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In Brief | Nation & World 8-30-13

China urges US restraint in Syria over chemical weapons

BEIJING — As the United States moves toward intervention in Syria, China Thursday urged restraint, warning that military action would only exacerbate the turmoil in Syria.

China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, said a political solution was “the only realistic way out on the Syrian issue.”

Wang’s statement, posted on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, was accompanied by a chorus of harsher editorials in China’s state-controlled media, accusing Western powers of rushing to judgment and using chemical weapons as an excuse to cover up less righteous motives.

China has followed Russia’s lead in opposing growing international calls for action against Syria, especially after emerging evidence in recent days that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government deployed chemical weapons.

In his statement Thursday, Wang said China opposes the use of chemical weapons, but he argued that a U.N. team in Syria should be given more time to carry out chemical weapons inspections.

Court upholds ban on gay-to-straight therapy

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld the nation’s first-of-its-kind law in California prohibiting health practitioners from offering psychotherapy aimed at making gay youth straight.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the state’s ban on so-called conversion therapy for minors doesn’t violate the free speech rights of licensed counselors and patients seeking treatment.

The activities of pastors and lay counselors who are unlicensed but provide such therapy through church programs would not be covered under the law.

The court panel also upheld that California has the power to prohibit licensed mental health providers from administering therapies deemed harmful, and the fact that speech may be used to carry out those therapies does not turn such bans into prohibitions of speech.

The case before the appeals court was brought by professionals who practice sexual-orientation change therapy, two families who say their teenage sons benefited from it, and a national association of Christian mental health counselors. They argued the ban infringes on their free speech and freedom of association and religious rights. The counselors also argue it jeopardizes their livelihoods.

The law was supposed to take effect at the beginning of the year but was put on hold pending the 9th Circuit’s ruling. Thursday’s ruling reverses the injunction.

J&J puts warnings on Tylenol caps

WASHINGTON — Bottles of Tylenol sold in the U.S. will soon bear red warnings alerting users to the potentially fatal risks of taking too much of the popular pain reliever. The unusual step, disclosed by the company that makes Tylenol, comes amid a growing number of lawsuits and pressure from the federal government that could have widespread ramifications for a medicine taken by millions of people every day.

Johnson & Johnson says the warning will appear on the cap of new bottles of Extra Strength Tylenol sold in the U.S. starting in October and on most other Tylenol bottles in coming months. The warning will make it explicitly clear that the over-the-counter drug contains acetaminophen, a pain-relieving ingredient that’s the nation’s leading cause of sudden liver failure. The new cap message will read: “CONTAINS ACETAMINOPHEN” and “ALWAYS READ THE LABEL.”

Overdoses from acetaminophen send 55,000 to 80,000 people to the emergency room in the U.S. each year and kill at least 500, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. Acetaminophen can be found in more than 600 common over-the-counter and prescription products used by nearly one in four American adults every week, including household brands like Nyquil cold formula, Excedrin pain tablets and Sudafed sinus pills.

By wire sources