(Aug. 21) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day - Today's Headlines - Explorer

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(Aug. 21) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day

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1. SYRIAN OPPOSITION SAYS THE MILITARY KILLED HUNDREDS WITH POISON GAS

Activists in Syria accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of carrying out a nerve gas attack that killed at least 213 people. Some estimates put the death toll close to 800. If confirmed, it would be the deadliest use of chemical weapons in the country's two-year civil war. The government, however, denied on state television that it had used poison gas, saying rebels were spreading false reports to mislead United Nations inspectors who arrived three days ago to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use. [Reuters, USA Today]

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2. CRUZ HELPS LAUNCH BID TO DEFUND OBAMACARE

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Tuesday night helped Heritage Action kick off a last-ditch effort to muster support to defund ObamaCare. "This is a fight we can win," he said at a rally in Dallas. Heritage Action wants Republicans to block key components of President Obama's health-care law by refusing to include it in a new spending resolution when the current one expires next month. That could lead to a government shutdown — something mainstream Republicans want to avoid. [New York Times]

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3. JAPAN RAISES ALERT LEVEL AT FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR PLANT

Japanese nuclear regulators on Wednesday upgraded the severity of the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant to the highest level of alert since three of the facility's reactors melted down after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Authorities said they feared the crippled facility's storage tanks were leaking more water with dangerously high radiation levels than previously thought, and that the crisis was more than the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., could handle. [Reuters]

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4. TEENS ACCUSED OF SHOOTING BASEBALL PLAYER

Oklahoma prosecutors on Tuesday charged two teenagers in the murder of an Australian college baseball player, Christopher Lane. A third youth was charged as an accessory in the case. Duncan, Okla., Police Chief Dan Ford said one of the defendants, a 17-year-old, told investigators that he and two friends first saw Lane when he passed them on a jog, and that they decided to shoot him "for the fun of it," because they were bored. [USA Today]

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5. GUNMAN SURRENDERS AT ATLANTA-AREA SCHOOL

A gunman terrorized a Decatur, Ga., elementary school on Tuesday, barricading himself in an office with hostages and firing an assault-style rifle at police before being captured. No injuries were reported. A school clerk said she managed to persuade the suspect — identified by police as Michael Brandon Hill, 20 — to put down his gun, empty his pockets, and lie down on the floor in surrender. [ABC News]

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6. KIDNAPPER'S FAMILY REQUESTS HANNAH ANDERSON'S DNA FOR PATERNITY TEST

Relatives of the late James DiMaggio are asking Hannah Anderson, the California teen he allegedly kidnapped, for a DNA sample to see whether he was her biological father. DiMaggio left $112,000 in life insurance money to Hannah's grandmother to care for her and her brother, Ethan, who was found dead along with his mother in DiMaggio's burned home. "We think it's strange he left them so much money with no explanation." a DiMaggio family spokesman said. [Fox News]

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7. MANNING FACES SENTENCING IN WIKILEAKS CASE

A military judge plans to sentence Pfc. Bradley Manning on Wednesday for providing more than 700,000 secret U.S. documents to WikiLeaks. Manning, 25, was convicted in July for what amounted to the biggest security leak in American history. The sentencing hearing, which begins at 10 a.m., is expected to be brief. The judge isn't required to explain it, and Manning, who apologized in court last week, isn't expected to speak. The sentence will automatically go to an appeals court. [New York Times]

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8. COST OF BATTLING SUMMER FIRES EXCEEDS $1 BILLION

With more than 40 uncontained wildfires raging across the West, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise has raised the national wildfire preparedness level to the highest level for the first time in five years. The top priorities this week are two central Idaho wildfires. One, the Beaver Creek Fire, has forced the evacuation of 1,250 homes in the resort area of Ketchum and Sun Valley. The total cost of battling this year's fires nationwide has climbed to over $1 billion. [Associated Press]

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9. OBAMA HONORS 1972 DOLPHINS FOR PERFECT SEASON

President Obama honored the members of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins on Tuesday, saying the salute was long overdue. The team, whose achievement no other professional football team has matched, didn't get a White House ceremony after winning the Super Bowl to cap their perfect season. Saluting athletes was not an established tradition back then, and Richard Nixon's White House was preoccupied with the Watergate scandal. [Associated Press]

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10. DEMPSTER SUSPENDED FOR BEANING A-ROD

Major League Baseball on Tuesday suspended Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster for five games and fined him $2,500 for allegedly intentionally hitting New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez on the elbow with a fastball on Sunday. Dempster said he wouldn't challenge the suspension, but denied throwing at Rodriguez on purpose over his appeal of a 211-game suspension for allegedly taking performance-enhancing drugs. The Yankees complained that Dempster's penalty was too lenient. [Boston Globe]

Compiled by theweek.com

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