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Friday, October 11, 2013

Chemical Weapons Watchdog Wins Nobel Peace Prize

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has won the Nobel Peace Prize, with the prize committee saying the award was in honour of the organisation’s “extensive work to eliminate chemical weapons”. OPCW director general Ahmet Uzumcu said the award was a great honour and that it would serve as motivation for its work around the world, saying its current deployment in Syria was “a tragic reminder that there remains much work to be done”. It is also the first time OPCW have been at work in an active war zone. “The conventions and the work of the OPCW have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law. Recent events in Syria, where chemical weapons have again been put to use, have underlined the need to enhance the efforts to do away with such weapons”, said the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjoern Jagland.

Coalition in Rift Over Snowden Intelligence Leaks

UK Business Secretary and Lib Dem deputy leader Vince Cable has revealed a rift in the coalition by arguing, contrary to his party leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg as well as prime minister David Cameron, that the Guardian was right in publishing intelligence gathered by US whistleblower Edward Snowden. “I think the Guardian has done a very considerable public service. The conclusion which Nick Clegg came to, and set out this morning, is that we do need to have proper political oversight of the intelligence services and arguably we haven’t until now. What they did was, as journalists, entirely correct and right. Mr Snowden is a different kettle of fish”, said Cable during an interview with the Today programme on BBC Radio 4. Clegg had said earlier that he didn’t think “just giving technical secrets to those who wish to do us harm serves any purpose”. Speaking one day before the business secretary’s’ interview, prime minister Cameron said that “if people want to suggest improvements about how they are governed and looked after I am very happy to listen to them, but as far as I can see we have a very good system“.

Syrian Rebels Accused of War Crimes by Human Rights NGO

A report by NGO Human Rights Watch says Syrian rebels killed at least 190 civilians and abducted more than 200 in attacks against towns and villages that were supportive of the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Latakia province, home to members of the president’s Alawite sect. The civilian death toll includes 43 women, children and elderly, suggesting the rebel groups killed sections of the population indiscriminately. “These abuses were not the actions of rogue fighters. This operation was a coordinated, planned attack on the civilian population of these Alawite villages”, said Joe Stork, acting Middle East director at HRW. Al Jazeera America attempted to speak to the rebel groups mentioned in the report. Muhammed al-Husseini, of the Sunni Ahrar al-Sham, said that its fighters had not killed any civilians. “If someone uses a weapon against you, you have to fight them. If they do not, you must not kill them”, he said.

Red Cross to Launch Emergency Food Plan to Aid UK’s Hungry

The Red Cross has announced it will work with UK NGO FareShare to collect and distribute food aid in the country for those in need, the first time it has run such an operation since the Second World War, based on “strong evidence of an increased need for support on food poverty issues”. “For British Red Cross it’s a toe in the water. It’s the first step in considering whether we ought to be doing more on today’s food poverty challenge”, said Juliet Mountford, Red Cross head of UK Service Development. Volunteers will be stationed at Tesco supermarkets to ask shoppers to donate dry goods to be distributed to food banks from the end of November. Commenting on the measure, Chris Jones, UK poverty director of Oxfam, said he was “genuinely shocked” at the proposed action. “They don’t do things for reasons of grandstanding at all. The fact that they are doing this is a very clear signal how serious things have become”, he said.

Weekend Read: Malala, Above the Nobel Prize

One year ago schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen – her “crime”, to have spoken up for the right of girls to be educated. The world reacted in horror, but after weeks in intensive care Malala survived. This is her story. In BBC News.

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