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10 things you need to know today: September 4, 2013
Ariel Castro is found dead in prison, senators propose a deadline for a Syria strike, and more
Ariel Castro's May 9 booking photo. The convicted Cleveland kidnapper was found dead in his cell last night.
Ariel Castro's May 9 booking photo. The convicted Cleveland kidnapper was found dead in his cell last night. Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office/Handout via Reuters

1. Ariel Castro found dead in prison
Ariel Castro, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole last month for kidnapping and raping three Cleveland women he held captive for a decade, was found hanging in his cell late Tuesday. Castro's death comes four months after neighbors heard one of Castro's victims, Amanda Berry, call for help, and kicked in the door of Castro's house. Officials are investigating how Castro managed to hang himself while under watch in protective custody. [CNN]
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2. Senators propose limiting a Syria strike to 90 days
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hammered out a compromise proposal on Tuesday that would give President Obama a 60-day deadline for a military strike against Syria, with a possible 30-day extension. The resolution, like one in the House, would also bar the U.S. from sending ground troops. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said the deal would authorize a strike to punish Syria for using chemical weapons, while limiting U.S. involvement. [USA Today]
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3. Rebels say Syrian army is hiding among civilians
Syrian opposition leaders say the government in Damascus is moving military hardware and troops into civilian areas to shelter them from an expected U.S. attack. With a strike delayed as President Obama seeks congressional approval, the Syrian army has had time to clear out of many potential targets. [Associated Press]
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4. Benghazi report finds decades-old State Department security flaws
State Department officials knew for decades that inadequate security left high-risk U.S. diplomatic posts vulnerable to attack, according to an internal government report obtained by Al Jazeera America. The report said the failure to correct the problems, such as an unclear security command structure, were a factor in the 2012 attack on two U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. [Al Jazeera America]
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5. Crews gain control of Yosemite fire
Firefighters gained ground against the Rim Fire in and around Yosemite National Park on Tuesday. The fire, now the largest ever recorded in Yosemite, was 80 percent contained, up from just 45 percent on Sunday. Authorities lifted evacuation orders for several communities that had been threatened. Investigators are looking into what caused the blaze. One local fire chief suggested marijuana growers might be to blame. [Mercury News]
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6. Obama heads to G20 summit
President Obama begins a high-stakes trip to Sweden and Russia on Wednesday as he seeks broader support for a military strike against Syria over its alleged chemical weapons use. Obama arrives in St. Petersburg on Thursday for the G20 summit, where his expected attempt to rally world leaders behind him is likely to overshadow the meeting's economic agenda, and put him at odds with summit host Vladimir Putin, a key ally of the Syrian regime. [Washington Post]
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7. Earthquake rattles Tokyo
A 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck southern Japan on Wednesday. There were no immediate reports of damage, and authorities did not issue a tsunami warning. The quake was strong enough to shake buildings in Tokyo, 360 miles away from the epicenter. Earthquakes are common in Japan, which reports 20 percent of the world's temblors of magnitude 6 or stronger. [Reuters]
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8. Texas says it won't process same-sex couples' benefits requests
The Texas National Guard said Tuesday it would not comply with a Pentagon order to process same-sex couples' applications for benefits because the state's constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Maj. Gen. John Nichols, the commanding general of Texas Military Forces, wrote a letter to service members telling them that they would have to apply at a federal military base rather than a state National Guard office. [Associated Press]
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9. Jon Stewart returns to The Daily Show
Jon Stewart returned to The Daily Show on Comedy Central Tuesday night after a summer-long hiatus. John Oliver, who filled in while Stewart was away, updated him on the news he missed, including New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner's sexting alter-ego "Carlos Danger" and Miley Cyrus' twerking. Stewart even got laughs over Syria. "America taking military action against a Middle East regime," he said. "It's like I never left." [Politico]
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10. HBO announces True Blood's final season
Sorry, True Blood fans. HBO announced Tuesday that the steamy vampire drama will end its run in 2014 after its seventh season. The series, based on the books by Charlaine Harris and starring Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse, has been a blockbuster for HBO, but critics have questioned its staying power. The season six finale, which aired two weeks ago, attracted 4.1 million viewers, down from 5 million the previous season. [New York Daily News]

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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