Moscow said an international task force is poised to re-enter Syria on Wednesday to look further at allegations of chemical-weapons use in the country’s civil war, Reuters reported.
Russia last week criticized the initial U.N. findings that nerve gas was used in an Aug. 21 attack, which have widely been seen to implicate its Damascus ally in that release over a Damascus suburb.
Moscow, though, is “pleased” that the investigators now are expected to probe “other episodes” of possible chemical-weapon use, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday. Russia has joined Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government in blaming such strikes on rebel forces.
States parties to an international chemical-arms ban on Tuesday were consulting on a “draft decision” for dismantling Syria’s chemical arsenal, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons stated. The 41-nation OPCW Executive Council was due on Tuesday to vote on a U.S.-Russian blueprint for monitoring and destroying the stockpile, Reuters reported.
Envoys said the U.N. Security Council could act as soon as Thursday to pass a measure backing the OPCW text. Russia, though, has continued opposing calls by Western governments for the Security Council to endorse possible punitive action for any noncompliance by Damascus.
“There can be no talk of any automatic application of sanctions, let alone the use of force,” Reuters quoted Ryabkov as saying on Tuesday.
Specialists said eliminating the weapons by next June — as the U.S.-Russian disarmament plan demands — would be a challenge for the international community, the New York Times reported on Monday.
“If you want to act quickly, the technical decisions have to be made now, while the diplomats are working,” said Lenny Siegel, head of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight. “This is difficult stuff and it’s costly but the technologies exist — though most people don’t know that.”
Meanwhile, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on Monday rejected a Syrian rebel assertion that it had taken custody of chemical arms from Syria, the Daily Star reported.
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Investigations are never far from the Clintons, and here's another: At the behest of "dozens" of Republican lawmakers, the IRS is opening a fraud investigation into the Clinton Foundation."The move signals a shift from the IRS's announcement last year that it would not look into allegations of financial irregularities at the well-connected charity."
"Bickering commissioners, ineffective managers and lousy internal communication rank among the top reasons why the Federal Election Commission" has some of the worst morale in the federal government. That's the conclusion of an inspector general's report, which put "the most blame on the FEC’s six commissioners: three Democratic appointees and three Republican appointees who have regularly criticized one another and frequently (but not exclusively) deadlocked on high-profile political issues before them."
On Tuesday, Dennis Williams, the president of the United Auto Workers, said that Hillary Clinton has told him that she will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement if elected president. Trade deals, especially NAFTA, have played a prominent role in the campaign, with Clinton receiving heat both from her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders and GOP nominee Donald Trump. The Clinton campaign did not comment on Williams's comments, though that didn't stop the Trump campaign from weighing in. Hillary Clinton "will never renegotiate Bill Clinton's NAFTA," said Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser to Trump.
"The Labor Department announced Tuesday that federal contractors had shorted 674 Senate cafeteria workers to the tune of $1 million. Two companies, Restaurant Associates and its subcontractor, Personnel Plus, violated the law by misclassifying workers into lower-paying positions and having them work off the clock, the agency said." The department is looking into whether to renew the contracts.
"American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have 'high confidence' that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence. But intelligence agencies have cautioned that they are uncertain whether the electronic break-in at the committee's computer systems was intended as fairly routine cyberespionage—of the kind the United States also conducts around the world—or as part of an effort to manipulate the 2016 presidential election." WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange "has made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the presidency."