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Thursday, August 22, 2013

France Says ‘Force’ Should Be Used if Syrian Chemical Weapon Attack is Confirmed

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday that the world should respond “with force” if the allegations that Syrian government forces used chemical weapons against its own population are proved true. “There would have to be reaction with force in Syria from the international community”, said the French foreign minister, before adding that “there is no question of sending troops on the ground”. While he gave no further details of a potential French involvement, the country joined an air campaign together with the UK and the US to help a rebel movement topple Muammar Gaddafi. Meanwhile, Israel said that its intelligence services confirmed the use of chemical weapons. “According to our intelligence assessments there was use of chemical weapons and this of course was not for the first time”, said Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli minister of strategic and intelligence affairs and international relations.

Material Seized from Miranda Can Only Be Examined for ‘National Security Purposes’

The UK High Court has ruled that material seized from David Miranda, a 28-year-old man who is the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, should only be examined for national security purposes. The data seized from Miranda cannot be inspected or distributed domestically or externally unless it serves the explicit purpose of protecting UK national security or for investigating whether Miranda himself is involved in the “commission, instigation or preparation of an act of terrorism”. Miranda was seized at Heathrow while flying back to Rio at the Guardian’s expense. He had been carrying new material to Greenwald, who has exposed the mass digital surveillance programme carried out by US and UK intelligence agencies based on the information leaked by Edward Snowden.

Chinese Politician Mounts Spirited Defence at Show Trial

Sixty-four-year-old Chinese politician Bo Xilai mounted a spirited defence at his trial on Thursday, saying that his confession of bribery crimes had been made under threats. “I have made it very clear that it was written under circumstances when I was suffering some improper pressure. At the time I thought there was nothing I could do to save myself”, said Bo, raising prospects that he might be acquitted a trial largely considered to be ready-scripted to deliver a long sentence for corruption. He was also allowed by the presiding judge to cross-examine billionaire Xu Ming, the prosecution’s star witness. Bo managed to make Xu deny that he was directly aware of the payments made to members of his family to gain his favour, making many observers doubt the solidity of the case against the former Communist Party chief of Chongqing.

Fukushima Situation ‘Much Worse’ Than Reported, Says Expert

A nuclear expert who has previously held advisory roles with the German and French governments has told the BBC that the radioactive water leaks at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant might be much worse than currently reported. “The quantities of water they are dealing with are absolutely gigantic. What is the worse is the water leakage everywhere else – not just from the tanks. It is leaking out from the basements, it is leaking out from the cracks all over the place. Nobody can measure that”, said Mycle Schneider, a lead author for World Nuclear Industry status reports. “It is much worse than we have been led to believe, much worse”, he added. Meanwhile, the head of Japan’s nuclear regulation authority said that the country should “prepare for more” leaks and that the country was “in a situation where there is no time to waste”.

Nixon Tapes Show Brezhnev Delivering Tips on How to Quit Smoking

Newly-released sections of the secret tapes recorded by a system put in place by then US president Richard Nixon have shown a different side to US-USSR summits. On June 18, 1973, Nixon met with USSR Chairman Leonid Brezhnev and chatted about what the Soviet leader had been doing to cut his smoking habit. “You see, I have a cigarette box there. It has a special timing mechanism and I can’t, I won’t be able to open it for an hour”, said Brezhnev, prompting Nixon to ask him how it could be open. “See, the mechanism, the timing mechanism is now working and I won’t be able to open that for another hour. In one hour it will unlock itself”, explained Brezhnev. Nixon joked it was “a way to discipline yourself”.

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