From NPR News in Washington, I'm Lakshmi Singh.
Secretary of State John Kerry is accusing the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against rebel forces and destroying the evidence. Kerry's comments come as the Pentagon is drawing up plans to strike Syrian military targets. NPR's Tom Bowman has the latest.
Kerry called the use of chemical weapons a moral obscenity and said the US is working with its allies about how to respond.
"All people and all nations, who believe in the cause of our common humanity, must stand up to assure that there is accountability for the use of chemical weapons so that it never happens again."
Meanwhile, the US is preparing military options against Syria. The most likely option Pentagon officials say: cruise missiles fired from US Navy ships in the eastern Mediterranean. The targets could include military headquarters, command centers, as well as missile and rocket launch sites the US says were tied to the chemical munitions. Tom Bowman, NPR News, Washington.
Meanwhile, Russia's trying to wave off Western powers from the possibility of military action against their Syrian ally. Today Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that no one has concrete proof that Syria's military was responsible for a chemical weapons attack.
Burst of gunfire in the area during a Palestinian funeral procession in the West Bank today, people were mourning the deaths of three Palestinians who they say were killed by Israeli soldiers during clashes following an arrest raid at a refugee camp. This occurred hours before negotiators were scheduled to hold another round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Today President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to an American soldier who survived a deadly firefight in Afghanistan. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports Staff Sgt. Ty Carter is the fifth living Iraq or Afghanistan veteran to receive this award.
Four years ago at a remote US outpost in Afghanistan, more than 300 Taliban fighters attacked a small group of US soldiers. Staff Sgt. Ty Carter charged through the gunfire to drag foreign friends to safety. President Obama spoke at the White House.
"It was chaos -- a blizzard of bullets and steel into which Ty ran not once or twice, or even a few times, but perhaps ten time, and in doing so, he displayed the essence of true heroism."
Eight Americans were killed in the attack. Twenty-five were injured. Carter is the second soldier from this fight to receive the Medal of Honor. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, the White House.
San Francisco is racing to fill area reservoirs now that its water supply's threatened by wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park. Officials worried about ash from the 234-square-mile blaze. The Rim Fire is reported to be about 15% contained.
Before the closing bell, Dow was down 64 points at 14,947.
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Orders for durable goods, big-ticket items fell last month. NPR's Jeanine Herbst reports businesses pulled back on spending.
After three months of increases, the Commerce Department says durable goods fell 7.3% in July mostly because of a big drop in orders of commercial airplanes and military goods. But economist Scott Brown says ‘take the report with a grain of salt.'
"You tend to get a lot of volatility in orders. They tend to bunch up, particularly in the transportation sector. We saw very strong order results from Boeing in both May and June. So all we're really seeing here is a pullback from that strength."
Brown says it doesn't necessarily indicate things got weaker in July because durable goods are by nature volatile since businesses don't need to buy big-ticket items every month. Jeanine Herbst, NPR News, Washington.
A military jury has been hearing testimony today from family members and survivors of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting that claimed 13 lives and wounded more than 30 people. In the sentencing phase of Major Nidal Hasan's trial in Texas, one soldier testified that after suffering multiple gunshot wounds, his cognitive level is about that of a tenth- or eleventh-grader. Hasan could get the death penalty.
One of Indonesia's most influential Islamic groups wants the government to cancel the Miss World pageant scheduled next month. It's protesting the exposure of women's skin during the competition, which it says violates Muslim teachings. However, organizers say they've already made adjustments such as eliminating the pageant's bikini competition.
US stocks were mixed, before the close, with the Dow down 65 points, NASDAQ up slightly and the S&P 500 down slightly.
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