UPDATE: Senate committee could vote on Syria resolution
WASHINGTON (AP) —The Senate Foreign Relations Committee could vote today on authorizing the use of force against the Syrian regime for last month's alleged chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians.
The committee's top members drafted a resolution late Tuesday that would permit President Barack Obama to order a "limited and tailored" military mission against Syria, as long as it doesn't exceed 90 days and involve American troops on the ground for combat operations.
NEW: French parliament to debate Syria strikes
PARIS (AP) — The French government says punitive action against Syria in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons would "balance" a situation that has seen gains for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
A French government spokeswoman says the international community has an obligation after the Aug. 21 attack that the U.S. says killed 1,429 people. France, like the U.S., blames Assad.
French lawmakers will debate today the response to alleged chemical attacks. Unlike President Barack Obama, the French president doesn't need a vote and he has a solid majority.
UPDATE: AP Interview: Putin warns West on Syria action
NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia (AP) — President Vladimir Putin is warning the West against taking one-sided action in Syria.
But in an interview with The Associated Press, Putin also says Russia "doesn't exclude" supporting a U.N. resolution on punitive military strikes if it is proved that Damascus used poison gas on its own people.
MISSING WOMEN FOUND-SUICIDE
Ohio man who held 3 women captive found dead
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ariel Castro, the man who held three women captive in his Cleveland home for around a decade, has committed suicide.
The 53-year-old Castro had just begun serving his life plus 1,000-year sentence after pleading guilty to charges.
Ohio corrections officials say Castro was not under suicide watch, but was being held in protective custody.
Evacuation orders lifted at Yosemite fire
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — Several communities near a raging wildfire in and around Yosemite National Park in California are being allowed to return home.
Higher humidity and lower temperatures have allowed firefighters to bring the blaze under 80 percent containment.
Officials say the fire destroyed more than 100 structures, including homes, and more than 4,300 firefighters are still battling the blaze.
Group sees US rise in global competitiveness
GENEVA (AP) — An annual economic survey finds the United States' competitiveness rising again after four years of decline, in a turnaround that reflects a rebounding confidence in its financial market and politicians.
The Geneva-based World Economic Forum says the world's largest economy saw its overall competitiveness rise to fifth place, up from seventh.
Germany was at fourth place, up from sixth. In the lead on the top 10 board were Switzerland, No. 1, followed by Singapore, then Finland, all three unchanged from last year.
Hong Kong moved up to seventh and Japan advanced to ninth. But Sweden dropped to sixth, while the Netherlands sank to eighth, and the U.K. moved down to 10th, reflecting what the Forum on Wednesday called a Europe distracted by public debt and concerns about the Eurozone's solidarity.
6.5 magnitude quake off Alaska's Aleutian Islands
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A magnitude 6.5 earthquake has been recorded in waters off Alaska's remote Aleutian Island region, where a 7.0 quake hit just last week.
The Alaska Tsunami Warning Center says there is no danger of a tsunami from Tuesday afternoon's quake.
The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake was centered about 50 miles south-southwest of the tiny community of Atka, Alaska. Scientists say earthquakes are very common in the area.
Dozens of aftershocks have been recorded since Friday's big quake.
There have been no reports of damage or injuries.
Strong quake shakes Tokyo area; no damage seen
TOKYO (AP) — A strong earthquake has shaken the Tokyo area and eastern Japan, though no injuries or damage was immediately reported.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake early Wednesday registered a magnitude of 6.9 but was centered offshore near Torishima, part of the Izu Islands about 600 kilometers (370 miles) south of Tokyo.
Despite the remoteness of the epicenter, tremors were felt from the north of the main island of Honshu to the west. In Tokyo, buildings swayed for several moments.
The national broadcaster NHK said some train lines stopped briefly for safety checks as a precaution. No tsunami alert was issued.
The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at 6.5 magnitude and said it was 404 kilometers (251 miles) deep.
NEW: Pa. same-sex marriage license case heads to court
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A State court in Harrisburg, Pa., will hear arguments today in a lawsuit against a suburban Philadelphia court clerk who's been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the state not having a same-sex marriage law.
Gov. Tom Corbett's Health Department filed the suit against Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes.
Putin offers assurances on gay rights at Olympics
NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to ease concerns that his country's new anti-gay law would be used to punish athletes who display rainbow flags during the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
And he insists that gays are not discriminated against in his country. Putin says, "I assure you that I work with these people, I sometimes award them with state prizes or decorations for their achievements in various fields."
Putin also says Russians love the composer Tchaikovsky, who was said to have been gay.