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BANGKOK (AP) — Oil prices, which have shot up in recent days over the threat of a U.S. strike against Syria, fell below $109 a barrel Tuesday after Damascus reacted favorably to a proposal to turn over its chemical weapons.
Benchmark oil for October delivery fell $1.16 per barrel to $108.36 at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.01 to close at $109.52 a barrel on the Nymex on Monday.
Oil prices have risen sharply in recent days following President Barack Obama's call for military action against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in retaliation for what the White House says was a chemical weapons attack against civilians.
But on Monday, there was reason to hope for a diplomatic solution when Syria's foreign minister welcomed a suggestion to move all the country's chemical weapons under international control. Analysts said it could also hurt Obama's attempts at gaining congressional support for military intervention.
"Backed by the U.N., Russia is arranging for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons to avert a confrontation," said Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank Ltd. in Singapore. "By deflecting the approaching strike, Russia has also created greater uncertainty in the U.S. Congress on the vote over Syria though the U.S. is still leaning towards a strike." Obama plans to address the nation from the White House on Tuesday about Syria.
Brent, the benchmark for international crudes, dropped $1.03 to $112.69 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline fell 2.8 cents to $2.774 per gallon.
— Natural gas rose 1 cent to $3.614 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil retreated 1.8 cents to $3.0999 per gallon.
MILTON, W.Va. (AP) — Who says superheroes aren't real?
When a West Virginia home caught fire, trapping a kitten inside, it was Batman and Captain America who came to the rescue.
John Buckland, dressed as Batman, and Troy Marcum, dressed as Captain America, saw smoke at a house nearby when they were entertaining children as part of their business. They ran to the house along with another bystander, kicked in the door and broke out a window so some smoke could escape.
Buckland, a former firefighter, says he crawled into the front room and felt something furry. He grabbed the animal, ran outside and gave it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
No one was hurt in the fire, including the rescuers — though Buckland says the cat hissed and swatted at him when it regained consciousness.
Seventeen East St. Louis firefighters will lose their jobs at the end of the month. The Belleville News-Democrat reports that City Manager Deletra Hudson sent a letter to the firefighters saying the city "has been forced to make some difficult financial decisions to meet its budgetary obligations."
The firefighters had been hired with federal grant money. When the grant ran out in March, East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks said the city found some extra money to keep the firefighters on the job until the end of September.
Parks told the paper that he expects eight of the laid off firefighters to be called back when the new city budget kicks in January 1st.
East St. Louis currently employs 54 firefighters.