Noontime News is a snapshot of the news from the past 24 hours.

Obama ‘has the right’ to strike Syria regardless of Congress vote, says Kerry

The Obama administration indicated on Sunday that it would launch military strikes against Syria even if it failed to get the backing of the US Congress, claiming evidence that sarin gas had been used in chemical attacks outside Damascus last month.

Cuts to wildfire projects have harmed Yosemite fire recovery, critics say

A cluster of controlled fire and tree-thinning projects approved by forestry officials but never funded might have slowed the progress of the massive Rim fire in California, a wide range of critics said this weekend.

Fukushima radiation levels 18 times higher than previously thought

Radiation levels 18 times higher than previously reported have been found near a water storage tank at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, prompting fresh concern over safety at the wrecked facility.

Russian anti-gay law prompts rise in homophobic violence

Russia has experienced an upsurge in homophobic vigilantism following the introduction of legislation outlawing “homosexual propaganda” in June, gay and lesbian groups say.

Swimmer Diana Nyad avoids jellyfish on first leg of Cuba-Florida trek

The American endurance swimmer Diana Nyad’s team said on Sunday that she made it through her first night in the Straits of Florida with almost no sightings of poisonous jellyfish. Nyad set off on her long-distance swim on Saturday.

North Korea blames US for collapse of Kenneth Bae talks

North Korea said it rescinded its invitation for a US envoy to visit the country to seek the freedom of American detainee Kenneth Bae because Washington perpetrated a “grave provocation” by allegedly mobilising nuclear-capable bombers during recent military drills with Seoul.

Pope Francis names fellow ascetic as Vatican secretary of state

Pope Francis has attempted to set a new tone for a Vatican beset by scandals by naming a veteran diplomat as secretary of state, a role often called the “deputy pope”.

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