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August 31, 2013 8:47 AM Putin skeptical of Syria weapons claims and other morning headlines

By Samuel Knight

*Vladimir Putin broke his silence on the Ghouta crisis after UN weapons inspectors left the country today. Unsurprisingly, he isn’t convinced that Assad’s side has used chemical weapons, calling the logic behind the alleged move to be “utter nonsense” when the rebels are on the backfoot.

“That is why I am convinced that [the chemical attack] is nothing more than a provocation by those who want to drag other countries into the Syrian conflict, and who want to win the support of powerful members of the international arena, especially the United States,” Putin told journalists in Vladivostok.

*In other MENA crisis news, at least six supporters of Mohammed Morsi were killed in Egypt on Friday and another 190 were injured, as demonstrations against the coup continue.

*Richard Trumka doesn’t think Republicans are going to shut down the government over Congressional budget negotiations this September, according to The Hill.

“Some of their best political people, their best donors are going to get hurt in the process. It hurts the economy. And I don’t think they’re going to do it,” the AFL-CIO boss said.

But is he making a mistake assuming Republicans will act rationally? Or could donors, by threatening to finance Tea Party primaries, see long-term tax benefits in harming the economy in the short run?

*The relative silence on the Hill after the DOJ announced guidelines respecting marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington is seen as “progress” by Jared Polis. Drug warrior weed bashing hasn’t always been a political risk, he pointed out.

*Twitter’s lead attorney Alex Macgillivray, known for championing free speech and privacy, is stepping down. He tweeted the news yesterday afternoon saying he would continue to advise the company.

His replacement, Vijaya Gadde, was immediately praised by former White House CTO Andrew McLaughlin, who called her “vastly skillful, experienced, [and] principled” — a message that was retweeted by Macgillivray in what one can only assume was an endorsement.

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.

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