Saturday 31 August 2013

Obama turns to Congress on Syria

Source BBC News@

Mr Obama said the US could not turn a blind eye to what had happened in Damascus

US President Barack Obama has formally asked Congress to authorise military action against Syria over alleged chemical weapons attacks.

He said any operation would be limited, ruling out a ground invasion. Congress is to reconvene on 9 September.

This comes after Washington claimed it had evidence that 1,429 people were killed in chemical attacks by the Syrian army on 21 August.

The Syrian government gave no immediate reaction to Mr Obama's announcement.

Damascus had earlier condemned the US allegations and blamed the rebels for the attacks.

President Obama was elected to end America's wars, and in reaction to the fallout of the invasion of Iraq. He knows, as he frankly admitted, that Americans are "weary of war". Many of his own supporters want him to focus on what he calls "nation-building at home".

But he is trapped within his own red lines and perhaps the need to send a signal to Iran and North Korea. White House sources say the British vote shows the dangers of allowing a debate - but it also removed a key ally and so, ironically, made support at home even more vital.

It also increased the demands from Congress itself to have a say. A recent poll indicated 80% of Americans thought Congress should vote before any military action. Some will say the decision shows President Obama is weak. It certainly shows the weakness of his position - he wants to take action that isn't popular and home or abroad.

But it is sensible to make sure the responsibility for unpopular action is shared with other politicians, and canny for domestic reasons to keep a very sour Congress sweet. Some might even argue that, in a democracy, it is the right thing to do.

In other developments:

  • UN inspectors who have been investigating the attacks have arrived in the Netherlands with samples from site visits. They say the testing could take up to three weeks

  • Foreign ministers from the Arab League are to discuss Syria at a meeting in Cairo, amid deep splits on the issue

  • Opposition members in France - a key US ally - have urged President Francois Hollande to seek a formal vote before joining Washington in any military operation in Syria

'Critical debate'

In a statement at the White House on Saturday, President Obama said that he decided that the US "should take action against Syrian regime targets".

As commander-in-chief, Mr Obama has the constitutional authority to launch strikes without the backing of Congress - the Senate and the House of Representatives.

However, he said it was important to have the debate.

"I've long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

"And that's why I've made a second decision: I will seek authorisation for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress," he said.

The UN wants swift laboratory analysis of samples obtained in Damascus

Later on Saturday, Mr Obama sent a "draft legislation" to the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president of the Senate.

Senior White House officials told the BBC's Katty Kay that Mr Obama's decision to seek congressional approval was made by the president on Friday afternoon. It had not been planned until then.

The officials added that they believed they would get congressional approval, although they were aware of the risks, our correspondent adds.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said the chamber "will engage in this critical debate right away", pledging the vote on the proposal would take place no later than the week of 9 September.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is a Republican, also welcomed the move, saying the president's role as commander-in-chief was "always strengthened when he enjoys the expressed support of the Congress".

But Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have been pushing for US intervention in Syria, warned against limited strikes which would not change the balance of the conflict, calling the prospect "an inadequate response".

In the House of Representatives, Republican Speaker John Boehner and other party members praised Mr Obama's decision "in response to serious, substantive questions being raised".

Discussion of the issue is expected to kick off on Tuesday with a hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The BBC's Katy Watson in Washington says that if Mr Obama is to intervene militarily, he wants the people - and politicians - on his side.

But what is unclear is what action he would take if Congress votes against involvement, our correspondent says.

'Utter nonsense'

The president's decision to turn to Congress was seen as a direct reaction to the UK government's defeat in Parliament on supporting any military action in Syria if it were backed by evidence from UN inspectors.

After the White House announcement, UK Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "I understand and support Barack Obama's position".

The BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner examines what we know about the Syria attack on 21 August

Mr Obama did not speak to Mr Cameron before his statement but did call President Hollande, the White House said.

France has also backed military action, and its parliament is due to reconvene next week.

Mr Hollande will wait for discussions in the US Congress and French parliament before making a decision on military intervention, a French official told the Associated Press.

Earlier on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin challenged the US to present to the UN evidence that Syria had attacked rebels with chemical weapons.

Mr Putin said it would be "utter nonsense" for Syria's government to provoke opponents with such attacks.

Russia - a key ally of Syria - has previously warned that "any unilateral military action bypassing the UN Security Council" would be a "direct violation of international law".

Moscow, along with China, has vetoed two previous draft resolutions on Syria.

The BBC's Jeremy Bowen in Damascus says people there are worried and are making preparations.

They did not know what Mr Obama meant by a limited attack and what consequences it would have, he adds.

