Syria's alleged gas attacks fail to break U.N. stalemate, and more from the Slatest PM.

Slatest PM: Syria's Alleged Gas Attacks Do Little to Break U.N. Stalemate

Slatest PM: Syria's Alleged Gas Attacks Do Little to Break U.N. Stalemate

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Aug. 21 2013 5:29 PM

Slatest PM: How Syria Is Getting Away With Mass Murder

Syrian rebels fighting pro-regime forces gather along a road in Syria's eastern town of Deir Ezzor, on August 17, 2013

Photo by Abo Shuja/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.

Alleged Chemical Attacks: New York Times: "The Syrian government pounded rebellious areas east of the capital, Damascus, early Wednesday, and antigovernment activists said some rockets included chemical weapons that killed scores of people, and possibly hundreds. Photographs and videos showed rooms full of lifeless bodies laid out in rows, some wrapped in white cloths, others lines up in mass graves. Some showed victims staring and motionless, others twitching uncontrollably. The Syrian government vociferously denied mounting any chemical attack... . A team of weapons investigators sent by the United Nations arrived in the country on Sunday to begin looking into several other reports of chemical weapons. The total death toll remained unclear, although the images, along with testimonies provided by antigovernment activists and medical personnel, indicated at least scores of victims, including men, women and children. Some opposition estimates went as high as 1,000."


International Stalemate: Reuters: "With the dead estimated at between 500 and 1,300, what would be the world's most lethal chemical weapons attack since the 1980s prompted an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York. While U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed shock, immediate international action is likely to be limited, with the divisions among major powers that have crippled efforts to quell two and a half years of civil war still much in evidence. Russia hastened to back up denials from the administration of President Bashar al-Assad by saying it looked like a rebel 'provocation' to discredit him. ... France, Britain, the United States and others called for an immediate on-site investigation by U.N. chemical weapons inspectors who arrived in the Syrian capital only this week. Moscow, urging an 'objective' inquiry, said the very presence of that team suggested government forces were not to blame."

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NSA Release: Associated Press: "The National Security Agency declassified three secret U.S. court opinions Wednesday showing how it scooped up as many as 56,000 emails and other communications by Americans with no connection to terrorism annually over three years, how it revealed the error to the court and changed how it gathered Internet communications. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper authorized the release. The opinions show that when the NSA reported its inadvertent gathering of American-based Internet traffic to the court in 2011, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ordered the agency to find ways to limit what it collects and how long it keeps it."

Manning Sentenced: Washington Post: "A military judge on Wednesday morning sentenced Army Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. Manning, 25, was convicted last month of multiple charges, including violations of the Espionage Act for copying and disseminating the documents while serving as an intelligence analyst at a forward operating base in Iraq. He faced up to 90 years in prison. Manning is required to serve one-third of the sentence, minus three and half years of time served, before he is eligible for parole. That will be in eight years when he is 33. ... The government had asked the judge to sentence Manning to 60 years."


Ga. Update: Associated Press: "Emergency dispatchers were told that the suspect in a shooting and standoff at a suburban Atlanta school was off his medication and he thought he should have gone to a mental hospital instead of a school. Michael Brandon Hill relayed messages to DeKalb County emergency dispatchers through a bookkeeper at McNair Learning Academy in Decatur, Ga. after shooting at police Tuesday afternoon. In a 911 tape that was released Wednesday, school bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff spoke for the 20-year-old Hill. She told dispatchers that Hill said he had nothing to live for and wanted police to call the DeKalb County probation office. Hill was arrested in March for making terroristic threats in Henry County and was sentenced to probation."

Atlanta Heart Transplant: NBC News: "A 15-year-old Atlanta boy received a new heart on Tuesday evening, just 10 days after his family complained he was unfairly rejected for a transplant because of past failure to take medicine and show up for doctors' appointments, local media reported.  Anthony Stokes, who has a weakened, enlarged heart that cannot pump blood efficiently, could have less than six months to live without a transplant, his family said last week. A few days later, the hospital reversed course and added him to its waiting list.  Stokes received a heart transplant Tuesday, a family spokesman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was in the intensive care unit of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Wednesday, the hospital said."

A Few More Quick Hits From Slate

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