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Friday, June 14, 2013

Syria Calls US Evidence of Chemical Weapons Use a ‘Caravan of Lies’

Syria has said that the proof offered by the US that the government of President Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons against the rebels was “a caravan of lies”. “The United States, in resorting to a shameful use of pretexts in order to allow President Obama’s decision to arm the Syrian opposition, shows that it has flagrant double standards in the way it deals with terrorism”, said a statement released by the Syrian Foreign Ministry. The US findings had been mentioned by Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications. He had said that the “intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year” and that this assessment prompted the US to provide “direct support” to the rebels. One way of supporting the rebels could be the setup of a no-fly zone over the country, a move that would need to be ratified by the UN Security Council. Russia, another member of that body, said it did not find the US evidence conclusive. “The Americans tried to present us with information on the use of chemical weapons by the regime, but frankly we thought that it was not convincing”, said presidential aide Yury Ushakov on Friday.

Iran Votes as Ayatollah Says ‘To Hell’ With US Views on Elections

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was among the first to cast a ballot during Iran’s presidential elections on Friday, urging citizens to vote and saying the US should have no say in its internal politics. “To hell with you if you do not believe in our election. If the Iranian nation had to wait for you to see what you believe in and what you do not, then the Iranian nation would have lagged behind”, said the ayatollah. His remarks came after US Secretary of State John Kerry had said that he expected no change in Iran’s nuclear policies after the elections since any decisions regarding the nuclear programme rested with Khamenei himself. Iranian voters have a choice of six candidates approved by the country’s Guardian Council, with the three main front-runners being the Mayor of Tehran, Mohammed Baqer Ghalibaf, nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and cleric Hassan Rowhani. None are thought to be aligned with current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or reformist in nature, since the Guardian Council had only approved conservative candidates.

Protests Against Fare Increases Turn Violent in Brazil

Protests against transportation fare rises turned violent in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro on Thursday night, leading to clashes with police and adding to a growing sense of unrest in the country. Protesters were marching against fare rises of approximately US$0.10, a considerable amount in a country where the minimum wage is just over US$350. Police made liberal use of tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protestors in São Paulo, injuring 55 people and arresting another 235 in the fourth night of demonstrations in a week. Among those struck were two journalists from Folha de S.Paulo, Brazil’s highest-circulation newspaper. One of them, reporter Giuliana Vallone, was struck in the eye by a rubber bullet. Another photojournalist, Sergio Silva, was struck in the same manner and was expected to be blinded by his injuries. Protesters are expected to resume their marches on Friday night in a string of Brazilian capitals, with those in São Paulo expected to converge on the state governor’s palace in the evening.

Men to Blame for Menopause, Research Suggests

Researchers at McMaster University in Canada have found that men may be responsible for women going into menopause because they demonstrate a preference for younger mates. This lack of reproduction among older women gave rise to menopause as a result of natural selection. “We are saying somewhere along the line, men began to change their preference in mating”, said evolutionary biologist Rama Singh, one of the researchers. “Menopause will occur if there is a preferential mating with younger women and older women are not reproducing. It’s a very simple theory. What it does is it demystifies menopause. It becomes a simple age-related disease, if you can call it that. That’s just like all the mutations that affect our aging — white hair, weak muscles, this and that. These are mutations which affect fertility”, he added. The research also showed that women became infertile at a certain age to allow them to assist in the rearing of grandchildren, thus helping the chances of survival of their children’s offspring.

Weekend Read: Mussolini’s Gay Archipelago

Fascist Italy labeled gay men “degenerate” and interned them on an island in the Adriatic. Although held in a prison regime, some found the country’s first openly gay community a liberating experience. In BBC News.

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