Obama, national security team meet on Syria
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. intelligence officials are still trying to determine whether Syrian President Bashar Assad unleashed a deadly chemical weapons attack against his people earlier this week.
That's the word from the White House after President Barack Obama met with his national security team Saturday to discuss possible next steps in Syria. Officials have said Obama will decide how to respond once the facts are clear.
A statement from the White House about Saturday's meeting said Obama also received a detailed review of the range of options he has requested for the U.S. and its international to respond if it is determined that Assad has engaged in deadly chemical warfare.
The White House says Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron also discussed the situation in Syria by telephone Saturday.
UPDATE: Syria warns US not to intervene militarily
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The Syrian government is accusing rebels of using chemical weapons and is warning the United States not to launch any military action against Damascus over an alleged chemical attack last week, saying such a move would set the Middle East ablaze.
The regime of President Bashar Assad made the accusations against opposition forces at the same time an international aid group says it has tallied 355 deaths from a purported chemical weapons attack on Wednesday in a suburb of the Syrian capital.
Meanwhile, U.S. naval units are moving closer to Syria as President Barack Obama considers a possible military response.
U.S. defense officials say the Navy had sent a fourth warship armed with ballistic missiles into the eastern Mediterranean Sea but without immediate orders for any missile launch into Syria. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss ship movements publicly.
MARCH ON WASHINGTON
King's son says 'The task is not done'
WASHINGTON (AP) — Martin Luther King III says today is "not the time for nostalgic commemoration" or "self-congratulatory celebration."
The oldest son of the slain civil rights leader told a crowd at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington that "The journey is not complete. We can and we must do more."
Tens of thousands gathered on the National Mall today to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
Georgia Congressman John Lewis, the only surviving speaker from the 1963 march, railed against a recent Supreme Court decision that effectively erased a key anti-discrimination provision of the Voting Rights Act.
Lewis was a leader of a 1965 march where police beat and gassed marchers who demanded access to voting booths. He says he "gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Ala., for the right to vote."
Attorney General Eric Holder praised those who faced repression and brutality to march a half century ago. The nation's first black attorney general said that without them, he'd never be the attorney general and Barack Obama wouldn't be president.
NEW: Justice Dept. sues Louisiana over school vouchers
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department is suing the state of Louisiana to stop the state from distributing school vouchers in districts that remain under desegregation court orders.
Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal called the department's action Saturday "shameful" and said President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder "are trying to keep kids trapped in failing public schools."
In papers filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, the Justice Department says Louisiana distributed vouchers in 2012-13 to nearly 600 public school students in districts that are still under such orders, and "many of those vouchers impeded the desegregation process."
The department said Louisiana has given vouchers this school year to students in at least 22 districts remaining under desegregation orders.
Jindal called school choice "a moral imperative."
Yosemite takes steps to protect sequoias from fire
GROVELAND, Calif. (AP) — As a wildfire rages along the remote northwest edge of Yosemite National Park, officials are clearing brush and setting sprinklers to save two groves of giant sequoias.
The iconic trees can resist fire, but park spokesman Tom Medena said dry conditions and heavy brush are forcing fire officials to take extra precautions in the Tuolumne and Merced groves. About three dozen of the giant trees are affected.
The trees grow naturally only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada.
The fire has burned more than 200 square miles near the park's northern boundary. It is just 5 percent contained.
More than 5,500 homes are threatened and four were destroyed. Voluntary and mandatory evacuations have been ordered.
The fire has been burning for a week. The cause is under investigation.
Service held for Hannah Anderson's mom, brother
SANTEE, Calif. (AP) — Calling their deaths "an abomination," a priest memorialized a mother and young son killed by a family friend who also abducted the woman's 16-year-old daughter.
The service Saturday for Christina Anderson and 8-year-old Ethan Anderson at the Guardian Angels Roman Catholic Church in Santee was open to the public.
The Los Angeles Times reports Rev. Kevin Casey told the memorial gathering that the community was "touched by this evil and we can never be the same again."
