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UN report blames gas attack on Syrian regime


first_imgThis file photo taken on 4 April 2017 shows an unconscious Syrian child receiving treatment at a hospital in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, following a suspected toxic gas attack. AFPUnited Nations investigators on Thursday blamed a sarin gas massacre on Bashar al-Assad’s regime, as the United States renewed its warning that he has no role in Syria’s future.The expert panel’s report and tough remarks by US secretary of state Rex Tillerson overshadowed the announcement that UN-sponsored peace talks will resume next month.More than 87 people died on 4 April this year when sarin gas projectiles were fired into Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the Idlib province of northwestern Syria.Images of dead and dying victims, including young children, in the aftermath of the attack provoked global outrage and a US cruise missile strike on a regime air base.Syria and its ally Russia had suggested that a rebel weapon may have detonated on the ground but the UN panel confirmed Western intelligence reports that blamed the regime.“The panel is confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhun on 4 April 2017,” the report, seen by AFP, says.The report will increase pressure on Assad’s regime just as Washington, in the wake of battlefield victories against the Islamic State group, renews calls for him to step down.Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments to reporters came during a visit to Geneva in which he met UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, who is trying to convene a new round of peace talks next month.The secretary said US policy has not changed, but his remarks represented tougher language from an administration that had previously said Assad’s fate is not a priority.“We do not believe there is a future for the Assad regime, the Assad family,” Tillerson said.“I think I’ve said it on a number of occasions. The reign of the Assad family is coming to an end, and the only issue is how should that be brought about.”Russia, which is running a parallel peace process with Iran and Turkey in a series of talks in the Kazakh capital Astana, reacted coolly to Tillerson’s remarks.“I think we should not pre-empt any future for anybody,” said Moscow’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who on Tuesday had vetoed a US attempt to extend the gas attack probe.British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the UN panel’s report had reached a “clear conclusion” and urged the “international community to unite to hold Assad’s regime accountable.”“I call on Russia to stop covering up for its abhorrent ally and keep its own commitment to ensure that chemical weapons are never used again,” he said.Civil warDe Mistura hopes to convene an eighth round of Syrian peace talks between Assad’s regime and an opposition coalition in Geneva from 28 November.These will be focused on drafting a new constitution and holding UN-supervised elections in a country devastated by several overlapping bloody civil conflicts.Assad’s regime has been saved by Russian and Iranian military intervention and he insists that he will not stand down in the face of what he regards as “terrorist” rebels.But Western capitals, the opposition and many of Syria’s Arab neighbors hold Assad’s forces responsible for the bulk of the 330,000 people who have died in the conflict.In addition to chemical weapons attacks against his own people, his government is accused of overseeing the large-scale torture and murder of civilian detainees.The previous US administration often said that Assad’s days were numbered, but then president Barack Obama decided not to use force to punish his chemical weapons attacks.His successor, President Donald Trump, did order one missile strike on a Syrian air base in response to a chemical attack.But US policy has otherwise focused solely on the defeat of the Islamic State jihadist group, driving it out of its last bastions in eastern Syria’s Euphrates valley.Tillerson said, however, that he hopes a way to oust Assad will “emerge” as part of de Mistura’s UN-mediated talks.‘Moment of truth’He argued that the UN Security Council resolution setting up the peace process already contains a procedure to hold elections that Washington does not think Assad can win.“The only thing that changed is when this administration came into office, we took a view that it is not a prerequisite that Assad go before that process starts, rather the mechanism by which Assad departs will likely emerge from that process,” he said.Earlier, de Mistura had told the UN Security Council that with the defeat of the Islamic State, the Syrian peace process had reached a “moment of truth.”“We need to get the parties into real negotiations,” the envoy said.Seven rounds of talks have achieved only incremental progress toward a political deal, with negotiations deadlocked over Assad’s fate.The opposition insists any settlement must provide for a transition away from Assad’s rule but, as government forces make gains, there is little likelihood of a breakthrough.last_img read more