The main findings of an unclassified US intelligence assessment on the Damascus attacks were that:

  • the attacks killed 1,429 people, including 426 children

  • Syrian military chemical weapons personnel were operating in the area in the three days before the attack

  • Satellite evidence shows rockets launched from government-held areas 90 minutes before the first report of chemical attack

  • 100 videos attributed to the attack show symptoms consistent with exposure to a nerve agent

  • Communications were intercepted involving a senior Damascus official who "confirmed chemical weapons were used" and was concerned about UN inspectors obtaining evidence

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said his country will defend itself against any Western "aggression".

Forces which could be used against Syria:

Syria map

Four US destroyers - USS Gravely, USS Ramage, USS Barry and USS Mahan - are in the eastern Mediterranean, equipped with cruise missiles. The missiles can also be fired from submarines, but the US Navy does not reveal their locations

Airbases at Incirlik and Izmir in Turkey, and in Jordan, could be used to carry out strikes

Two aircraft carriers - USS Nimitz and USS Harry S Truman are in the wider region

French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is currently in Toulon in the western Mediterranean

French Rafale and Mirage aircraft can also operate from Al-Dhahra airbase in the UAE

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Post-football arrests in Stoke

Source BBC News@

Breaking news

Police have made 23 arrests after a disturbance broke out following a football match.

Staffordshire Police said its officers made arrests when a "minority of fans" confronted each other after a League One fixture between Port Vale and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Earlier, on Twitter, the force said fans from both sides were trying to confront each other and the police.

Port Vale lost the game 3-1 to visiting Wolves.

Extra policing had been brought in for the game.

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Vigilantes 'killed by Boko Haram'

Source BBC News@

Vigilantes in Maiduguri. File photoThe army has encouraged vigilante groups to help fight Boko Haram

Suspected Boko Haram fighters have killed at least 24 members of a vigilante group in north-eastern Nigeria, security officials say.

They say another 34 people are missing after the attack near the town of Monguno in Borno state.

The officials said militants wearing army uniforms ambushed more than 100 vigilantes on Friday.

Nigeria's army has encouraged the formation of vigilante groups to help fight back against the Islamists.

Revenge attacks

The militants attacked the vigilante youths on the outskirts of Monguno, about 160km (100 miles) north-east of the state capital Maiduguri.


The vigilante youths had been on a mission to capture Boko Haram militants in their camps when they were ambushed, the Sunday Tribune reports.

The vigilantes had originally arranged to go with the army but after some hours of waiting for the soldiers to arrive they moved in by themselves.

They were ambushed by militants who "had disguised in military uniforms with three captured patrol vehicles of the security agencies", sources told the paper.

There are fears that the death toll could rise further.

Boko Haram has waged a deadly insurgency in Nigeria since 2009.

In May, President Goodluck Jonathan declared an emergency in three north-eastern states, including Borno, saying the group threatened Nigeria's existence.

An offensive was launched against the group - which says it is fighting for the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria - and the military encouraged the formation of vigilante groups to help.

But now it appears Boko Haram is taking revenge against such groups, say observers - adding weight to fears that the vigilante groups may trigger an escalation of the violence.

Last week, at least 20 vigilantes were killed in two separate attacks in Borno.

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'Legal high' bans must be 'faster'

Source BBC News@

MephedroneOne in 12 young people in the UK said they had taken legal highs, according to the think tank

Government efforts to clamp down on the sale of dangerous substances - known as legal highs - are failing, a think-tank has warned.

The Centre for Social Justice - set up by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith - says the UK is a leading hub for selling the drugs online.

Last year, 52 people in England and Wales died after taking legal highs, up from 28 the previous year.

Ministers said they were banning whole groups of drugs to tackle the problem.

The report, No Quick Fix, says legal highs, also known as club drugs including Salvia and Green Rolex, have similar effects to banned drugs, but they can be sold legally as long as they are clearly marked "not for human consumption".

They are often marketed as bath salts or research chemicals.

The drugs can cause permanent bladder damage, blood poisoning and death.

According to the Centre for Social Justice, there are now more than 130 UK-registered websites selling the products cheaply by mail order.

The report also says there are 250 types of these psychoactive substances in circulation - so many that they now outnumber controlled drugs.

The think-tank said one in 12 young people in the UK said they had taken legal highs - the highest figure in Europe.

In England, 6,486 people were treated in 2011-12 for abusing these types of drugs, an increase of 39% since 2005-06, it said.

CSJ's policy director, Alex Burghart, said: "Last year, one death every week was related to legal highs - that's a substantial rise on the year before so we know this is a serious problem."

