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New gas attacks in Syria?

BEIRUT — Syrian government forces have attacked rebel-held areas with poisonous chlorine gas in recent weeks and months, leaving men, women and children coughing, choking and gasping for breath, according to Associated Press interviews with more than a dozen activists, medics and residents on the opposition side.

In Asia, Obama reaffirms alliance with Japan

TOKYO — Declaring that “the United States is and always will be a Pacific nation,” President Barack Obama launched an Asia tour designed to assure leaders of ally nations that they have a strong U.S. backup at a time of rising regional tension.

Potential for heart attack, stroke risk seen with marijuana use

Over a five-year period, a government-mandated tracking system in France showed that physicians in that country treated 1,979 patients for serious health problems associated with the use of marijuana, and nearly 2 percent of those encounters were with patients suffering from cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, cardiac arrhythmia and stroke, and circulation problems in the arms and legs. In roughly a quarter of those cases, the study found, the patient died.

Material on Australian shore not from Malaysia jet

CANBERRA, Australia — Australian officials said Thursday that after examining detailed photographs of unidentified material that washed ashore in the southwestern part of the country they are satisfied it is not a clue in the search for the missing Malaysian plane.

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US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10-plus years

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is encouraging many nonviolent federal prisoners to apply for early release — and expecting thousands to take up the offer. It’s an effort to deal with high costs and overcrowding in prisons, and also a matter of fairness, the government says.

Justices: Michigan affirmative ban is OK

WASHINGTON — A state’s voters are free to outlaw the use of race as a factor in college admissions, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a blow to affirmative action that also laid bare tensions among the justices about a continuing need for programs that address racial inequality in America.