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Nation and World roundup: Sept. 18, 2013

  • This undated booking photo released in a document by the U.S. District Court shows Geoffrey Portway, scheduled for sentencing in federal court Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, in Worcester, Mass. Portway, of Worcester, pleaded guilty in April to solicitation to commit a crime of violence, and possession and distribution of child pornography.  (AP Photo/U.S. District Court)

    This undated booking photo released in a document by the U.S. District Court shows Geoffrey Portway, scheduled for sentencing in federal court Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, in Worcester, Mass. Portway, of Worcester, pleaded guilty in April to solicitation to commit a crime of violence, and possession and distribution of child pornography. (AP Photo/U.S. District Court)

  • Two women are hoisted into a Blackhawk helicopter as they are rescued near Jamestown, Colo., on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 during a helicopter search of the area devastated by flooding in the state.  The Office of Emergency Management says that the weather is expected to be clear enough to allow helicopters to take to the skies to rescue flood victims. (AP Photo/Denver Post,Joe Amon, POOL)

    Two women are hoisted into a Blackhawk helicopter as they are rescued near Jamestown, Colo., on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 during a helicopter search of the area devastated by flooding in the state. The Office of Emergency Management says that the weather is expected to be clear enough to allow helicopters to take to the skies to rescue flood victims. (AP Photo/Denver Post,Joe Amon, POOL)

  • This undated booking photo released in a document by the U.S. District Court shows Geoffrey Portway, scheduled for sentencing in federal court Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, in Worcester, Mass. Portway, of Worcester, pleaded guilty in April to solicitation to commit a crime of violence, and possession and distribution of child pornography.  (AP Photo/U.S. District Court)
  • Two women are hoisted into a Blackhawk helicopter as they are rescued near Jamestown, Colo., on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 during a helicopter search of the area devastated by flooding in the state.  The Office of Emergency Management says that the weather is expected to be clear enough to allow helicopters to take to the skies to rescue flood victims. (AP Photo/Denver Post,Joe Amon, POOL)

Opposition to health law flares in Congress

Implacable Republican opposition to Obamacare has Congress once more veering closer to gridlock.

In the House, more than 60 conservatives support tacking a one-year delay in implementing the health care law onto a bill needed to prevent a partial government shutdown Oct. 1.

Senior leaders warn the GOP could suffer significant political reverses if the party goes along with the plan and President Obama and Democrats resist, as they have made clear they will, but it is strongly backed by senators with Tea Party ties and their influential allies outside Congress. Its leading advocate, Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia, said the proposal unifies the rank and file “around two objectives we have, keeping the government open and protecting our constituents from the harmful effects of Obamacare.”

Massachusetts

Man who sought to eat children gets 27 years

A Massachusetts man who chatted online with other men about their desire to kidnap, rape, kill and eat children was sentenced yesterday to nearly 27 years in prison after prosecutors showed photos of a basement dungeon he built, a child-sized coffin, butchering tools and metal restraints.

Geoffrey Portway, 40, of Worcester, Mass., was sentenced to 26 years and eight months behind bars, just under the 27-year, three-month sentence sought by prosecutors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacy Dawson Belf said chats recovered from Portway’s computer show he solicited people for help for a kidnapping with the intent of raping, killing and eating a child. She disputed claims by Portway’s attorney that he was merely fantasizing and did not intend to do the things he described online.

Belf said Portway had assembled everything he needed to carry out his plan, except for a child.

New Jersey

Boardwalk fire linked to effects of ’12 storm

The massive fire that destroyed part of a Jersey Shore boardwalk and dozens of businesses began accidentally in wiring damaged in superstorm Sandy, and it should prompt coastal property owners to get their own equipment inspected for similar danger, officials said yesterday.

The boardwalk fire in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights started Thursday in aged wiring that had been compromised by salt water and sand during the Oct. 29 storm, federal and county investigators said at a news conference. The wind-whipped blaze destroyed more than 50 businesses in the two towns.

Syria

Russia still looking for proof of chemical use

Russia insisted yesterday that a U.N. Security Council resolution governing Syria’s handling of its chemical weapons not allow the use of force, but it suggested that could change if Damascus reneges on the deal to give up its stockpile.

The main Syrian opposition coalition, meanwhile, urged the international community to take swift action against the regime of President Bashar Assad in response to a U.N. finding that the nerve agent sarin was used in a deadly attack near the capital last month.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country “spoke clearly” about rejecting the use of force when the chemical weapons agreement was worked out Saturday in Geneva between Washington and Moscow. But if signs emerge that Syria is not fulfilling the agreement or there are reports of further chemical weapons use, “then the Security Council will examine the situation,” Lavrov said, suggesting the issue could be reconsidered.

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