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U.N. Report Left Out Damning Details on Syria Chemical Attack

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, New York Times

U.N. Report Left Out Damning Details on Syria Chemical Attack

At least twice this year, the Syrian military fired Iranian-made artillery shells filled with a chlorinelike substance that oozed poison slowly, giving victims just a few minutes to escape. In another attack, Syrian forces dropped a chemical bomb on the top-floor balcony of an apartment building, killing 49 people, including 11 children. Their skin turned blue. These details and others blaming Syria for atrocities in eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, were uncovered by a United Nations commission investigating and documenting possible war crimes in the 7-year-old conflict. But when the commission issued a report Wednesday, the details were omitted.

As Kim Ends Beijing Visit, China and North Korea Craft New Messages

Propaganda departments in China and North Korea were in full swing Wednesday as Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, concluded a two-day tour of China that painted the once-reclusive autocrat as a forward-looking leader. After meeting with President Xi Jinping and briefing him on the summit with President Donald Trump in Singapore last week, Kim was portrayed in the Chinese state media as eager to learn how to turn a developing nation into a global superpower. In North Korea, a propaganda machine that for decades turned out anti-American slogans and that denigrated South Koreans struck a new conciliatory tone, publishing posters this week that heralded unity on the Korean Peninsula.

Hungary Passes ‘Stop Soros’ Law Criminalizing Aid to Migrants

The Hungarian Parliament approved a package of laws Wednesday that criminalizes the act of helping unauthorized migrants and creates a parallel court system that some fear will be used for politically sensitive cases, accelerating efforts by Prime Minister Viktor Orban to transform the country into what he calls an “illiberal democracy." The government named the legislation the “Stop Soros” bill, after the Hungarian-American financier and philanthropist George Soros, who has helped Hungarian rights organizations. Orban has been Europe’s most prominent critic of open-door migration since the Continent’s refugee crisis in 2015, putting him at odds with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

Taliban Kill Dozens of Afghan Soldiers, as Cease-Fires Give Way to Violence

At least 30 Afghan soldiers were killed in a single Taliban attack in the northwest of the country Wednesday, officials said, indicating an end to a brief lull in violence after both sides agreed to unilateral cease-fires. Taliban fighters launched heavy attacks on three army outposts in the Bala Murghab district of Badghis province, said the provincial governor. The initial attacks were repelled, but the reinforcements the government sent in were hit by roadside bombs, he said. Saleh Mohammed Khan, a local police commander in Bala Murghab, said at least 30 soldiers were killed and two outposts were overrun.

Pope Criticized Family Separations Before Policy’s Reversal

Before President Donald Trump’s about-face Wednesday, Pope Francis criticized the administration’s separation of migrant children from their parents, saying in an interview earlier this week that “populism is not the solution” to a migration crisis that is transforming global politics. In a rare sit-down interview, Francis told Reuters that “I am on the side” of the United States’ Catholic bishops’ conference, which called taking children from their parents “immoral” and “contrary to our Catholic values.” Francis has been a consistent, and increasingly lonely, advocate for migrants in a decreasingly tolerant globe.

Canadians Brace for Cultural Changes as Marijuana Becomes

For one of Canada’s largest legal cannabis companies, the vote in Parliament this week to legalize recreational marijuana use represents a broad opportunity to develop new products, including marijuana infused drinks. But people across Canada were grappling with the legalization of recreational marijuana, which represents one of the most sweeping changes in Canadian culture since the end of Prohibition. Many questions remain, including whether law enforcement will be able to tame a black market for cannabis that has been thriving in the shadows and whether consumers will reject smoking government-approved joints.

Haley Blames Watchdog Groups for U.S. Withdrawal From U.N. Rights Council

The Trump administration rebuked human rights watchdog organizations Wednesday, blaming them in part for its decision this week to withdraw from the U.N. Human Rights Council. In a scathing letter, Nikki R. Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, criticized the organizations for opposing her failed push last month for a General Assembly vote on changes to the council, the world’s most important human rights body. “You put yourself on the side of Russia and China, and opposite the United States, on a key human rights issue,” she wrote to 18 organizations that criticized her attempt.

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