US threatens UN members opposing decision on Jerusalem


first_imgUS president Donald Trump excuses reporters after his remarks to them at the start of a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, US, on 20 December 2017. ReutersUS president Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that vote in favor of a draft United Nations resolution calling for the United States to withdraw its decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us. Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care,” Trump told reporters at the White House.The 193-member UN General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on Thursday – at the request of Arab and Muslim countries – to vote on a draft resolution, which was vetoed by the United States on Monday in the 15-member UN Security Council.The remaining 14 Security Council members voted in favor of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which did not specifically mention the United States or Trump but which expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.”US Ambassador Nikki Haley, in a letter to dozens of UN states on Tuesday seen by Reuters, warned that Trump had asked her to “report back on those countries who voted against us.”She bluntly echoed that call in a Twitter post: “The US will be taking names.”Several senior diplomats said Haley’s warning was unlikely to change many votes in the General Assembly, where such direct, public threats are rare.Miroslav Lajcak, president of the General Assembly, declined to comment on Trump’s remarks, but added: “It’s the right and responsibility of member states to express their views.”A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also declined to comment on Trump’s remarks on Wednesday.“I like the message that Nikki sent yesterday at the United Nations, for all those nations that take our money and then they vote against us at the Security Council, or they vote against us potentially at the assembly,” Trump said.‘BULLYING’Trump abruptly reversed decades of US policy this month when he recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, generating outrage from Palestinians and the Arab world and concern among Washington’s Western allies.He also plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The draft UN resolution calls on all countries to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.A senior diplomat from a Muslim country, speaking on condition of anonymity, said of Haley’s letter: “States resort to such blatant bullying only when they know they do not have a moral or legal argument to convince others.”A senior Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, described it as “poor tactics” at the United Nations “but pretty good for Haley 2020 or Haley 2024,” referring to speculation that Haley might run for higher office.“She’s not going to win any votes in the General Assembly or the Security Council, but she is going to win some votes in the US population,” the Western diplomat said.A senior European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, agreed Haley was unlikely to sway many UN states.“We are missing some leadership here from the US and this type of letter is definitely not helping to establish US leadership in the Middle East peace process,” the diplomat said.Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed in a move never recognised internationally.“The first name that she should write down is Bolivia,” Bolivia’s UN Ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solz said of Haley’s message. “We regret the arrogance and disrespect to the sovereign decision of member states and to multilateralism.”Read More: US warns countries over UN vote on Jerusalemlast_img read more


Bad Times at the El Royale Tops Studios TV Ad Spending


first_imgIn this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Twentieth Century Fox claims the top spot in spending with “Bad Times at the El Royale.”Ads placed for the thriller had an estimated media value of $5.16 million through Sunday for 721 national ad airings on 28 networks. (Spend figures are based on estimates generated from Sept. 17-23. Estimates may be updated after the chart is posted as new information becomes available.) Twentieth Century Fox focused on reaching a male-skewing, football-loving audience, spending heavily across programming including NFL Football, College Football and South Park, and on networks such as NBC, Fox and CBS. Just behind “Bad Times at the El Royale” in second place: Universal Pictures’ “First Man,” which saw 471 national ad airings across 24 networks, with an estimated media value of $5.02 million. $4.37M – Night School $5.02M – First Man TV ad placements for Universal’s “The House With a Clock in Its Walls” (EMV: $4.43 million) and “Night School” ($4.37 million), along with Amazon Studios’ “Life Itself” ($3.98 million), round out the chart. Notably, “First Man” has the best iSpot Attention Index (104) in the ranking, getting 4% fewer interruptions than the average movie ad (interruptions include changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV). ×Actors Reveal Their Favorite Disney PrincessesSeveral actors, like Daisy Ridley, Awkwafina, Jeff Goldblum and Gina Rodriguez, reveal their favorite Disney princesses. Rapunzel, Mulan, Ariel,Tiana, Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine all got some love from the Disney stars.More VideosVolume 0%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcutsplay/pauseincrease volumedecrease volumeseek forwardsseek backwardstoggle captionstoggle fullscreenmute/unmuteseek to %SPACE↑↓→←cfm0-9Next UpJennifer Lopez Shares How She Became a Mogul04:350.5x1x1.25×1.5x2xLive00:0002:1502:15 Impressions: 223,406,767Attention Score: 88.42Attention Index: 68National Airings: 721Networks: 28Most Spend On: NBC, FOXCreative Versions: 7Est. Lifetime TV Spend: $8.77MStudio: Twentieth Century FoxStarted Airing: 09/04/18 $3.98M – Life Itself $4.43M – The House With a Clock in Its Walls Top Movie Commercials by Weekly TV SpendData provided by iSpot.tvcenter_img Popular on Variety Impressions: 212,376,460Attention Score: 92.43Attention Index: 104National Airings: 471Networks: 24Most Spend On: NBC, FOXCreative Versions: 9Est. Lifetime TV Spend: $10.65MStudio: Universal PicturesStarted Airing: 06/08/18 Impressions: 390,547,682Attention Score: 91.93Attention Index: 98National Airings: 1,179Networks: 44Most Spend On: ESPN, NBCCreative Versions: 34Est. Lifetime TV Spend: $21.31MStudio: Universal PicturesStarted Airing: 07/13/18 $5.16M – Bad Times at the El Royale 1 Movie titles with a minimum spend of $100,000 for airings detected between 09/17/2018 and 09/23/2018.* TV Impressions – Total TV ad impressions delivered for the brand or spot.* Attention Score – Measures the propensity of consumers to interrupt an ad play on TV. The higher the score, the more complete views. Actions that interrupt an ad play include changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV.* Attention Index – Represents the Attention of a specific creative or program placement vs the average. The average is represented by a score of 100, and the total index range is from 0 through 200. For example, an attention index of 125 means that there are 25% fewer interrupted ad plays compared to the average.Variety has partnered with iSpot.tv, the real-time TV ad measurement company with attention analytics from more than eight million smart TVs, to bring you this weekly look at what studios are spending to market their movies on TV. Learn more about the iSpot.tv platform and methodology. Impressions: 252,730,499Attention Score: 91.55Attention Index: 94National Airings: 763Networks: 31Most Spend On: NBC, ESPNCreative Versions: 23Est. Lifetime TV Spend: $14.28MStudio: Universal PicturesStarted Airing: 06/05/18 Impressions: 272,807,309Attention Score: 92.01Attention Index: 99National Airings: 738Networks: 22Most Spend On: NBC, CBSCreative Versions: 26Est. Lifetime TV Spend: $13.32MStudio: Amazon StudiosStarted Airing: 03/13/18last_img read more