'Faster on its feet'

Crime Prevention Minister, Jeremy Browne, said the government took the threat of legal highs seriously, describing them as "highs which should not be assumed to be either safe or legal".

"Our Forensic Early Warning System enables us to closely monitor their availability, so we can target activity to reduce demand and supply.

"We are banning whole groups of substances rather than individual drugs and have introduced temporary drug orders which allow us to place harmful substances under control - protecting the public while giving time to our independent experts to prepare more detailed advice."

But Mr Burghurt said: "We know the government cares about it and is trying to make a difference, but the system they have for banning new substances is slow.

"They managed to ban 15 new substances since 2010, but in the same time 150 have come onto the market so we really need a system that is much faster on its feet."

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New UK chief rabbi to be installed

Source BBC News@

Chief Rabbi designate Ephraim Mirvis: "The challenges are enormous, we have to empathise with everybody in society who is vulnerable"

Ephraim Mirvis is due to be installed as the new chief rabbi of the UK and Commonwealth at a ceremony in London.

The former chief rabbi of Ireland will succeed Lord Jonathan Sacks, who has held the post since 1991.

The Prince of Wales is due to join Jewish and other faith leaders for the event at St John's Wood Synagogue.

The chief rabbi is traditionally seen as the figurehead of British Jews and Rabbi Mirvis has said reversing falling membership was a key challenge.

However, his new role is only officially representative of the United Synagogue, the biggest wing of orthodox Judaism in the UK.

Some Liberal and Reform Jews have questioned his role, while the ultra-orthodox community looks elsewhere for religious authority.

In a BBC interview ahead of taking up the role, Rabbi Mirvis said: "As the incoming chief rabbi I extend a hand of warmth, of friendship, to my colleagues who are in movements outside of the orthodox movement and with all of their members.

"I would like them to know that I would like to work closely with them. Unity of the Jewish people is of enormous importance.

"Within our own ranks we need to build on that which unites us and not to concentrate so much on that which separates us. And I will do my utmost to ensure that we will indeed achieve that unity."

He has also said that he would like to "transform communities" so that synagogues "are not merely places where people come along to pray, but rather that they should be powerhouses of Jewish cultural social educational and religious activity".

Rabbi Mirvis, who was born in South Africa in 1956, is currently rabbi at Finchley Synagogue in north London.

He is married to Valerie, a local authority senior social worker, and they have four sons. Their daughter, Liora Graham, died in 2011 after a long battle with cancer.

Rabbi Mirvis was a rabbi in Dublin before becoming Ireland's chief rabbi in 1985, a post he held until 1992. He was chosen as the new chief rabbi after a two year search.

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Yemen PM survives assassination bid

Source BBC News@

Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa (file photo)Mr Basindwa, 78, has been in office since late 2011

Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa has survived an assassination attempt unharmed, officials in the capital Sanaa say.

Gunmen in a vehicle opened fire on the PM's motorcade as he returned home from his office, one of his advisers said.

It is the first time Mr Basindwa has come under attack, the AFP news agency says, although other members of his cabinet have previously been targeted.

The government is battling militants of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

A senior intelligence officer was killed by suspected militants in southern Labous province late on Friday.

Mr Basindwa was a senior opposition figure before being appointed in November 2011 to head the government set up after veteran leader President Ali Abdullah Saleh left power.

One of his aides, Ali al-Sarari, told Reuters news agency security forces were trying to track down the vehicle used in the attack.

Earlier this month, the US and several other Western countries temporarily shut their embassies in Sanaa after reports of an imminent al-Qaeda attack.

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Obama to seek Congress vote on Syria

Source BBC News@

Breaking news

US President Barack Obama says he is to seek Congressional authorisation for military operations against Syria.

He says he supports the principle of acting in Syria, and Congress will debate and vote on the matter. Congress reconvenes on 9 September.

The US says its intelligence reports indicate the Syrian government carried out chemical weapons attacks on 21 August in which 1,429 people died.

The Syrian government denies it was behind the attacks and blames rebels.

UN inspectors have now left Syria with samples from site visits, which will go to laboratories in Europe for testing.

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Pope Francis makes key appointment

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Pope Francis in Rome, 31 July Pope Francis has promised to put an end to Vatican scandals

Pope Francis has named a new secretary of state, in what is seen as his most significant appointment since he became leader of the Catholic Church in March.

Archbishop Pietro Parolin, a 58-year-old Vatican diplomat, replaced Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 79, who is retiring.

Cardinal Bertone, appointed by Francis' predecessor Pope Benedict, had been widely criticised over last year's so-called "Vatileaks" scandals.

Leaked documents revealed corruption and infighting at the Vatican.

The secretary of state heads the Roman Curia, the central administration of the Catholic Church, and is the Pope's chief adviser.

