The feasibility of an effort to destroy the Syrian government’s full chemical arsenal in less than a year could hinge on whether international authorities succeed in negotiating short-term truces between the country’s warring factions, the head of a global chemical-arms agency said on Wednesday.
Ahmet Üzümcü, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, told reporters the mid-2014 goal could be achievable “if some temporary ceasefires can be established” in the Syrian civil war, now in its third year.
“Much depends on the situation on the ground, that’s why we have urged all parties in Syria to be cooperative,” he added at a news conference in The Hague, Netherlands. “The elimination is in the interest of all.”
He said disarmament personnel are scheduled within weeks to travel to more than 20 locations in the Middle Eastern country, the Associated Press reported.
Malik Ellahi, OPCW head of government relations and political affairs, said Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government transferred a significant portion of its chemical-warfare stockpile away from opposition-controlled areas.
He said Damascus to date has indicated “that most of the sites and facilities that we need to inspect are in government control.”
International chemical-weapons auditors “will only go and conduct [their] mission” with assurance “that security on a given day, on a given schedule is provided,” Ellahi added.
Syrian state media on Tuesday aired a video said to show disarmament personnel operating in the country, Agence France-Presse reported.
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"Even as he acknowledged the importance of an open internet, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday set his telecom agency on a course to scrap the tough, broad net neutrality protections imposed by the Obama administration. During a major speech in Washington, D.C., Pai outlined the need for a total revision of existing federal rules that seek to prevent companies like AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon from blocking or slowing down web content, including the movie or music offerings from their competitors." Separately, Pai told Reason's Nick Gillespie that the Clinton Administration "basically got it right when it came to digital infrastructure. We were not living in a digital dystopia in the years leading up to 2015."
The White House on Wednesday laid out its plan for tax reform, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying it would be "the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country." The tax code would be broken down into just three tax brackets, with the highest personal income tax rate cut from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. The plan would also slash the tax rate on corporations and small businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent. "The White House plan is a set of principles with few details, but it’s designed to be the starting point of a major push to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive tax reform package this year," said National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement today established the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE), as called for in a presidential executive order from January. The new office's website states that its staff "will be guided by a singular, straightforward mission—to ensure victims and their families have access to releasable information about a perpetrator and to offer assistance explaining the immigration removal process."