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10 things you need to know today: August 31, 2013
The White House makes its case for striking Syria, al Qaeda claims credit for violent attacks in Iraq, and more
 
Kerry spoke Friday on the crisis in Syria.
Kerry spoke Friday on the crisis in Syria. Alex Wong/Getty Images

1. Kerry says U.S. has "high confidence" Syria used chemical weapons
Secretary of State John Kerry called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a "murderer and a thug" and claimed that U.S. intelligence had "high confidence" that Assad's regime launched last week's chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb that killed 1,429 people. Kerry said that any action President Barack Obama "might decide to take" would be "limited" and "not involve any boots on the ground." [NBC News]
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2. Bombs kill 14 as wave of violence continues in Iraq
Bombs killed 14 people in the Kurdish neighborhood of Tuz Khormato, a town located 130 miles north of Baghdad, where a week earlier 82 people died in a coordinated wave of attacks. An al Qaeda-affiliated group claimed responsibility for the violence. More than 570 people have been killed in Iraq during August. [Associated Press]
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3. Wages drop and consumer spending stalls in July
In a bad sign for the economic recovery, consumer spending in the United States grew only 0.1 percent in July, down significantly from growth of 0.6 percent in June. Part of the blame has been put on budget cuts that forced hundreds of thousands of government workers to take furloughs, causing a 0.3 percent drop in wages and salaries. [Wall Street Journal]
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4. Rwanda accuses Congo of rocket attacks
The Rwandan government accused soldiers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo of launching bombs and rockets into its territory, which it warned could lead to an all-out war. The U.N. has backed Congo's fight against the M23 rebel group, which has allegedly been receiving arms from Rwanda. [The Guardian]
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5. Large earthquake rocks Alaska
A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit off the shore of the Alaskan island of Adak on Friday. No tsunami was detected and residents of the island, which is home to two volcanoes, reported no damage to any structures. [Reuters]
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6. Muslim Brotherhood supporters protest across Egypt
Tens of thousands of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and deposed President Mohamed Morsi rallied across Egypt on Friday. More than 1,000 people have died since the military-led government of Egypt began cracking down on pro-Morsi protesters two weeks ago. [Associated Press]
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7. Neo-Nazi tries to turn North Dakota town into white supremacist colony
Craig Cobb, 61, has raised controversy by buying 24 pieces of property in the town of Leith, N.D., with the intention of turning it into a white supremacist colony. Leith's 16 existing residents have threatened to disband the town's government if Cobb attracts too many neo-Nazis. [New York Times]
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8. Texas Democrat Wendy Davis has raised $1.2 million since epic filibuster
Wendy Davis, the Democratic Texas state senator who became famous for filibustering an abortion bill for 13 straight hours, has raised $1.2 million in only six weeks. The average donation to her campaign was $52, according to recently filed campaign finance reports, which listed 24,000 individual donors. [Politico]
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9. Apple launches trade-in program before likely release of new iPhone
With a new announcement slated for Sept. 10, widely expected to be the unveiling of the newest iPhone, Apple announced that its retail stores would start accepting old iPhones in exchange for credit towards the purchase of a new one. Rumors have emerged that Apple will release both a high-end sequel to the iPhone 5 and a lower-cost alternative. [CNET]
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10. NBA player Lamar Odom arrested on suspicion of DUI
NBA veteran Lamar Odom, who most recently played for the Los Angeles Clippers, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and spent three-and-a-half hours in jail. Odom made headlines earlier this week after rumors that his wife, TV personality Khloe Kardashian Odom, couldn't find him because he was on a drug binge, which Odom's agent denied. [Los Angeles Times]

 
Keith Wagstaff is a staff writer at TheWeek.com covering politics and current events. He has previously written for such publications as TIME, Details, VICE, and the Village Voice.

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