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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

Putin hails Syria's action on chemical weapons ban

Friday, 13 September 2013 02:44 Published in National News

   BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — Russia's President Vladimir Putin says that Syria's move to join an international convention banning chemical weapons has proven its good faith.

   Speaking at a summit of an international security grouping dominated by Russia and China, Putin said Friday the move showed that Syria has "serious intentions to embark on that path."

   Syria made a formal bid Thursday to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. The U.N. welcomed the move, but said that it could take 30 days for Syria to become a member.

   Russia proposed on Monday that Syria surrenders control over its chemical weapons to the international community for its eventual dismantling to avoid a U.S. military strike, and Damascus quickly jumped at the offer. Top U.S. and Russian diplomats are holding talks in Geneva to discuss the plan's specifics.

   WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S Solicitor General Donald Verrilli says employer challenges to the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act will likely be decided in the Supreme Court term that begins next month.

   Dozens of employers have said that providing contraceptive coverage would violate their religious beliefs.

   In a panel discussion Thursday, Verrilli predicted that the case could hinge on the justices' interpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. He said the federal law declares that "government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion unless the government has a compelling interest, and the burden imposed is the least restrictive means of achieving that interest."

   Verilli says at issue is whether corporations have religious rights, whether the burden on them is substantial, whether government has a compelling interest in making contraceptives available, and whether the mandate is the least restrictive means of doing so.

   Lower courts have issued conflicting rulings, with some blocking enforcement of the mandate until the issues are decided.

Metro-east drivers face nine day highway closure

Friday, 13 September 2013 01:39 Published in Local News

   The next phase of work on the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge will require a heavily traveled interstate to be shut down for more than a week.  

   At 9 p.m. Friday, Illinois transportation crews plan to close eastbound I-64 from the I-55/70 split to 18th Street.  It's expected to remain closed until 9 a.m. on Monday, September 23rd.  

   IDOT officials say the closure is necessary so that crews can build ramps to the new bridge, and drivers should expect long delays until the work is done.   

   The primary detour is eastbound on I-55/70 to I-255 south, which will add five-to-ten minutes during off-peak hours.  Drivers who can avoid the area over the next nine days are advised to do so.

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