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SYRIAN OFFICIAL: CHEMICAL WEAPONS DEAL A 'VICTORY'
BEIRUT (AP) -- A high-ranking Syrian official called the U.S.-Russian agreement on securing Syria's chemical weapons a "victory" for President Bashar Assad's regime, but the U.S. warned Sunday "the threat of force is real" if Damascus fails to carry out the plan.
The comments by Syrian Minister of National Reconciliation Ali Haidar to a Russian state news agency were the first by a senior Syrian government official on the deal struck a day earlier in Geneva. Under the agreement, Syria will provide an inventory of its chemical arsenal within one week and hand over all of the components of its program by mid-2014.
"We welcome these agreements," Haidar was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti agency. "On the one hand, they will help Syrians get out of the crisis, and on the other hand, they averted a war against Syria by removing the pretext for those who wanted to unleash one."
He added: "These agreements are a credit to Russian diplomacy and the Russian leadership. This is a victory for Syria, achieved thanks to our Russian friends."
There has been no official statement from the Syrian government, and it was not clear whether Haidar's comments reflected Assad's thinking.
The deal, hashed out in marathon negotiations between U.S. and Russian diplomats, averts American missile strikes against the Assad regime, although the Obama administration has warned that the military option remains on the table if Damascus does not comply. President Barack Obama said last week the U.S. Navy will maintain its increased presence in the eastern Mediterranean Sea to keep pressure on Syria and to be in position to respond if diplomacy fails.
TWITTER FLIES FROM OBSCURITY TO THE HEIGHT OF FAME
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Pope. President Obama. Queen Elizabeth. Oprah. You.
When Twitter started seven years ago as an obscure medium for geeks, critics dismissed it as an exercise in narcissism. Some thought it would be as intriguing as watching people gaze at their bellybuttons. But it quickly matured into a worldwide messaging service used by everyone from heads of state to revolutionaries to companies trying to hawk products.
Now, Twitter is taking the next critical step in its evolution - selling stock to the public. It promises to be the most hyped and scrutinized initial public offerings since Facebook's Wall Street debut in May 2012. To be successful, the company will need to become an advertising behemoth and prove that the same service that has already helped change the course of history can also make money.
Twitter quietly slipped out news of its plan to go public in a tweet on Thursday afternoon. By the next morning, nearly 14,000 of Twitter's 200 million users had retransmitted the message.
"Twitter epitomizes the revolution of social media ...more than Facebook, more than YouTube," says Fordham University communications professor Paul Levinson, author of "New New Media." "It caters to the immediacy, the equality of all users."
And yet, Twitter really isn't that big. Only about 15 percent of Americans say they've ever used Twitter, according to an August poll by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. That's up from 9 percent in June 2010. At the time of Facebook's IPO, an AP-CNBC poll found that 56 percent of Americans said they had pages on Facebook. Some 17 percent said they used the site several times a day.
Twitter's 200 million global users represent about one-sixth of Facebook's 1.16 billion. If Facebook were a country, it would be the world's third-largest behind China and India. Twitter would clock in at No. 6, edging out Pakistan.
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