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Obama: No combat mission...House prepares to vote...Schools collect military gear

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — His top military commander has left open the possibility -- but President Barack Obama says U.S. troops who will work to defeat the Islamic State group "do not and will not have a combat mission." The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told senators yesterday that under certain circumstances, American ground forces may be needed. But Obama, speaking today in Florida at the headquarters of U.S. Central Command, said he's not going to commit the nation's armed forces "to fighting another ground war in Iraq." He said Americans will provide support to Iraqi forces on the ground.

WASHINGTON (AP) — One House Democrat calls it "the best of a long list of bad options." That description of President Barack Obama's plan to help Syrian rebels fight the Islamic State group comes as the House nears a vote on the proposal today. The plan would send U.S. military trainers to Saudi Arabia, to arm and train Syrian opponents of the Islamic State militants.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It's not just city police departments that have been stocking up on free military surplus gear. School police departments across the country have also been collecting mine-resistant vehicles, grenade launchers and scores of M-16 rifles -- taking advantage of the Pentagon's surplus program. Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, schools have increasingly participated. But now, several districts say they'll return some of the equipment. The program has been under scrutiny after a militarized police response to the protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — If a grand jury doesn't indict the St. Louis area police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, a prosecutor says he will immediately release transcripts and audio recordings of the grand jury's investigation. A spokesman says the prosecutor has ordered that the proceedings be transcribed and audio-recorded -- an unusual step for grand juries in Missouri.

NEW YORK (AP) — A preliminary study done mostly in mice suggests that artificial sweeteners may set the stage for diabetes in some people. The study authors said they can't make dietary recommendations but that their results should inspire more research into the topic. Basically, the study suggests that artificial sweeteners alter the makeup of normal, beneficial bacteria in the gut. That appears to hamper how the body handles sugar in the diet, a situation that can lead to developing diabetes.

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