News around the world

France urges Mideast talks

UNITED NATIONS — French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed a one-year timetable Wednesday for Israel and the Palestinians to reach a peace accord, part of a concerted push with the United States for the Palestinian leaders to abandon an application for U.N. membership.

Sarkozy spoke at the General Assembly shortly after President Barack Obama warned there could be no “shortcut” to peace and that negotiations, not U.N. declarations, were essential to a lasting peace.

Syrian security storms school

BEIRUT — Syrian security forces moved against several schools around the country Wednesday and detained students who demonstrated against President Bashar Assad’s regime, while troops shot dead at least four people in central Syria, activists said.

The Local Coordination Committees, an activist network, said dozens of students were detained in the southern village of Jassem. Also, security forces surrounded several schools in the Damascus suburbs of Harasta, Arbeen and Zamalka.

Students have been demonstrating against Assad’s regime since Sunday, the first day of the school year.

Mexican gunmen dump 35 bodies

MEXICO CITY — Suspected drug traffickers dumped 35 bodies at rush hour beneath a busy overpass in the heart of a major Gulf coast city as gunmen pointed weapons at frightened drivers. Mexican authorities said they are examining surveillance video for clues to who committed the crime.

Horrified motorists grabbed cell phones and sent Twitter messages warning others to avoid the area near the biggest shopping mall in Boca del Rio, part of the metropolitan area of Veracruz city.

The gruesome gesture marked a sharp escalation in cartel violence in Veracruz state, which sits on an important route for drugs and Central American migrants heading north.

Salazar: Solar push will continue

WASHINGTON — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the Obama administration will continue its push for solar energy despite growing controversy over a $500 million loan to a now-bankrupt California solar panel maker.

Salazar said he thinks the future for solar energy is bright. In an Associated Press interview, he said the Solyndra Inc. case and a delay in the massive Blythe solar project in California illustrate the challenges facing the solar industry.

He cited fierce competition from China and changes in technology as key risks.

House chair: Cuts could mean draft

WASHINGTON — The House Armed Services Committee chairman is warning that further reductions to projected defense spending could make a military career so unattractive that it would force the Pentagon to revive the draft.

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., suggested that spending cuts beyond the $350

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billion that President Barack Obama and Congress agreed to in the debt accord this past summer could force the military to slash the number of service members, now some 2.3 million, including National Guard and reserves.

A special bipartisan committee is trying to come up with $1.5 trillion in spending cuts from all government spending. If it fails, or if Congress rejects its proposal, automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion would kick in, with half coming from defense.

House disaster vote sets up showdown 

WASHINGTON — The No. 2 Republican in the House said Wednesday the GOP-controlled House remains on track to pass $3.7 billion in disaster relief as part of a must-pass bill to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month, but first the party must overcome opposition from Democrats and some tea party Republicans.

Democratic leaders — including some who said last week they would back the stopgap measure — came out solidly against it Wednesday morning because it contains $1.5 billion in cuts from a government loan program to help car companies build more fuel-efficient vehicles. That money would pay for the most urgently needed portion of the disaster aid that’s required to avoid a cutoff next week of Federal Emergency Management Agency relief to victims of Hurricane Irene, recent Texas wildfires and Tropical Storm Lee.

Young adults get health coverage

WASHINGTON — Two new surveys find a big drop in the number of young adults without health insurance since last year — and President Barack Obama’s overhaul is getting credit instead of criticism.

A government health statistics survey released Wednesday finds nearly 1 million more adults ages 19-25 gained insurance in the first three months of this year. Separately, a Gallup survey reports that the share of adults 18-25 without coverage dropped from 28 percent last fall to 24.2 percent by this summer.

The health care law allows adult children to stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26.

Romney slams Perry on Social Security

MIAMI — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is raising new questions in Florida about his rival Rick Perry’s position on Social Security.

Romney said at a Miami town hall-style meeting that Perry’s proposal to have states run the retirement system won’t work. Romney asks what would happen if some states chose not to create a Social Security plan, and what would happen if people move from one state to another with a different system.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, says he wants to keep Social Security intact at the federal level and make changes to keep it financially healthy in the future.

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