Archbishop Parolin, an Italian, is currently the Vatican's nuncio - or ambassador - in Venezuela.

The BBC's David Willey in Rome says his appointment marks the beginning of the replacement or dismissal of several former key members of Benedict's administrative team.

Pope Francis has also promised to stamp out abuses at the Vatican bank - officially known as the Institute for Religious Works.

Shortly after his appointment, he set up a commission to investigate the bank and report back to him personally. He later he issued a decree to combat money-laundering.

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Briton arrested over death in Spain

Source BBC News@

Map of Spain with L'Estartit

A British man has been been arrested on suspicion of killing his father at a Spanish camping site, Spanish media reports say.

The 45-year-old was said to have been held in L'Estartit, a seaside town on the Costa Brava, on Saturday morning.

His father, 69, was taken to hospital but died, triggering a murder investigation by Catalan police.

The Foreign Office said it was aware of the death of a British national and the arrest of another in Barcelona.

It said it was providing consular assistance.

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US claim on Syria 'nonsense' - Putin

Source BBC News@

Breaking news

Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed US claims that Syria's regime used chemical weapons, describing them as "utter nonsense".

Mr Putin challenged Washington to present the evidence behind its claims to the United Nations Security Council.

US President Barack Obama has said he is considering military action against Syria based on intelligence reports.

The Russia leader's remarks came after UN chemical weapons inspectors ended their visit to Syria.

They crossed into neighbouring Lebanon after four days of inspections, including investigations of what happened in the Damascus suburbs on 21 August.

Hundreds of people including children were killed in the suspected chemical weapons attack, which the US says was carried out by the Syrian government.

Syria said the US claim was "full of lies", blaming rebels for the attacks.

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Delhi gang rape accused guilty

Source BBC News@

Protest in DelhiThe gang rape led to widespread protests across India demanding government action

An Indian juvenile court is expected to deliver its verdict in the case of a teenager accused of taking part with a group of adults in the fatal gang rape of a woman on a Delhi bus.

He is charged with rape, murder, destroying evidence, and other crimes carried out while aged 17.

The teenager, who cannot be named, faces up to three years in a reform facility if convicted.

He has denied the charges, as have four men also on trial for the attack.

They face the death penalty. A fifth adult defendant was found dead in his cell in March and prison officials said they believed he hanged himself.

The gang rape of the 23-year-old woman last December caused uproar across India and triggered a national debate about the treatment of women.

The verdict in the case of the teenager - now aged 18 - has been deferred several times before.

Case Timeline

  • 16 December 2012: Student gang raped on Delhi bus

  • 17 December: Bus driver Ram Singh and three others arrested

  • 18 December: Uproar in parliament, street protests in Delhi and elsewhere

  • 21-22 December: Two more arrests, including a minor

  • 29 December: Victim dies in Singapore hospital

  • 7 January 2013: Suspects charged in court with abduction, gang rape, murder

  • 21 January: Trial of five accused begins in special fast-track court

  • 2 February: Five accused plead not guilty

  • 28 February: Sixth accused charged in juvenile court

  • 11 March: Ram Singh found dead in Tihar jail

He was six months short of becoming an adult at the time of the crime and many, including the family of the victim, have demanded that he should be treated as an adult and face the death penalty for his alleged crime.

Meanwhile, a special fast-track court dealing with the trial of the four men accused in the case has been hearing closing arguments.

A judge who has been hearing the case since the trial began in February is expected deliver his verdicts in mid-September.

In March, India passed a new bill containing harsher punishments, including the death penalty, for rapists.

Correspondents say the court hearings are being closely followed in India.

The victim, a physiotherapy student who also cannot be named for legal reasons, was with a male friend when she was attacked on a bus and thrown from the vehicle.

Police said the assailants beat both of them and then raped the woman. She died in a Singapore hospital on 29 December from massive internal injuries.

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Sir Ralph Richardson

Nguồn tin: tieng anh vui

"Acting is merely the art of keeping a large group of people from coughing."

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David Letterman

Nguồn tin: tieng anh vui

"Sometimes when you look in his eyes you get the feeling that someone else is driving."

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Steven Wright

Nguồn tin: tieng anh vui

"When I woke up this morning my girlfriend asked me, 'Did you sleep good?' I said 'No, I made a few mistakes.'"

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Bertrand Russell

Nguồn tin: tieng anh vui

"In the part of this universe that we know there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper, and one hardly knows which of those is the more annoying."

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George Eliot

Nguồn tin:

"What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined... to strengthen each other... to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories."

