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Monday, September 9, 2013

Russia Suggests Syria Could Place Chemical Arsenal Under International Control

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has urged Syria to place its chemical weapons under UN control in order to avoid a US-led military strike. “We are calling on the Syrian authorities to not only agree on putting chemical weapons storages under international control, but also for its further destruction and then joining the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. We have passed our offer and hope to receive a fast and positive answer”, he said. Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad spoke to PBS, saying that there was “no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people“. He also suggested that there would be “some kind of retaliation if a strike was made”, but that he would “not even talk about the nature of the response”. He also reminded US viewers that their recent experiences in getting into conflicts in the Middle East had “not been good”. His remarks come as US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Doha that the world faced its “Munich moment”. “All of us agreed – not one dissenter – that Assad’s deplorable use of chemical weapons, which we know killed hundreds of innocent people … this crosses an international, global red line”, said Kerry.

NSA Potentially Stole Trade Secrets, Despite Denial

The US government went further than just spying on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her senior staff, according to a new report by Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald aired on Globo TV, a Brazilian network. He revealed new documents obtained from US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden that show that the US NSA (National Security Agency) spied on Petrobras, the Brazilian national oil company, as well as the Brazilian subsidiary of Google. This is despite a statement by James Clapper, director of US national intelligence, that “what we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line”.

Russian Opposition Records Best Results in 13 Years

Russia’s opposition recorded its best electoral result in 13 years as its candidates for mayor in Moscow and Yekaterinburg, Russia’s third-largest city, received enough votes to embarrass ruling authorities. “The old political system is dead. What happened in Moscow and Yekaterinburg is related to people who are not associated with any party”, said liberal political commentator Leonid Gozman on the opposition leaning Dozhd TV channel. In Moscow, opposition leader Alexei Navalny received 27.2 percent of the vote for the Moscow mayoralty against 51.4 percent for Kremlin ally Sergei Sobyanin. Navalny challenged the outcome and demanded a runoff. “We call on all honest citizens who care about the city’s fate to come along today to the officially sanctioned rally in Bolotnaya Square to support our demands and wait for the outcome of the negotiations. Yesterday we found out that we can win. Now we have to understand whether we can defend our victory. We made it into the second round but they again took it away from us”, said Navalny. In Yekaterinburg, anti-drug activist Yevgeny Roizman appeared to have beaten the ruling party candidate, but official results are yet to be finalised.

UK Economy Turning a Corner, Says Chancellor

UK Chancellor George Osborne said on Monday that the country’s economy was rebounding, despite saying that the “economic collapse was even worse than we thought”. “We held our nerve when many told us to abandon our plan. And as a result, thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of the British people, Britain is turning a corner. Of course, many risks remain. These are still the early stages of recovery. But we mustn’t go back to square one. We mustn’t lose what the British people have achieved”, said Osborne. The Labour party dismissed the chancellor’s comments, with opposition leader Ed Miliband criticising Osborne for “saying to people that he has saved the British economy at a time when, for ordinary families, life is getting worse. If ever you wanted proof that the government is out of touch with most people, that it is on the side of the few, George Osborne has provided it today”.

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