News around the world

Army defectors aim to overthrow Syrian regime

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BEIRUT (AP) A group of military defectors known as the Free Syrian Army is emerging as the first armed challenge to President Bashar Assad’s authoritarian regime after seven months of largely nonviolent resistance.

Riad al-Asaad, the group’s leader and an air force colonel who recently fled to Turkey, boasted in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that he now has more than 10,000 members and called on fellow soldiers to join him in overthrowing the “murderous” regime.

While analysts said those numbers might be inflated, al-Asaad was confident more soldiers would soon join his ranks.

Records show Troy Davis’ final hours

ATLANTA (AP)  After a long day of emotional goodbyes, Troy Davis knelt in his prison cell and began to pray 15 minutes before he was scheduled to die.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press provide a glimpse into the last moments of Davis’ life before he was executed Sept. 21 for the murder of an off-duty Savannah officer. At one point, Davis vowed to fast and refused several prison meals, but as the night dragged on he asked for food. And as his 7 p.m. scheduled execution time came and went during a late appeal, guards caught Davis taking an hour-long nap.

Davis’ execution for the murder of Mark MacPhail was the center of an international outcry from supporters who said he was the victim of mistaken identity. Prosecutors and MacPhail’s family said they were certain Davis was guilty and that justice was served.

Perry raises $17 million,
Paul $8 million

WASHINGTON (AP) Republican Rick Perry raised more than $17 million in his first seven weeks running for president, a large haul that helps cement his status as the top alternative to rival Mitt Romney despite the Texas governor’s recent campaign struggles.

GOP opponent Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who is a favorite of libertarians, brought in $8 million and, in doing so, proved that he’s in the race for the long haul even though he hasn’t been able to break into the top tier of candidates in national polling.

No one is expected to approach President Barack Obama’s totals; his campaign and the Democratic National Committee have set a combined goal of $55 million for the quarter. A record-shattering fundraiser, Obama raised $750 million for the 2008 primary and general elections.

Sheriff: Missing boys

may have planned to run away

DENVER (AP) Two boys who disappeared in western Colorado three days ago may have been planning to run away, authorities said Wednesday.

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Christopher Ihinger, 12, and Danny Eberly, 14, vanished Sunday while one of the boys’ father and another man were rock climbing. The boys, who are from Telluride, accompanied the adults on the outing but did not go climbing.

A pickup belonging to the father was also missing.

The San Miguel County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that it had information indicating the two might have planned to run away, but did not elaborate. A spokeswoman didn’t immediately return calls from The Associated Press.

Authorities said the boys may have taken refuge in one of the many abandoned mines in the area.

Italian judge: Knox might
know ‘truth’ in case

ROME (AP) The Italian appeals court judge who was part of the jury that acquitted Amanda Knox said in a TV interview Wednesday night that the American and her ex-boyfriend might know the “real truth” about who killed her British roommate and could even be responsible.

In his first public comments since Knox and her Italian co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, were acquitted Monday night, Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann stressed on state TV that the acquittals “resulted from the truth that was created in the trial.”

“But the real truth could be different,” Hellmann added. “They could also be responsible but the proof isn’t there,” the judge said in his first public comments on the verdict. Under the Italian judicial system, the presiding judge, another judge and six civilians make up the jury.

“So, maybe they know, too, but as far as we (the jury) go, they didn’t,” he added.

Knox and Sollecito have vehemently denied wrongdoing in the 2007 stabbing death of Meredith Kercher. Knox flew home to Seattle on Tuesday, her first full day out of jail since she was arrested a few days after the murder.

Official: Lives saved in East Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) The head of the U.S. Agency for International Development says famine relief efforts in the Horn of Africa have saved countless lives.

USAID administrator Raj Shah said Wednesday that resources used in interventions to stop the famine spreading in the region have made an impact.

He said the relief efforts have mitigated the slide from drought to famine, which has killed 29,000 children in Somalia and in pastoral communities in Ethiopia and Kenya. Shah says the U.S. has contributed more than $600 million.

The drought and the famine it has caused in Somalia have affected more than 11.5 million people in the Horn of Africa and created a triangle of hunger where the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia meet.

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