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Today’s Top Stories
1. UN finally released its findings on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The report was clear that chemical weapons were used but vague about who used them, even as all evidence pointed to the Assad government. That duality was expressed perfectly by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
“The report makes for chilling reading,” Mr. Ban told a news conference after he briefed the Security Council. “The findings are beyond doubt and beyond the pale. This is a war crime.”
Mr. Ban declined to ascribe blame, saying that responsibility was up to others, but he expressed hope that the attack would become a catalyst for a new diplomatic determination at the United Nations to resolve the Syrian conflict, which has left more than 100,000 people dead and millions displaced.
2. Outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren told The Jerusalem Post that Israel favors Assad’s ouster because of his ties with Iran. “We always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran,” he said, even if the other bad guys were al-Qaida.
3. Washington Post poll shows 79% of Americans support the government’s effort for a diplomatic solution to the Syria chemical weapons issue – despite only 30% saying they were confident that Syria would give up its chemical weapons.
4. See our latest infographic about how false information spreads.
Iran and its Nuclear Threat
• Rouhani hinted that he may be willing to close one of Iran’s nuclear reactors if the West eases sanctions. The announcement may come in his speech at the UN General Assembly opening.
• The Rouhani charm offensive in Iran continues, this time by removing the blocks on Facebook and Twitter for Iranian users.
Several hard-line politicians have made public comments in recent days calling Facebook “a Zionist tool,” but the fact that it was accessible in Iran on Monday suggested that the censorship council, which Mr. Rouhani heads, might have decided otherwise.
AP, however, reported that the opening was a “glitch” and all the blocks were restored a few hours later.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Some Arab students in eastern Jerusalem can choose between the Israeli curriculum or the Palestinian curriculum at school.
Israeli officials say that seven East Jerusalem municipality schools are offering the option of taking the Israeli curriculum, up from two last year. The lessons will include more Hebrew, more science and changes in civics and history instruction. Municipality officials say the step comes at the initiative of Palestinian parents concerned with facilitating their children’s acceptance in the Israeli job market and universities.
“The Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Hamas may oppose this, but parents know that the future of their children is in Israel,” says David Koren, the municipality’s adviser on East Jerusalem. Most pupils in East Jerusalem continue to study the Palestinian curriculum.
• NY Times public editor, Margaret Sullivan explains why the paper didn’t cover news broken by The Guardian that the NSA shared raw intelligence with Israel. The paper’s managing editor, Dean Baquet simply didn’t deem it important enough to cover.
But then she adds her own take on the story:
I disagree, however, with Mr. Baquet’s conclusion on this one. I find it to be a significant development and something that Times readers should not have to chase around the Web to find out about. They should be able to read it in The Times.
• BBC to launch a review of all its news coverage to ensure its viewers are pleased with its reporting. We eagerly await the results of its review.
• Turkey shot down a Syrian helicopter that strayed into Turkish territory. Syrian officials accused Turkey of intentionally seeking escalation in the border region.
• Does Israel have chemical weapons? The Christian Science Monitor wants to know.
• Popular television program Homeland announced plans to move filming out of Israel because of the concern about the Syria situation.
• Local conservationists lament the number of birds tagged with tracking devices capture by Arab governments as suspected spies.