Đăng ký: Hoc tieng anh


Oprah Winfrey

Nguồn tin:

"Every one of us gets through the tough times because somebody is there, standing in the gap to close it for us."

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Sir William Osler

Nguồn tin:

"Live neither in the past nor in the future, but let each day's work absorb your entire energies, and satisfy your widest ambition."

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Charlotte Bronte

Nguồn tin:

"A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow."

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Friday 30 August 2013

Woman in court over girl's murder

Source BBC News@

Police cordon in Broomfield RoadAmbulance crews pronounced the girl dead at the scene

A 34-year-old woman is to appear in court charged with the murder of an eight-year-old girl who died at a block of flats in east London.

The woman, believed to be the child's mother, was arrested at a property in Broomfield Road, Chadwell Heath, at 11:38 BST on Thursday.

She will appear at Barking Magistrates' Court later, according to the Metropolitan Police.

Results of a post-mortem examination on the child are yet to be announced.

The woman was treated at Queen's Hospital in Romford for minor injuries after paramedics were called to the scene.

Ambulance crews were responding to a report of an injured child.

Scotland Yard said the death is being investigated by the Met's homicide and major crime command.

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Mandela returns home from hospital

Source BBC News@

Breaking news

Former South African President Nelson Mandela has returned to his home in Johannesburg after a long stay in hospital in Pretoria.

The 95-year-old was admitted with a recurring lung infection on 8 June.

His condition was last week described as "critical but stable", and there has been no official update on his health since then.

The infection is said to date back to a period of nearly three decades he spent in prison for anti-apartheid activity.

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US plans 'limited act' against Syria

Source BBC News@

Barack Obama: "We're not considering any boots on the ground approach"

President Barack Obama has said the US is considering a "limited narrow act" in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army.

Mr Obama stressed that no "final decision" had been made, but ruled out putting American "boots on the ground".

Citing a US intelligence assessment, Secretary of State John Kerry accused Syria of using chemical weapons to kill 1,429 people, including 426 children.

Syria said the US claim was "full of lies", blaming rebels for the attack.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier said his country would defend itself against any Western "aggression". French President Francois Hollande has reaffirmed his support for the US stance.

US Secretary of State John Kerry did far more than set out a moral case for military action.

What he did was make it impossible for President Barack Obama to back away from it. He said if the US didn't act, history would judge them harshly.

If they turned a blind eye, it would embolden dictators in Iran and North Korea and leave the US without credibility in the world.

Mr Obama has made similar points himself. It is not the first time Kerry has made the case. But these were the strongest words yet.

When Mr Obama spoke he sounded pretty downbeat by comparison, although he too pointed firmly towards some form of action.

But he was keen to stress that any action would be limited, unlike Afghanistan or Iraq, and would not involve boots on the ground.

There are increasing mutterings from Congress, asking him how certain he is of that.

But Russia - a key ally of Syria - has warned that "any unilateral military action bypassing the UN Security Council" would be a "direct violation of international law".

World's 'obligation'

Speaking on Friday, President Obama said the alleged attack in Damascus' suburbs on 21 August was "a challenge to the world" that threatened America's "national security interests".

"We cannot accept a world where women and children and innocent civilians are gassed on a terrible scale.

"The world has an obligation to make sure that we maintain the norm against the use of chemical weapons."

But the US leader stressed that Washington was "looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act", and there would be "no boots on the ground" or "long-term campaign".

Mr Obama comments came shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry laid out a raft of what Washington said was a "high confidence" intelligence assessment about the attack.

The main findings of the released unclassified summary state that:

  • the attack killed 1,429 people, including 426 children

  • Syrian military chemical weapons personnel were operating in the area in the three days before the attack

  • Satellite evidence shows rockets launched from government-held areas 90 minutes before first report of chemical attack

  • 100 videos attributed to the attack show symptoms consistent with exposure to nerve agent

  • Communications were intercepted involving a senior Damascus official who "confirmed chemical weapons were used" and was concerned about UN inspectors obtaining evidence

The US said its assessment was backed by accounts from medical personnel, witnesses, journalists, videos and thousands of social media reports.


There is no doubt that a chemical weapons attack took place but not such a compelling case on who did it. The evidence tying this attack directly to the Assad regime was largely circumstantial and asserted - not revealed.

What we would like are the details of the conversations, who carried them out and the background. This is one of the conundrums of intelligence - the reluctance of the people who collect it to reveal in detail what they collected because of the fear of loss of sources and methods.

Another key element missing is why is this important to US national security and important enough where we would consider a military attack because doubts persist in the US about why we should do this. About 100,000 died before from conventional munitions and we did nothing.

