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Watchdog investigates chemical attack in Syria

THE HAGUE: The global watchdog working to eradicate chemical weapons is investigating reports of a suspected poison gas attack on the Syrian rebel-held town of Douma, its head said Monday. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons "made a preliminary analysis of the reports of the alleged use of chemical weapons immediately after they were issued," said director general Ahmet Uzumcu. A fact-finding team was now gathering more information "to establish whether chemical weapons were used," he added in a…

Europe’s safety watchdog says laxatives may increase cancer risk

LONDON: European food safety officials issued a warning on Tuesday about potential health problems, including an increased risk of some cancers, linked to long-term use of laxatives such as senna and rhubarb extract. Laxatives often contain hydroxyanthracenes, a class of substances found in roots, outer leaves, seed and bark of plants such as aloe, rhubarb or senna. Read More: ‘Inflammatory’ diet linked to higher risk of colon cancer Evidence from animal studies suggests some of these substances can cause cancer of the…

Facebook fined 150,000 euros by French data watchdog

Facebook has been fined 150,000 euros ($166,000) by France's data protection watchdog for failing to prevent its users' data being accessed by advertisers. Watchdog CNIL said its fine - which was imposed on both Facebook Inc and Facebook Ireland - was part of a wider European investigation also being carried out in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany into some of Facebook's practices. The 150,000 euro fine is small in the context of the company, which has quarterly revenue of about $8 billion and a stock market…

Saudi writer jailed for participating in demonstrations, links with foreign media

DUBAI: A Saudi writer has been sentenced to seven years in prison for offences including having contact with foreign journalists, a rights group said on Thursday, part of what activists call "an intensified crackdown". The Gulf Centre for Human Rights said Nadhir al-Majid, 40, received the sentence last week from the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh. Rights monitors have criticised the practice of trying activists in such courts, which handle "terrorism" cases. "Reports have confirmed that the writer was alone…

US watchdog questions money spent on Afghan ‘ghost’ soldiers

KABUL: A U.S. government watchdog is pressing the Pentagon to explain reports of tens of thousands of "ghost" soldiers and police on the payrolls of the Afghan security forces, which are heavily funded by international donors. The U.S. government has allocated more than $68 billion (54.59 billion pounds) since 2002 to help support Afghan security forces battling Taliban insurgents and other militants. The United States and its NATO allies pledged earlier this year to provide around $5 billion per year until at least 2020…