Today’s Top World News from The Washington Post

Today’s Top World News from The Washington Post


- Damascus residents prepare for U.S.-led strike-- Residents of Damascus shuttered themselves inside their homes, military buildings were evacuated, and soldiers packed up checkpoints on Wednesday as the Syrian capital anxiously awaited a U.S.-led military strike. While potential options for military intervention were debated in the West, Damascenes did what little they could to prepare. The streets of the city were unusually quiet as residents said many had taken the day off work or joined thousands who have fled for neighboring Lebanon. Some ventured out to join breadlines, which stretched even longer than usual as residents stocked up. The Syrian government, too, appeared to be doing what it could to ready itself. The army’s headquarters on Umayyad Square, the target of a double bombing last year, was at least partially evacuated, as were intelligence buildings, according to rebels and activists, who cited unusual movement and “intelligence” suggesting that senior officials had been told to head to alternative gathering points, report Loveday Morris and Ahmed Ramadan:


- Western powers face widespread skepticism over military strike on Syria-- As Western powers build their case for possible military strikes in Syria, a still-forming coalition on Wednesday confronted a chorus of resistance at home, throwing up possible delays for what initially seemed like a rapid timetable for action. In Britain, Washington’s staunchest military ally, the ghost of faulty intelligence used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq hung over Prime Minister David Cameron’s push to punish the government of President Bashar al-Assad after last week’s alleged chemical attack near Damascus. Cameron’s government presented a draft resolution at the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday seeking to authorize “all necessary measures” to protect Syrian civilians, after Foreign Secretary William Hague said the world had to act even if the United Nations didn’t, reports Anthony Faiola:


- Detained U.S.-British couple shown on Chinese television in handcuffs-- A British man and his American wife, detained last month for allegedly selling foreign companies private information about Chinese citizens, were shown on state television Tuesday in orange prison tunics, offering a confession and an apology. “We obtained personal information, sometimes through illegal ways,” Peter Humphrey, 57, said in Chinese, sitting with his handcuffed hands just below his chin. “I am very regretful for this, and would like to apologize to the Chinese government.” The humiliating footage was the latest salvo against foreign business practices in China, which has cracked down this year on issues ranging from food safety to price fixing and poor customer service, reports Simon Denyer:





- In march speech, Obama celebrates work of anonymous foot soldiers-- As Barack Obama began to speak at the steps of the distant Lincoln Memorial, Brie O’Neal turned up the volume on her small Toshiba radio. Soon she was sharing it with a dozen racially diverse strangers, all crowding around to hear a bit of history they would have otherwise missed. The relic of O’Neal’s radio carried the generation-spanning message Obama sought to deliver on the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s demand for racial equality. But in this distant area of the Mall, where those without tickets huddled in the rain, O’Neal and others also heard their own messages — of hope, of celebration, of frustration — based on their expectations and experience, reports Scott Wilson:


- States find new ways to resist health law-- Several Republican-led states at the forefront of the campaign to undermine President Obama’s health-care law have come up with new ways to try to thwart it, refusing to enforce consumer protections, for example, and restricting federally funded workers hired to help people enroll in coverage. And in at least one state, Missouri, local officials have been barred from doing anything to help put the law into place. The actions have drawn less attention than congressional efforts to cut off funding for the law, or earlier state decisions to refuse to set up online insurance marketplaces or reject an expansion of Medicaid, which sharply limited the law’s reach. But the moves could impede Obama’s most significant domestic accomplishment, which, despite having withstood a Supreme Court challenge and a presidential election, still faces doubts about its viability, reports Sandhya Somashekhar:


- Republicans absent from March on Washington-- Not a single Republican elected official stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday with activists, actors, lawmakers and former presidents invited to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington — a notable absence for a party seeking to attract the support of minority voters. Event organizers said Wednesday that they invited top Republicans, all of whom declined to attend because of scheduling conflicts or ill health. But aides to some GOP congressional leaders said they received formal invitations only in recent weeks, making it too late to alter their summer recess schedules. The Rev. Leah D. Daughtry of the House of the Lord Church in the District, who served as executive producer of the commemoration, said the organizing committee began sending invitations to top leaders of both parties “on a rolling basis probably four or five weeks ago,” reports Ed O’Keefe:


- IRS official who scrutinized conservative groups facing harassment, attorney says-- A top Internal Revenue Service official has faced harassment, including threatening telephone calls and visits to her home, after being singled out for criticism by Republicans, her lawyer alleges in a letter to lawmakers. The official, Holly Paz, has been on administrative leave since June in connection with the controversy over how the IRS scrutinized conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. Paz was involved in subjecting some tea party groups to scrutiny and helped conduct an internal review of the program, but has not been formally accused of wrongdoing, reports Juliet Eilperin:


- Post Politics: Obama says a U.S. strike on Syria would send 'strong signal'-- President Obama warned Wednesday that a potential U.S. military strike on Syria’s ruling regime in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack on its own people would send “a pretty strong signal that they better not do it again.” In an interview with PBS’s “NewsHour” at the White House after speaking at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Obama confirmed that his administration has concluded that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons on a recent attack that killed scores of civilians. But the president emphasized that he has yet to make a decision about whether the U.S. response will include military strikes that his administration is reportedly weighing on Syrian government and military targets, reports David Nakamura:



- Fifty years after March on Washington, economic gap between blacks, whites persists-- Even as racial barriers have tumbled and the nation has grown wealthier and better educated, the economic disparities separating blacks and whites remain as wide as they were when marchers assembled on the Mall in 1963. When it comes to household income and wealth, the gaps between blacks and whites have widened. On other measures, the gaps are roughly the same as they were four decades ago. The poverty rate for blacks, for instance, continues to be about three times that of whites, reports Michael A, Fletcher:


- The House GOP is bracing for debt-limit battle and likely to target Obamacare first-- House Speaker John A. Boehner is promising a “whale of a fight” this fall. But a fight over what? That is the $16.7 trillion question as Congress barrels toward another showdown over the federal debt limit. House Republicans are trying to figure out how to finesse the deadlines looming after lawmakers return to Washington on Sept. 9. Unless Congress acts, the federal government will shut down on Oct. 1 and, according to the Obama administration, the nation will run out of cash to pay its bills in mid-October, reports Lori Montgomery:


- How the Syrian Electronic Army and other hacker groups are attacking news Web sites-- The hack of the New York Times’ Web operations this week has drawn renewed attention to a cyberattack that takes aim at a core function of the Internet: the Web address. The attack, for which a group called the Syrian Electronic Army asserted responsibility, worked by kidnapping the news organization’s Web address — — and redirecting anyone who tried to go to that site to another part of the Internet. The intrusion, known as a Domain Name System attack, proved highly effective, limiting access to the Times’ news pages on the Internet for nearly 48 hours. Wednesday night, some readers still could not access the site. The cyberattacks were among the more sophisticated in a recent series of assaults on high-profile Western media organizations, including The Washington Post and the Associated Press. The Syrian Electronic Army has used these intrusions to broadcast its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, although the group has never been found to have any official ties to his regime, report Hayley Tsukayama and Timothy B. Lee:



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