Syria deal shines light on suspected Israeli chemical weapons program

Israel signed the landmark international treaty banning the production or use of chemical weapons two decades ago, but it is among a handful of nations that have never ratified the deal. While foreign experts widely believe that Israel likely possesses a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, Israeli officials refuse to confirm or deny the existence of any such arsenal.

They say the key issue right now is Syria, not Israel.

In a radio interview Monday, former Defence Minister Amir Peretz declined to discuss the country’s chemical weapons capabilities but said the international community’s attitude toward Israel is “different” from Syria.

“It’s clear to everyone that (Israel) is a democratic, responsible regime,” he told Israel Radio. “I very much hope and am certain that the international community will not make this a central question and we will maintain the status quo.”

Israel has been similarly vague about foreign reports of a nuclear arsenal, a policy of ambiguity aimed at deterring its enemies. But following the weekend deal between the U.S. and Russia to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons by mid-2014, voices have emerged calling on the government to take similar steps.

“I do believe that the Israeli government should be open about this issue, should say what arsenal, if any, it does have and should strive for an international agreement to keep all these kinds of weapons outside of the Middle East,” said opposition lawmaker Dov Khenin.

The liberal daily Haaretz wrote in an editorial Monday that the chemical disarmament of Syria gives Israel an opportunity to finally ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“It would be a pity if in the future Israel finds itself in the position of Syria — forced to sign the convention under international pressure,” the newspaper said.

via Syria deal shines light on suspected Israeli chemical weapons program.

#JFDI: Today we’ll reach 16 million online for #NoKidHungry

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JFDI

I first heard the phrase, “Just Focus, Do It,” at Rapport Leadership. You’ve probably seen it in my Facebook status updates or tweets as, “JFDI” (although, my version of the acronym varies slightly).

Either way, JFDI is a verb to me—it means taking action without making excuses. And, of course, it’s perfect for a hashtag.

The power of focused intention combined with bold action will make huge changes in your life. And, a community that collectively focuses its intentions and takes bold action can change the world.

Over 16 million children in America face an unnecessary struggle with hunger. This is inexcusable. Our nation has plenty of food, and we have the solutions to this problem. What we need collectively is more people with the will to JFDI.

Right now, all across this nation, over 9,000 restaurants are participating in the Dine Out for No Kid Hungry. Our collective goal is to raise…

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Weekend Gun Report: September 13-15, 2013 – NYTimes.com

2-year-old Kyle Moses was shot in the head and killed by his father, who was upset the child’s mother was with another man, in Tununak, Alaska, early Friday. A 9-year-old boy was shot in the chest and wounded while playing in his grandmother’s backyard in Pine Lawn, Mo., Friday night. A 9-year-old boy was shot in the arm as he and two other boys played with a gun in Tampa, Fla., Friday.

via Weekend Gun Report: September 13-15, 2013 – NYTimes.com.

A $40 billion SNAP cut isn’t belt-tightening. It’s life-threatening. | National Women’s Law Center

Tighten our belts? You have to be kidding.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is expected to introduce a bill that could come to a vote this week, which would cut SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) benefits for 4 to 6 million struggling Americans. SNAP provides critical assistance to millions of people, mostly women and children, to stave off hunger. In 2011, SNAP lifted the incomes of almost 3.9 million people above the poverty line (including 1.1 million women and 1.7 million children). And in a nation where nearly 50 million Americans suffer from food insecurity annually – including 15.8 million children – SNAP benefits are tangible, direct, and life-saving. But they’re already modest, averaging less than $1.40 per person per meal.

via A $40 billion SNAP cut isn’t belt-tightening. It’s life-threatening. | National Women’s Law Center.

Afghan Women’s Writing Project | One Day Is Today

Afghan Women’s Writing Project | One Day Is Today.

One Day Is Today

If loud laughs and talk are bad for a girl,
I will keep laughing, loudly.
No matter what people think,
I will wear what I wish.
No matter how people scold and whisper,
I will raise my voice against violence and inequality—
No matter if I lose my life in this way
I will show people my power and ability,
and never, ever stop, until we end the pent-up
frustration caused by those who think women are only
good for staying home
and giving birth.

I am confident my unprecedented steps
will change minds
and give me respect as a human one day;
one day is today,
today gives me momentum to move on
without fear
and free myself  from barriers
standing against our rights
in the name of religion.

Today, we are not alone;
the world hears our voices.
Today, more than one million girls
are going to schools and universities.
Today, they are ready to fight for their rights,
to study, to work, to pick their own partner
and make life’s decisions.
No matter what challenges I face,
I will fight, until I get my rights;
I will seek, until I reach my goals,
No matter what obstacles I encounter.
I will break all barriers ahead.
I will keep moving in my own way.
No matter how people judge me.

By Sitara B.

Merkel Campaign Event Visited by Mini Drone – SPIEGEL ONLINE

A Christian Democrat (CDU) campaign event taking place on Sunday in the eastern city of Dresden was interrupted when a miniature drone started circling above the audience. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière, who were on the stage alongside several other CDU politicians, looked on with amusement as the 40-centimeter (16-inch) aircraft came crashing down at their feet.

via Merkel Campaign Event Visited by Mini Drone – SPIEGEL ONLINE.