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AFGHANISTAN

Car bomb attack in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan governor says militants have detonated a car bomb around 60 meters away from a U.S. diplomatic outpost in the western city of Herat, wounding seven civilians.

A gunbattle between militants and security forces in the area was still going on Friday morning.

Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi, the governor of Herat province, says it’s unclear if any of the militants managed to get inside the compound.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but Taliban insurgents have often used combined car bomb and gun assaults against various targets in Afghanistan.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman in Kabul declined immediate comment.

BOARDWALK FIRE

UPDATED: Raging fire strikes at heart of Sandy-hit NJ town

SEASIDE PARK, N.J. (AP) — Authorities have finally been able to declare a raging fire under control on a boardwalk along the shore New Jersey shore. Public works crews halted the spread of the fire Thursday night by ripping out boards that had yet to burn.

The wind-whipped fire devoured eight blocks of boardwalk — four each in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights — and destroyed dozens of boardwalk businesses and caused millions in damages.

The Hail Mary effort to save the remainder of the boardwalk began in the evening when workers ripped out a 25-foot swath of boardwalk to serve as a makeshift fire break, depriving the blaze of fuel. They then filled the void with giant sand piles — makeshift dunes that this time held back not water but fire.

SYRIA

Kerry takes hard line on Assad proposal

GENEVA (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry, joining Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Geneva for talks on Syria, has taken a hard line against a proposal by President Bashar Assad to spend 30 days reporting on his country’s chemical weapons stockpiles, laying out an inventory of weapons.

Kerry says Thursday that is an unreasonable delay in response to pressure on Assad to relinquish the weapons.

The talks in Switzerland have come toward the end of a week in which President Barack Obama repeated his threat to retaliate militarily against Assad for Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons in an attack on Aug. 21. But Obama also said in a primetime speech to the country Tuesday night that he was willing to explore the idea of Assad turning over the weapons to be dismantled, if such a step can be fully verified

COLORADO FLOODING

Colorado slammed by heavy rains, flooding

LYONS, Colo. (AP) — Boulder County appears to be the heaviest hit among areas in Colorado slammed by drenching rainstorms and floods.

Sheriff Joe Pelle says the town of Lyons was completely cut off because of flooded roads.

Three people have died in the storm, which careened down mountainsides and into small towns and communities, destroying homes, washing out roads and forcing the closure of the state’s largest university.

Three people have died in the storms, as 8 more inches fell today in an area spanning from the Wyoming border south to the foothills west of Denver.

Authorities say floodwaters poured into homes and at least a few buildings collapsed in the torrent.

At least one earthen dam gave way southeast of Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Water levels could rise downstream as authorities release more water to ease pressure on dams.

Rain showers and thunderstorms are expected through the night, and weather forecasters warn that some storms are capable of dumping an inch of water in 30 minutes.

SYRIA

Syria says it has signed treaty banning chemical weapons

GENEVA (AP) — The tension was high at the first day of discussions in Geneva on whether to accept Syrian President Bashar Assad’s plan to turn over his chemical weapons stocks.

The aim of the Russian initiative is to avert a military strike threatened against Syria by President Barack Obama in retaliation for Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against his own people on Aug. 21. Kerry rejected Assad’s pledge to offer an inventory or accounting of the weapons stockpile without immediately giving them up.

Meanwhile, in New York, Syria’s U.N. ambassador said that his country has become a full member of the treaty banning the use of chemical weapons.

Bashar Ja’afari told reporters he presented Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with “the instrument of accession” to the Chemical Weapons Convention in New York today .

TWITTER-IPO

Twitter Tweets It’ll Go Public

NEW YORK (AP) — Twitter has decided to go public. The company announced on its short messaging service this afternoon that it has filed documents for an initial public offering of stock.

The documents Twitter filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission are sealed, as Twitter is taking advantage of federal legislation passed last year that allows companies with less than $1 billion in revenue in its last fiscal year to avoid submitting public IPO documents.

The confidentiality will likely help Twitter avoid the public hoopla and intense scrutiny that surrounded the initial public offerings of other high-profile social networking companies, including Facebook Inc., which went public in May 2012.

The San Francisco-based company posted on its official Twitter account that it has “confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO.” A subsequent tweet said simply: “Now, back to work.” It’s accompanied by a blurry photo of the company’s offices.

GAY MARRIAGE-PENNSYLVANIA

Pa. judge orders end to same-sex marriage licenses

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania judge is stopping a suburban Philadelphia court clerk from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying it was a clear violation of his legal authority.

Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini issued an order that said Montgomery County Register of Wills Bruce Hanes didn’t have the power to decide on his own whether the same-sex marriage ban violates the state constitution.

Hanes issued four more licenses to same-sex couples on Wednesday, bringing the total number to 174.

The state Health Department took him to court after he began issuing them in July. That was after the U.S. Supreme Court threw out portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and state Attorney General Kathleen Kane called the Pennsylvania ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional

NY INTELLIGENCE-LAWSUIT

NEW: NYC claims Muslim surveillance warranted

NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer for the New York Police Department says authorities had legitimate reasons to put specific mosques and Muslim worshippers under surveillance as part of their counterterrorism efforts.

In a case in which the city is accused of religious profiling, attorney Peter Farrell argued that before the lawsuit goes forward, the city should be allowed to present evidence specific to the six plaintiffs that he said would prove police were acting with legitimate law enforcement purposes. He said that if the judge agrees, “then this case is over.”

An American Civil Liberties Union attorney, Hina Shamsi, countered that her clients already had sufficient legal standing to sue the city and that the NYPD should be ordered to begin turning over sensitive reports and documents detailing the alleged spying on Muslims.

ISRAEL-IRAN

Israel voices skepticism about new Iranian leader

VIENNA (AP) — Israel says Iran continues to seek nuclear arms under its new and more moderate president, voicing a harder line than the United States toward Iran at a U.N. nuclear agency meeting.

Israeli delegate Ehud Azoulay said Thursday that the change in Iran’s presidency does not mean a “change in their (nuclear) policy.”

On Tuesday, U.S. diplomat Joseph Macmanus reached out to Iran, urging it to follow up on the moderate tone of President Hasan Rouhani with actions to prove it is not interested in nuclear arms. At the same time, he indicated that the West will push to refer Tehran to the U.N. Security Council by November unless it cooperates with U.N. experts trying to probe to see if Iran worked on such weapons.

Iran denies wanting nuclear arms.

VATICAN-SEX ABUSE

Vatican says it’s cooperating with Dominican Probe

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican says it’s cooperating with prosecutors in the Dominican Republic who are investigating its ambassador for alleged sexual abuse of minors.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, denied the Vatican was trying to shield Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski by recalling him to Rome and relieving him of his job.

Wesolowski was recalled Aug. 21 after the archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez, told Pope Francis about the allegations. Prosecutors earlier this month announced they had opened an investigation as well.

In a statement Thursday to the ANSA news agency, Lombardi said: “The recall of the ambassador is by no means an effort to avoid taking responsibility for what might be verified.”

Dominican prosecutors have said they would seek Wesolowski’s extradition if the evidence warrants.

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