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Monday, August 26, 2013

Snipers Shoot At UN Chemical Weapons Team

UN chemicals weapons experts were fired upon today as they attempted to reach the site of last week’s alleged sarin gas attack, which killed 355 people, according to Doctors Without Borders. Fortunately, all members of the team arrived safely at their destination.  The attack occurred in the buffer zone between rebel- and regime-held neighborhoods. Syrian rebels claim Assad was behind the attack, trying to scare the inspectors into canceling the investigation. Assad called those claims an “insult to common sense.”

The UN weapons team is tasked only with determining whether chemical weapons were used, not who used them. Despite that, the government abruptly cut short their on-site research time, during which they collect samples of hair, blood, urine, dirt, etc. from 6 hours down to 90 minutes.

Western governments, however, seem to have made up their minds as to who was behind the attack. US Secretary of State John Kerry called the regime’s attack “undeniable” and a “moral obscenity,” noting that bombing the site again before the inspectors got there was pretty suspicious. While many nations have called for action, nothing has been decided on what sort of action to take. Assad replied, “The US faces failure just like in all the previous wars they waged… Yes, … [they] can wage wars, but can they win them?”

NSA Wiretapped EU, UN Headquarters; Analysts Spy on Love Interests

Even as the 28 members of the EU were getting used to their new offices by the East River, the NSA immediately set about confronting the technical problems of bugging a new office like freshly-painted rooms, untouched wiring and newly-installed computer networks. The NSA got exact, to-scale floor plans, marked where the data servers were located, and went to work. Classified documents shown to Der Spiegel by Edward Snowden show the NSA infiltrated the Europeans’ internal computer network between New York and Washington and even eavesdropped on the video conferences of UN diplomats. Unsurprisingly, this is now causing the Obama administration diplomatic problems.

Domestically, it came out that NSA officers had used their company’s power to spy on exes and love interests, called LOVEINT. Officially, there were only a handful of cases – but crucially, all examples of LOVEINT were self-reported by agents.

Guards Must Escort Children to School in Chicago

Last spring, Chicago Public Schools made the decision to shutter 50 elementary school buildings and fire thousands of teachers and administrators in a move that has affected 30,000 children in the city. The rationale was Chicago’s mounting deficit forecast – it will hit $1 billion in 2014.

The school closings have mainly been in black or Hispanic neighborhoods (of course). Students now have to walk along unfamiliar routes to get to school, which takes them across gang boundaries. The city has hired 1,200 “safe passage” workers to staff the school routes (marked with yellow signs) and ensure the children’s safety. There were 3 homicides reported on or near those routes this summer alone.

Palestinian-Israeli Peace Talks in Doubt After Fatal West Bank Clash

Israeli security forces on a mission to arrest a “terror operative” in a Palestinian refugee camp called for military support after over 1,500 people gathered, throwing firebombs and rocks. In the violent clashes that ensued, Israeli soldiers shot and killed 3 men and injured at least 19.

Israeli officials said “riot dispersal methods” were used – rubber bullets and tear gas. Palestinian medics said that all those killed had been hit with live gunfire. It was reported both that Palestinians had canceled the peace talks (the first in 3 years) and that the talks would go forward.

 

 

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