A bill in California that would require soft drinks to have health warning labels failed to clear a key committee on Tuesday. Under the measure, sugary drinks sold in the most populous US state would have to carry a label with a warning that sugar contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. But on Tuesday it failed to win enough votes in the health commission of the California State Assembly, the Los Angeles Times reported. "We're in the midst of a diabetes and obesity epidemic that is wreaking havoc on the public's health and driving up healthcare costs," said Senator Bill Monning, the bill's author, in remarks before the Assembly Health committee, according to the newspaper.
Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Hamas slammed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's support for security coordination with Israel on Wednesday, as the Jewish state pursued a manhunt for three teens believed kidnapped by the Islamist movement. "President Abbas's statements on security coordination with Israel are unjustified, harmful to Palestinian reconciliation... and a psychological blow to the thousands of Palestinian prisoners suffering a slow death in the occupation's jails," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
Kirkuk (Iraq) (AFP) - The rapid shift to Kurdish control in Iraq's ethnically mixed oil city of Kirkuk is a step toward a long-held dream for Kurds but has sparked fears among other groups. Kurdish forces took control of Kirkuk and other disputed territory as Sunni Arab militants pressed an offensive that has seen them seize a large chunk of Iraq and sweep federal security forces aside. The Kurds' internal security service, the asayesh, have deployed alongside police in Kirkuk itself. Holding Kirkuk is a major step on that road but, for Arabs and Turkmen, the city changing hands is a cause for concern, not celebration.
Chemical weapons such as chlorine have likely been used in a "systematic manner" in Syria, according to a report by a team from the world's watchdog investigating alleged attacks there. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) mission said evidence "lends credence to the view that toxic chemicals, most likely pulmonary irritating agents such as chlorine, have been used in a systematic manner in a number of attacks," according to a copy of the report obtained by AFP. President Bashar al-Assad's regime and rebels have both accused the other of using chemical agents, including chlorine, in the bloody uprising that began in March 2011 and in spite of Damascus promising to hand over all its chemical arms.