The mother and son were found at the home of James Lee DiMaggio, who set it ablaze earlier this month.
DiMaggio was killed by FBI agents Aug. 10 in the Idaho wilderness, six days after abducing 16-year-old Hannah Anderson, who was not physically harmed.
Authorities have declined to discuss a possible motive.
TRUCKING COMPANY SHOOTINGS
NEW: 3 dead, 2 wounded in Fla. truck company shootings
LAKE BUTLER, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a longtime employee of a Florida trucking company killed himself after fatally shooting his former boss and a coworker and wounding two others.
A news release from the Union County Sheriff's Office says gunman Hubert Allen Jr. drove to several locations Saturday morning and shot the four men. Three of them were Allen's former co-workers at Pritchett Trucking Inc., and the fourth was company owner Marvin Pritchett.
The sheriff's office says the gunman fatally shot Pritchett and Rolando Gonzalez-Delgado.
One of the wounded men was in critical condition and the other was in good condition.
Authorities say the 72-year-old Allen returned to his home in North Florida's Lake Butler and fatally shot himself.
Investigators declined to discuss a motive. Messages left seeking further comment from the sheriff's office weren't immediately returned.
SCHOOL SHOOTING-GUNMAN'S RECORDS
Order sought for Newtown gunman's school records
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut's attorney general wants a judge to order Newtown school officials to release the records of the gunman who killed 26 people at an elementary school, including 20 first-grade students.
Attorney General George Jepsen wants Adam Lanza's school records to be released to the state child advocate office so its Child Fatality Review Panel can examine the Dec. 14 attack. The panel reviews unexpected and unexplained child fatalities.
The 20-year-old Lanza killed his mother at their home, then killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School before killing himself as police officers arrived.
The Child Advocate's office first sought Lanza's school records in March, but Newtown school officials have not released the information.
District officials did not immediately return a phone message left Saturday.
DC zoo will try again for exam of baby panda
WASHINGTON (AP) — A team of panda caretakers at Washington's National Zoo will have to wait at least one more day to get the first close look at a day-old panda cub during an exam.
The minutes-long health assessment was planned for Saturday, but panda mom Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) didn't give keepers an opportunity to take her cub, which is about the size of a stick of butter. Zookeepers will try again Sunday. During the exam, they'll try to listen to the cub's heart and lungs, record its weight and collect a DNA sample.
The cub born Friday evening is Mei Xiang's third, but the cub she gave birth to last year died after living just a week. Before that, her last cub was born in 2005.
Zookeepers plan to be more hands-on with this cub after last year's death.
NEW: NJ man claims share of $448M Powerball jackpot
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Lottery officials say a New Jersey man has claimed the final share of this month's $448 million Powerball jackpot.
Mario Scarnici held one of the three winning tickets sold for the Aug. 7 drawing. Lottery officials say the South Brunswick man chose the cash option and will get about $62 million after taxes.
Scarnici bought his winning ticket at a South Brunswick supermarket.
Lottery officials said Scarnici recently claimed his prize, but further details were not disclosed. A telephone number for Scarnici could not be located Saturday afternoon.
Another winning ticket for the drawing was held by a group of 16 Ocean County vehicle maintenance employees, while the third was held by a suburban Minneapolis man.
UPDATE: California beats Connecticut 12-1 at LLWS
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Nick Mora allowed just two hits and smacked a three-run homer for Chula Vista, Calif., which routed Westport, Conn., 12-1 on Saturday in the U.S. title game and advanced to the championship of the Little League World Series.
California will play Japan for the World Series title on Sunday. Japan beat Mexico 3-2 earlier Saturday on Takuma Gomi's leadoff home run in the top of the sixth inning.
California took a 6-1 lead in the first two innings, scoring three times in the first with the help of three Connecticut errors and getting three more on Mora's long home run.
The West champions added six more runs in the sixth on a passed ball, a wild pitch, an error, an RBI single by Mora, and a two-run double by Michael Gaines.
Chula Vista's victory came 50 years to the day that California defeated Connecticut 2-1 for the 1963 Little League World Series title.