthetic that would kill him in his bedroom in 2009.
The parade of testimony from Jackson’s doctors is central to the defense case being mounted by AEG Live LLC, the company promoting Jackson’s ill-fated comeback concerts, which is being sued by the singer’s mother. Katherine Jackson says the company hired Murray to help her son prepare for his "This Is It" shows. In the process, her attorneys say, AEG Live created a conflict of interest that compelled Murray to provide her son with the anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid in order to preserve his anticipated $150,000 a month payday.