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FOREIGN POLICY, REUTERS, BBC, RUSSIA TODAY, SANA (Syria)

Worldcrunch

DAMASCUS - American intelligence services say they have intercepted "panicked phone calls" between an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense and a leader of a chemical weapons unit last Wednesday, after the alleged chemical attack took place.

The magazine Foreign Policy, which reported the claim quoting an anonymous intelligence official, says this is the reason why US officials are certain the alleged nerve agent strike was carried by Bashar al-Assad's army.

However, according to Foreign Policy, the intercepted phone call does not establish if the alleged attack was the work of a Syrian officer "overstepping his bounds" or if the order came from senior officials, nor does it explain what the reason would have been for Assad's army to carry out the attack.

"We don't know exactly why it happened," the anonymous intelligence official said to the magazine. "We just know it was pretty (fu*#ing) stupid."

Late Tuesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem reiterated that the army had not used chemical weapons. He added, "Syria has immediately agreed to the UN requests and there was no delay, and I say to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that we are not obstructing UN inspectors' work." He said the US did not want a political solution because "Israel does not want this solution, but rather it wants the continuation of violence and terrorism."

The American intelligence reports come as the United States, backed by France and United Kingdom, are stepping up their preparations for a possible strike on military targets.

Syrian National Coalition official Ahmad Ramadan told AFP: "There is no precise timing... but one can speak of an imminent international intervention against the regime. It's a question of days and not weeks."

A branch of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaeda linked group that is among the rebels fighting in Syria, threatened the Syrian government with a "Volcano of Revenge," in response to the chemical attack, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile, the UN chemical weapons inspectors resumed their investigations on Wednesday morning. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that the team of experts needed "time to do its job" and "to establish the facts." David Cameron announced on Twitter that Britain would put a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council "condemning the chemical weapons attack by Assad and authorising necessary measures to protect civilians."

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Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

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Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

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