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Friday, September 13, 2013

US and Russia Describe Syria Talks as ‘Constructive’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his US counterpart John Kerry continued discussions in Geneva on Friday over the Russian plan for securing Syria’s chemical weapons and placing them under international control. Kerry said his talks with Lavrov had been “constructive” but that any success of an agreement at the UN would depend on “the capacity to have success here in the next hours, days, on the subject of chemical weapons”. Lavrov said it was necessary “to design a road which would make sure that this issue is resolved quickly, professionally, as soon as is practical”. He also hailed Syria’s joining of the Chemical Weapons Convention, confirmed by the country’s envoy to the UN, Bashar Jaafari. The country will now pass data on chemical weapons to the international body in 30 days.

Former MI6 Deputy Chief Says Snowden Leaks Not Damaging

The former deputy head of MI6 has denied that the leaks by US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden have seriously damaged UK national security. While saying that the leaks were “embarrassing, uncomfortable and unfortunate”, Inkster said that he sensed “that those most interested in the activities of the NSA and GCHQ have not been told very much they didn’t know already or could have inferred”. He did acknowledge, however that the depth of surveillance being carried out by the NSA and GCHQ were “remarkable”. “I must say that in the space of five years, the technical ability of what [they] can do is remarkable in getting their arms around a massive surge in communications data”, said the former MI6 deputy head.

Gang Arrested Over Plot to Take Over Santander Computers

Twelve men were arrested in the London area on Friday over a plot to steal millions from Santander by remotely taking control of a computer in one of the bank’s branches in Surrey Quays, south-east London. The bank said a man pretending to be an engineer had tried installed a KVM (keyboard video mouse) switch to one of the computers at the branch. It was not active, but could have downloaded data and contents if it was turned on. “This was a sophisticated plot that could have led to the loss of a very large amount of money from the bank, and is the most significant case of this kind that we have come across”, said Det Insp Mark Raymond of the Metropolitan Police. A spokesman for Santander said that the plot “failed and no money was ever at risk. No member of Santander staff was involved in this attempted fraud”.

UK Green Party ‘Credible Alternative’

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett told supporters during her party’s annual conference in Brighton on Friday that the Greens were a credible alternative to the “indistinguishable” bigger parties and that voters were turning to smaller parties for “new answers”. “Obviously our politics are very different. But people are looking for new answers and we’re going to see big shifts in British politics in the next few years”, said Bennett. “What we are seeing is very much a shift away from the largest parties”, she continued. The party has run Brighton and Hove City Council as a minority administration since 2011 and has elected two MEPs to the European Parliament, a number that could increase to six, according to former leader Caroline Lucas, the MP for Brighton Pavillion.

Weekend Read: The High-Earning Butlers of Dubai

A newly-trained butler in the United Arab Emirates can start on an annual salary of 582,000 Emirati Dirhams – the equivalent of £100,000 or US$158,000. And that’s tax-free. In the BBC Magazine.

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