And Kerry did not in the same compelling fashion that he laid the chemical attack at the regime's feet explain why he was certain that a US military attack would bring the Syrian regime to the negotiating table.

UN chemical weapons inspectors are investigating the alleged poison-gas attacks and are expected present preliminary findings to the UN after they leave Damascus on Saturday.

However, it may be two weeks before final results were ready, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told diplomats.

But Mr Kerry said the US already had the facts, and nothing that the inspectors found could tell the world anything new.

He also described Mr Assad as "a thug and a murderer".

In response, Syria's state-run news agency Sana said Mr Kerry was using "material based on old stories which were published by terrorists over a week ago".

'Strong message'

The UN Security Council is unlikely to approve any military intervention because of opposition from Russia - one of the five permanent members.

Moscow, along with China, has vetoed two previous draft resolutions on Syria.

The US was also dealt a blow on Thursday when the UK parliament rejected a motion supporting the principle of military intervention.

The vote rules the UK out of any potential military alliance.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Mr Obama spoke over the telephone on Friday, agreeing to continue to co-operate on international issues.

The president told Mr Cameron he "fully respected" the approach taken by the UK government.

US officials said they would continue to push for a coalition, and France said it was ready to take action in Syria alongside the US.

Mr Obama and French President Francois Hollande discussed the issue in a telephone conversation on Friday, Paris said.

It said that both leaders wanted to send Damascus a "strong message" to condemn the alleged use of chemical weapons.

Unlike Britain, neither France nor the US needs parliamentary approval for military action.

Another US ally, Turkey, called for action similar to the Nato bombing raids in the former Yugoslavia in 1999.

Nato carried out 70 days of air strikes to protect civilians from attack in Kosovo, despite not having a UN resolution.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said that any military intervention should be aimed at toppling Mr Assad.

Sarin stockpile

The use of chemical weapons is banned under several treaties, and considered illegal under customary international humanitarian law.

The Syrian army is known to have stockpiles of chemical agents including sarin gas.

Earlier accounts of the attack in Damascus quoted officials from medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres as saying 355 people had been killed.

The UN inspectors have collected various samples that will now be examined in laboratories across the world.

The UN team is not mandated to apportion blame for the attacks.

More than 100,000 people are estimated to have died since the conflict erupted in Syria in March 2011, and the conflict has produced at least 1.7 million refugees.

Syria map

Forces which could be used against Syria:

Four US destroyers - USS Gravely, USS Ramage, USS Barry and USS Mahan - are in the eastern Mediterranean, equipped with cruise missiles. The missiles can also be fired from submarines, but the US Navy does not reveal their locations

Airbases at Incirlik and Izmir in Turkey, and in Jordan, could be used to carry out strikes

Two aircraft carriers - USS Nimitz and USS Harry S Truman are in the wider region

French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is currently in Toulon in the western Mediterranean

French Raffale and Mirage aircraft can also operate from Al-Dhahra airbase in the UAE

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'Sharp rise' in sexual abuse calls

Source BBC News@

Young girl covering her faceThe NSPCC put the rise in reported cases down to the "Savile effect"

A children's charity has said it has seen a sharp rise in the number of reported cases of sexual abuse.

The NSPCC said calls to its 24-hour advice line in June and July were nearly twice as high as in 2012.

The organisation put it down to a heightened state of awareness of the problem of child abuse following the Jimmy Savile scandal.

People now seemed to be better equipped and more confident in reporting their concerns, it added.

The NSPCC said more people were using its helpline, 11 months since the allegations against Savile first emerged.

During June and July there were 594 referrals to the NSPCC's call centre compared with 323 at the same time the previous year - an 84% increase.

All of these cases were passed on to police and social services.

The charity put the increase down to a heightened awareness of child sex offences and said the Savile scandal had changed the way the public reacted to abuse.

John Cameron, head of the helpline, said: "The number of calls we took this summer was significantly higher than last year.

"There appears to be a clear shift and the public now seem better equipped and more confident to report their concerns.

"It's very encouraging to see that adults, including those who don't have direct responsibility for children, take action if they think a child is at risk.

"The Savile scandal has shocked the nation but has also increased public awareness of how difficult it is for children to speak out and how crucial it is for adults to report any suspicions or concerns they have straight away."

Revelations which surfaced late last year of alleged abuse by Savile over 50 years prompted hundreds of people to come forward who gave accounts of abuse by him and others.

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Man dies on North Sea diving trip

Source BBC News@

A man has died and another was injured on a diving trip in the North Sea off the Suffolk coast.

Seven people were thought to be on the boat during a dive which police described as "recreational rather than industrial".

Police met the dive boat as it returned to Hamilton Docks in Lowestoft.

