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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Russia Will Present Evidence at the UN Pointing to Syrian Rebel Chemical Attack

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said his country will give the UN Security Council evidence that rebel fighters carried out the chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus on 21 August. Syrian officials supplied the evidence to Russia. “We have plenty of reports on chemical weapons use, which indicate that the opposition regularly resorts to provocations in order to trigger strikes and intervention against Syria. There’s a lot of data. It’s widely available on the Internet. This data is presented in the report, which our experts put together in association with the use of chemical weapons in Aleppo in March this year. There’s also plenty of data on the incidents that occurred in August in Ghouta, near Damascus”, said Lavrov. The UN had released a report on Monday that did no apportion any blame for the attack. The report’s author, Ake Sellstrom, said that the “weapons looked quite professional”, but that his team could not conclude “who has been using them”. Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, had been critical of the report. “The basis of information upon which it is built is not sufficient, and in any case we would need to learn and know more on what happened beyond and above that incident of 21 August. We are disappointed, to put it mildly, about the approach taken by the UN secretariat and the UN inspectors, who prepared the report selectively and incompletely”, he said.

One Year To Scottish Independence Referendum

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond marked one year before the referendum on Scotland’s future saying that the country’s population should grab the opportunity of independence with “both hands”. “We are a country rich in natural resources, with world class universities, an outstanding visitor industry, expertise in engineering and life sciences, an astounding cultural heritage and a skilled and inventive people. Independence lets us build on that. We gain the chance to make Scotland fairer, unhindered by a Westminster system which has created one of the largest gaps between rich and poor in the developed world”, said Salmond. He also said the government’s detailed case for independence would be put forth in a white paper to be published in the autumn. Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said she backed the option to remain in the UK. “It’s because I’m a proud Scot, not despite it, that I support Scotland remaining strong in the United Kingdom. My head tells me it’s right, but my heart cries out for co-operation and not division”, she said.

Clegg Says Lib Dems Are The Ones to Finish Job of Economic Recovery

Lib Dem leader and UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told his party conference in Glasgow that they should be proud of their role in the coalition government and that they are the only party capable of finishing the job of economic recovery. “Our place in this Government has prevented the pendulum swinging back from left to right. We are now where we always should have been: in power; in the liberal centre; in tune with the British people”, he said. Clegg also said his party was close to breaking the country’s two-party mould “for good”. “In the past the Liberal Democrats would eke out an existence on the margins of British politics. Now we hold the liberal centre while our opponents head left and right. I have spent my entire life watching the other two mess it up”, said the deputy prime minister, adding that his party members could not “stand idly by and let them do it all over again. We are the only party that can finish the job of economic recovery, but finish it fairly. The only party able to build a stronger economy and a fairer society too”.

Abbott Sworn In as Australian Prime Minister

Conservative leader Tony Abbott has taken the oath of office after being elected the country’s prime minister amidst criticism over the lack of women in his cabinet. He immediately pledged to scrap the country’s carbon tax, a levy placed on the carbon content of selected fossil fuels consumed by major industries and government bodies, and turn back the boats carrying asylum-seekers to the country’s shores. Abbott said he would govern for “all Australians, including those that didn’t vote for us”. “We won’t forget those who are often marginalised, people with disabilities, indigenous people and women struggling to combine career and family. We will do our best not to leave anyone behind. We aim to be a calm, measured, steady and purposeful government that says what it means and does what it says”, he said. Outgoing Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd took to Twitter to thank Australia for “the opportunity to serve”.

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