Tracing the changing face of Indian contemporary art


first_imgFusing together some of the finest works from well established artists, the art exhibition at All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society aims to serve the audience a visual bonanza. Titled Genesis-18, the art show will be held from June 1-7. Genesis-18 is an exposition by 34 artists in a manner that traces a timeline of developments in style, themes and schools of what has emerged today as Indian contemporary art.The striking feature of the works of the participating artists is the manner in which they straddle diverse cultures whilst still voicing the present context of Indian social, cultural and political life. The canvases provide an introspective and sometimes uneasy glimpse into modern India, yet are collectively global in their presentation. This exhibition is a recognition of and respect for the influential antecedents of this genre of art. Clearly, the map has changed as these works demonstrate figurative and abstract, impatient yet unhurried, ancient spirituality fused with modern culture.It is amazing to discern the similarity in the direction of thoughts of all artists, coming from diverse milieus and diverse backgrounds.last_img read more


Hearing loss may up cognitive decline with age Study


first_imgNew York: Hearing impairment is associated with accelerated cognitive decline with age, though the impact of mild hearing loss may be lessened by higher education, researchers say. The findings suggest that those with more serious hearing impairment had worse performance at the initial visit on a pair of commonly used cognitive assessment tests. However, the association of mild hearing impairment with rate of cognitive decline was modified by education, said the researchers at University of California, San Diego. Also Read – Add new books to your shelf”We surmise that higher education may provide sufficient cognitive reserve to counter the effects of mild hearing loss, but not enough to overcome effects of more severe hearing impairment,” said senior author Linda K McEvoy, Professor at the varsity. For the study, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Series A Medical Sciences, the research team tracked 1,164 participants with a mean age 73.5 years of whom 64 per cent were women. All had undergone assessments for hearing accuracy and cognitive function between 1992 and 1996 and had up to five subsequent cognitive assessments at approximately four-year intervals. None used a hearing aid. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveThey found that almost half of the participants had mild hearing impairment, with 16.8 per cent suffering moderate-to-severe hearing loss. The team said that mild hearing impairment was associated with steeper decline among study participants without a college education, but not among those with higher education. Mild hearing impairment was associated with steeper decline among study participants without a college education, but not among those with higher education. Moderate-to-severe hearing impairment was associated with steeper cognitive decline regardless of education level, the researchers said.last_img read more