One of the divers was airlifted to the James Paget Hospital at Gorleston at 15:30 BST but he died. His death is being treated as "unexplained".

A lifeboat brought a second diver ashore at Gorleston and he was also taken to the hospital.

Police, working with the coastguard and the Health and Safety Executive, said an investigation is under way.

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Obama 'respects' PM's Syria approach

Source BBC News@

Breaking news

David Cameron and US President Barack Obama have discussed Parliament's block on UK involvement in possible military action in Syria, the BBC understands.

The men spoke by phone for 15 minutes, and the tone of the conversation was said to be friendly.

The prime minister reiterated he still wanted to see a strong response to the suspected chemical weapons attack.

But he also explained the parliamentary process to the US president, who said he understood the PM's predicament.

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Syria attack killed 1,429 - Kerry

Source BBC News@

Breaking news

US Secretary of State John Kerry says the chemical attack by Syrian forces on 21 August killed 1,429 people.

More to follow.

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Six jailed over child prostitution

Source BBC News@

Six men from Leicester who sexually exploited a "vulnerable" 16-year-old girl have been jailed.

The group admitted paying the girl for sex, or attempting to do so, after she told them she was a prostitute.

The men, whose ages range from 20 to 39 years, were jailed for between eight months and five years.

Three changed their plea to guilty part way through their trial and three pleaded guilty at their first appearance at Leicester Crown Court.

More to follow.

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PM vows to stand up for Gibraltar

Source BBC News@

Fabian Picardo, left, with David CameronGibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo met David Cameron at Downing Street

Britain will always stand up for Gibraltar and the interests of its people, David Cameron has said.

The prime minister said it was something that mattered to us "very deeply", as he held a meeting to discuss the border dispute with Spain.

After talks at Downing Street, the British territory's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said Gibraltar knew it had "a friend in David Cameron".

Mr Picardo also met Foreign Secretary William Hague on Wednesday.

In recent weeks, Spanish authorities have increased checks at the Gibraltar border, leading to lengthy delays.

It came after Gibraltar dropped 74 concrete blocks into the sea next to its territory.

Gibraltar claimed it would create an artificial reef and encourage sea life to flourish, but the Spanish said the blocks would disrupt waters used by its fishing boats.

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Insurers show accidents near schools

Source BBC News@

Car crashMore education and penalties will cut accidents further, says the government

More than 1,000 children a month are being injured on local roads around British schools, insurance industry figures indicate.

Insurers also say 37% of local school areas had at least one child road injury each year from 2006 to 2011.

The government said the data was crude, road deaths were at a record low and the number of children injured had fallen considerably in recent years.

Insurers are launching an online tool for parents.

The online index has been compiled by the research group Road Safety Analysis and Axa Car Insurance, who say it will help parents understand "the risks associated with the roads around their local schools to keep their children safe".

The website will show how many vehicle collisions, including those involving children, have happened within 500m (a third of a mile) of the school gate.

The tool draws on data from the past six years, which the backers say shows there were 85,814 child injuries on roads within a 500m radius of schools, the equivalent of 1,190 a month.

Only one in five schools had no children injured in accidents within that distance over that period, the researchers say.

Separate figures used by the site also suggest there were 557,200 vehicle collisions around schools in the period 2006 to 2011, the equivalent of six collisions per school per year on average.

These collisions included any incident reported to police involving any vehicle on a local road, including those that did not result in injuries.

Some of these accidents were in the school holidays and child injury numbers do not necessarily refer to pupils at that particular school.

Regional differences

The website suggests the top area for collisions in the six-year period was London, which accounted for 13% of the child casualties nationally and 22% of collisions overall.

Looking at cities with more than 100 schools, excluding London, the figures showed that from 2006 to 2011 Liverpool had the highest number of road injuries (deaths, serious injuries and slight injuries) around schools, followed by Nottingham, Manchester, Birmingham and Leicester.

Road Safety Analysis director Dan Campsall said: "Translating this wealth of data into something that is meaningful for parents, teachers and community leaders has its challenges.

"However, it is important that these groups are able to understand the immediate road risks around their local schools if they are going to work effectively to secure safer communities for children in the future.

"The data can be used to support changes in local road safety education as well as the road environment, therefore helping to further safeguard pupils across the country."

Government figures show that in 2012, a total of 2,272 children were killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads - down 6% on the previous year.

Over the same period, the total number of "child casualties" in Britain was 17,251 - down 11% on the previous year.

Better education

Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond said: "Road deaths are at a record low and child casualties have fallen considerably in recent years but I am determined to make our roads even safer.

