Last Wednesday, in the hours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people. Those conversations were overheard by U.S. intelligence services, The Cable has learned. And that is the major reason why American officials now say they’re certain that the attacks were the work of the Bashar al-Assad regime — and why the U.S. military is likely to attack that regime in a matter of days.

But the intercept raises questions about culpability for the chemical massacre, even as it answers others: Was the attack on Aug. 21 the work of a Syrian officer overstepping his bounds? Or was the strike explicitly directed by senior members of the Assad regime? “It’s unclear where control lies,” one U.S. intelligence official told The Cable. “Is there just some sort of general blessing to use these things? Or are there explicit orders for each attack?” 

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How Lobbyists Will Keep You Hooked on VitaminsHow Lobbyists Will Keep You Hooked on Vitamins


How Lobbyists Will Keep You Hooked on VitaminsHow Lobbyists Will Keep You Hooked on Vitamins

No matter how many studies show you’re wasting money and possibly harming your health, dietary supplement makers are selling their own version of science—and reality.

This week, the Annals of Internal Medicine—one of the world’s leading medical journals—published three studies evaluating the benefits of vitamins and dietary supplements.

The first study determined whether healthy people who received daily multivitamins had a lesser incidence of cancer or heart disease and whether they lived longer. The study was quite large, involving about 400,000 adults. Study participants were randomly divided into two groups: One group received daily multivitamins; the other didn’t. The authors found no difference in any medical outcome.

The second study examined about 6,000 men older than 65 to see whether daily multivitamins improved cognitive performance or verbal memory. The group that received multivitamins was indistinguishable from the group that didn’t.

Surviving Life in a ‘70s Sex Commune


Surviving Life in a ‘70s Sex Commune

Three decades after growing up in a European free-love commune, Paul-Julien Robert plunged into the film archives to make the extraordinary documentary, My Fathers, My Mother and Me.

Paul-Julien Robert grew up on a country estate with dozens of adults; but he had no idea which one was his father. In the European free-love commune, where he was born in the late 1970s, pretty much all of the men had slept with his mother, any of them could be his dad.

Founded as a utopia where possessions, childcare, and love were communal, traditional family structures were banned. Paul-Julien was an unwitting participant in a social experiment that would end in police raids and the commune’s architect jailed for having sex with minors.