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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

France, Russia Recognise Differences Over Syria

The foreign ministers of Russia and France admitted publicly that the countries still had differences over who was responsible for the chemical weapons attack in Syria and also over how to solve the Syrian crisis ahead of a meeting of the UN Security Council. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow on Tuesday, one day after the UN released a report confirming that sarin nerve gas had been used in the attack outside Damascus in August. “When you look at the amount of sarin gas used, the vectors, the techniques behind such an attack, as well as other aspects, it seems to leave no doubt that the regime is behind it”, said Fabius. Lavrov said Russia had “serious grounds” to believe rebel forces had carried out the attack, and also warned Western powers not to try to invoke Chapter 7, which allows for military sanctions, in case Syria does not hand over its weapons to the international community. “Our partners want to again unilaterally review what we’ve agreed on with the Americans. That’s not how you do business, and I’m sure that despite these statements that are coming from European capitals, the Americans will, as proper negotiators, strictly stick to what has been agreed on”, he said.

Snowden Lives in Fear in Russia, Says Lawyer

US intelligence whistblower Edward Snowden moves about freely in Russia, has not yet been recognised on the streets of the country, but has hired private security for fear of being subject to an armed attempt to bring him back to the US. He has asked his Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, to keep his location “absolutely secret”. “We believe the danger remains quite high and, as I see it, it is impossible at the moment to reveal where he’s living or to talk openly about it, what you have to understand is that he’s being persecuted by a major power – the US government and we fear there could be some very serious consequences”, said the lawyer during an interview with Russian news channel RT. Kucherena said Snowden had been offered jobs in Russia and has also been the object of numerous marriage proposals. The most interesting, said the lawyer, came from a 50-year-old woman who also offered to adopt him.

DC Shooter Had a History of Mental Health Problems

The former US Navy reservist who killed 12 people and wounded eight at the Washington Navy Yard had a history of mental health issues, had been hearing voices and was being treated for his problems in the weeks leading up to the shooting, but was still given a security clearance and allowed to enter the high security site with a valid pass. Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old IT employee with a defence contractor, had already been arrested over shootings in 2004 and 2010 in Texas and in Washington stat and was being treated since August by the Department of Veteran Affairs for his mental health problems, but was not declared unfit by the Navy. He was able to enter the facility carrying three weapons, a feat that will renew a debate over the amount of security being employed by the US Defence Department to protect its personnel from attacks at home.

Murdered Four-Year-Old Boy Was “Invisible” to Carers

A four-year-old child who was murdered by his mother and her partner after suffering “terrifying and dreadful” abuse had been “invisible” to professionals that cared for him at school, by the police and by doctors and nurses. “No professional tried sufficiently hard enough” to talk to Daniel Pelka, according to a report by the Coventry Safeguarding Children Board. Daniel was first seen with bruises at eight months, in March 2008, when he was treated for a minor head wound. He was taken to A&E for a fractured arm in January 2011. Doctors treating him said that the explanation given to them by his mother, Magdalena Luczak, was “plausible”. Other bruises found on his body during the same hospital stay, explained by his mother as coming from “bicycle accidents”, were not “fully explored”. He was starved, beaten and force-fed salt by his guardians. Teachers failed to act upon a pattern of injuries once Daniel started school that September, and his severe weight loss was not acted upon by a community paediatrician. He died from a serious head injury on March 2012 and his mother and her partner are now serving minimum 30-year-terms in prison.

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