"That is why we are improving road safety education resources for schools, making it easier for councils to put in place 20mph zones on their roads and are increasing fixed penalties for offences such as driving while using a mobile phone from £60 to £100.

"By combining education, enforcement and engineering measures such as these we will continue to reduce deaths and injuries on our roads."

Earlier this year, the government launched its own website to give people local data on accidents in their local areas.

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Super Puma helicopter flights resume

Source BBC News@

Helicopter engineOne of the engines from the crashed Super Puma helicopter was brought ashore late on Thursday

A meeting of industry representatives has recommended that Super Puma helicopters should be cleared to fly.

All offshore flights by the Super Puma had been suspended following the crash off Shetland last week which killed four oil workers.

The Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) said a campaign would be started to engage with the offshore workforce.

Earlier the missing flight data recorder the crashed helicopter was recovered.

Les Linklater of HSSG said: "Four people tragically lost their lives on Friday. However there are almost 16,000 people offshore currently, with over 12,000 in the most affected areas (central and northern North Sea).

"Today, there are over 250 people who have spent more than 21 days offshore, this is increasing daily and they and their families are wondering when they are going to get home.

"We have a duty of care to all offshore workers both in terms of their safety and their well-being; we must consider the cumulative risk of the 'time out'. We must avoid a further tragedy through the introduction of human factor-based risk such as fatigue, stress and other well-being concerns that increase the likelihood of a high consequence - low frequency event."

He added: "The individual helicopter operating companies will now work with their customers, to ensure the correct information and confidence-building communication is available, sensitive to the individual needs of the offshore workforce, before returning to full commercial passenger service."

The L2 model of Super Puma, the type involved in the Shetland crash, will be initially re-introduced for "non-passenger revenue operations only".

This means non-passenger carrying maintenance, positioning and training flights.


Concerns about the return to service of the Super Puma have been expressed by trade union representatives.

The wreckage was brought ashore in Lerwick and loaded onto a lorry

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said: "The continued grounding of the L2 fleet - the same type involved in last Friday's crash resulting in four fatalities and also in the April 2009 crash with sixteen fatalities - is the bare minimum that the industry can do until the recovered black box's data fully establishes why this tragedy occurred."

The union is seeking assurances that workers will not be forced to fly in helicopters when they have serious concerns about safety.

Mr Rafferty added: "Confidence has been shattered and the industry needs to provide substantive evidence - not opinion - to its workers demonstrating the airworthiness of the helicopters that are now returning to operations.

"At the same time, Unite is demanding guarantees from employers that workers who feel unable to fly will not be subject to pressure or the threat of dismissal. The industry cannot merely expect the workforce to simply get their boots on and get back to work.

"A phased return of operations must now take place to clear the backlog of workers offshore waiting to get home to their families and those who want to get back to work and earn their keep - but the safety of the workforce must remain paramount throughout this process."

Black box

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the combined voice and flight data recorder from the crashed helicopter, known as the "black box", would be taken to its Farnborough headquarters for analysis.

The AAIB said the Super Puma had appeared to show a "reduction in airspeed accompanied by an increased rate of descent".

The AAIB said it appeared the helicopter had been intact and upright when it entered the water.

However, it was too early to identify a cause of the crash.

The AAIB update reported: "Preliminary information indicates that the approach proceeded normally until approximately three miles from the runway when there was a reduction in airspeed accompanied by an increased rate of descent.

"The helicopter struck the sea approximately two miles west of the runway threshold.

"The evidence currently available suggests that the helicopter was intact and upright when it entered the water.

"It then rapidly inverted and drifted northwards. The helicopter was largely broken up by repeated contact with the rocky shoreline.

"The investigation is ongoing and at this early stage it is not possible to identify the causal factors leading to the accident."

Heavy swell

Much of the wreckage of the Super Puma has been brought ashore.

Sarah DarnleyA new photo of Sarah Darnley, one of the victims, has been issued

Key parts arrived at Lerwick at 04:30 on the support vessel Bibby Polaris.

Divers had known the rough location of the flight data recorder, but heavy swell hampered efforts to retrieve it.

Marine engineering company Ocean Kinetics, which is carrying out the recovery operation, had already recovered the helicopter's gearbox and rotor head.

Four people died when the Super Puma AS332 L2 went down close to shore on a flight to Shetland's Sumburgh Airport from the Borgsten Dolphin rig.

They were Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness, and George Allison, 57, from Winchester.

The crash was the fifth incident involving Super Pumas in the North Sea since 2009.

Aberdeen North MP Frank Doran has called for a public inquiry.

The Super Puma is said to make up about half of the UK offshore industry's 75-strong helicopter fleet.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui


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