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   BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian rebels shot down a military helicopter in the country's east, killing eight government troops on board a day after opposition forces entered a sprawling military air base in the north, activists said Monday.

   In the past months, rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad have frequently targeted military aircraft and air bases in an attempt to deprive his regime of a key weapon used to target opposition strongholds and reverse rebel gains in the 2 year old conflict.

   The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Monday posted a video online showing several armed men standing in front of the wreckage. One of the fighters in the footage says it's a helicopter that the rebels shot down late Sunday in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, along Syria's border with Iraq.

   As the man speaks, the camera shifts to a pickup truck piled with bodies. The fighter is then heard saying that all of Assad's troops who were aboard the helicopter were killed in the downing. He says Islamic fighters of the Abu Bakr Sadiqq brigade brought down the helicopter as it was taking off from a nearby air base in the provincial capital of Deir el-Zour.

   The Observatory, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said eight troops were killed.

   On Sunday, rebels occupied parts of a military air base in northern Syria after days of fighting with government troops who were defending the sprawling facility near the border with Turkey for months, the Observatory said.

   Assad's warplanes were pounding rebel positions inside the Mannagh air base Monday as clashes between rebels and government forces raged on, the Observatory said, adding there was an unknown number of casualties on both sides.

   The day before, rebels moved deep into the air base despite fire from government warplanes, capturing a tank unit inside the base and killing the base's commander, Brig. Gen. Ali Salim Mahmoud, according to another activists group, the Aleppo Media Center.

   The fighting came hours after Israeli warplanes struck areas in and around the Syrian capital, setting off a series of explosions as they targeted a shipment of highly accurate, Iranian-made guided missiles believed to be bound for Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group, officials and activists said.

   The attack, the second in three days and the third this year, signaled a sharp escalation of Israel's involvement in Syria's civil war. Syrian state media reported that Israeli missiles on Sunday struck a military and scientific research center near Damascus and caused casualties.

   The Syrian conflict started with largely peaceful protests against President Bashar Assad's regime in March 2011, but eventually turned into a civil war that has killed more than 70,000 people according to the United Nations.

   More than one million Syrians have fled their homes during the fighting and sought shelter in the neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Millions of others have been displaced inside Syria.

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   WASHINGTON (AP) - Attention online shoppers: The days of tax-free shopping on the Internet may soon end for many of you.

   The Senate is voting on a bill today that would empower states to collect sales taxes for purchases made over the Internet. The measure is expected to pass because it has already survived three procedural votes.

   The bill faces opposition in the House, where some Republicans regard it as a tax increase. But there is a broad coalition of retailers lobbying in favor of it.

   Under current law, states can only require retailers to collect sales taxes if the store has a physical presence in the state. As a result, many online sales are tax-free, giving Internet retailers an advantage over brick-and-mortar stores.

 
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   It looks like the last of the safeguards Missouri legislators had initially placed on casinos could soon be tossed out.  

   A bill now before the Senate would let the state’s 13 casinos issue short-term loans to gamblers, secured by the gamblers' bank accounts.  The measure easily won approval in the state house last month.  

   Casino executives say they need to be able to provide credit in order to attract high-end gamers who don't want to carry large amounts of cash.  

   The measure would repeal the last of the safeguards that were in the original state law voters passed in 1992 when they legalized riverboat gambling.  The rule requiring riverboat casinos to actually be on a boat on a river, and $500 loss limits have already been repealed.

Monday, 06 May 2013 03:35
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   New warnings are being issued to stay away from rain-swollen rivers and streams.  That after three men who'd gone fishing in the Meramec River had to be rescued Sunday morning.  

   The Saline Valley Fire Protection District received a call around 9:30 a.m. from someone who saw the men's thrown into the water when their canoe flipped.  

   Saline Valley Fire Chief Bob Dunn says while crews were en route to the scene, they got a second call.  This one was from one of the men in the water who told them they were approaching the Highway 21 bridge.  

   Chief Dunn says rescue crews dropped a line from the bridge in an effort to fish them out of the swift-moving water.  "We were here with a rope and we watched them go underneath the bridge," Dunn said.  "One of them was able to grab hold of the rope that we had thrown to them.  The other two couldn't."

   The other two men managed to grab onto some low-hanging trees.  They were rescued by boat.

 
Monday, 06 May 2013 02:11
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