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Friday, April 26, 2013

UK Prime Minister: Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria a ‘War Crime’

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said that there is “limited but growing evidence” of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government in that country’s civil war. “It is very disturbing what we are seeing”, said Cameron, adding that “it is extremely serious, this is a war crime, and we should take it very seriously”. The US government had revealed on Thursday that its intelligence agencies believed “with varied degrees of confidence” that Syria had deployed sarin, a nerve agent, on a “small scale”. The prime minister agreed that this was a “red line” for intervention, adding that the UK was working to “shape that opposition to make sure we are supporting people with good motives who want a good outcome, to put pressure on that regime so we can bring it to an end”. When asked if he would support using military force or sending troops to Syria, Cameron said that he didn’t want to see such an outcome and didn’t think it was likely to happen, but said he thought the UK and its allies could “step up the pressure on the regime”.

South Korea to Pull Remaining Workers from Kaesong

South Korea’s Unification Minister, Ryoo Kihl-jae, said on Friday that the country’s government had decided to withdraw the approximately 175 South Korean nationals still stationed at the Kaesong industrial complex, jointly operated with North Korea. The decision was made because the regime in Pyongyang refused to start formal talks on the restart of operations at the complex. The minister also said that the government was worried South Koreans were not having access to food and medicine at Kaesong, which has been closed for nearly a month. It had been run jointly by both countries on their common border and provided jobs to more than 50,000 North Koreans, who were all withdrawn by their government on April 9. The north’s National Defence Commission (NDC) said that the south’s offer for talks was not sincere, adding that the ongoing joint US-South Korean military drills were an evidence of this. “If the South Korean puppet force continues to aggravate the situation, it would be up to us to take any final and decisive grave measures”, said a statement released by the NDC.

Boston Marathon Bombings Suspect Moved to Prison

Surviving Boston Marathon bombings suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been transferred from the Beth Israel Deaconess Center early on Friday to a federal medical detention facility, the Federal Medical Center Devens. A former US Army base to the west of Boston, the centre treats federal prisoners who require long-term medical care. Tsarnaev is recovering from a reportedly self-inflicted gunshot wound to the throat along with other injuries sustained during his attempt to evade local and federal authorities. The transfer comes after revelations that the Tsarnaev brothers planned to escape to New York in order to bomb Times Square, a plot that failed because the vehicle they had hijacked did not have enough fuel to make it that far. “The fact is New York City remains a prime target for those who hate America and want to kill Americans. The attacks in Boston and the news that New York City was next on the list shows just how critical it is for the federal government to devote resources to high risk areas”, said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Latin America ‘Threatened by Rise in Cancer Cases’

Experts writing in the Lancet Oncology journal have warned that Latin American countries are “threatened by rising cancer cases”. Although the region has fewer cases of cancer than more developed countries such as the US or the members of the European Union, the proportion who die is much higher, mainly because of late diagnosis and difficult access to treatment. The report, being launched at a oncology conference being held in São Paulo, Brazil, states that increasing life expectancy and better standards of living are leading populations in Latin American countries to eat less healthily and to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle, which could lead to a higher incidence of cancers. “The region is poorly equipped to deal with the alarming rise in cancer incidence and disproportionately high mortality rates compared with other world regions, underscoring the magnitude of the cancer-control problem”, said Paul Goss, professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School and leader of the research team that wrote the report.

Weekend Read: The Big One?

The H7N9 flu has killed 18 percent of the 108 people with lab-confirmed infections in China as of April 22. That’s a lethality about nine times the mortality rate of the Great Influenza of 1918-19. In Foreign Policy.

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