Selena Gomez’s Visa Denied By Russia—reportedly Over Gay Rights Stance

epa03871453 A rescue worker climbs across a line to help trapped people in Chailpanchingo, Mexico, 17 September 2013. According to media reports, Hurricane Ingrid was downgraded to a tropical storm but continued to pour heavy rain over eastern Mexico, where it killed at least 34 people.  EPA/LENIN OCAMPO TORRES

Israeli mayor wants to keep city Jewish now and forever William Booth and Ruth Eglash He would rather cut off his arm than build an Arab school. Mosques and churches are unwelcome, too. Tim Craig and Kevin Sieff Release designed to jump-start peace process in neighboring Afghanistan. Anthony Faiola As the citys major Crossrail project progresses, archaeologists unearth what lies in its macabre past. Who will pay for Ukraines default, which will become inevitable? Glazyev asked. One has to be ready to pay for that. Russia is opposing Kievs plans to sign a free-trade and political association agreement with the 28-member bloc in November, seeking instead to lure Kiev into a Moscow-led economic union. It upped the pressure on Ukraine over the summer by banning the products of a major confectionary maker in Russia and by temporarily halting some Ukrainian imports at its border, dealing a painful blow to Ukrainian business. Former Economy Minister and confectionary magnate Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Russia for banning his products from Russian stores in order to exert political pressure on Ukraine, saying Moscow had previously resorted to similar tactics when dealing with other dissenting former Soviet republics. I am 100 percent sure that nobody either in this forum, nor in the world, would strongly believe that Georgian mineral water or Moldovan wine or Ukrainian chocolate or Lithuanian cheese or Belarusian milk products are really harmful for the health of the Russian consumer. This is simply not true, Poroshenko said. EU officials have urged Kiev to implement key reforms and sign the EU deal in November, saying Ukraine belongs with the West. The key obstacle to the deal is the incarceration of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, whose verdict the West has condemned as politically motivated and is pressing hard for her to be released in order for the deal to be signed. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski exhorted Ukraine to resist the Kremlin pressure and sign the agreement in November, citing Polands success in joining the bloc. Weve done it, so can you, Sikorski said.

Promoters for a pair of concerts the “Come & Get It” crooner had scheduled in the country for later this month have told The Moscow Times that Russian officials have turned down her visa request, forcing her to scrap the gigs. Organizers cited Russia’s new anti-gay law as one of the reasons for Gomez’s rejection, since Russian authorities have been tightening travel restrictions for performers who speak out in favor of gay rights. The 21-year-old singer-actress was supposed to play St. Petersburg’s Ice Palace on Sept. 23 and Moscow’s Olimiisky stadium on Sept. 25. A rep for Gomez now tells E! News she’s not going to Russia. The news that Russian officials rebuffed Justin Bieber ‘s ex is no doubt disappointing to her fans in the former communist nation. But to U.S.-based author and gay rights activist, John Becker, who launched a petition on calling on Gomez to stand up for Russia’s LGBT crowd when she took the stage there, the government’s decision was a sign the administration of President Vladimir Putin is feeling the heat over its anti-gay policies. NEWS: Lady Gaga slams Russia’s “criminal” attitude toward the LGBT community “This cancellation of Selena Gomez’s visa shows that the Russian government is sensitive and on the defense, and shows that the pressure from people all around the world and the backlash against these laws is strong,” Becker told E! News in a statement. “They’re afraid to have someone like Selena Gomez come in and potentially use her platform to advance LGBT rights.” His petition has so far gained 8.422 signatures as of press time. The visa denial comes after Madonna and Lady Gaga gave very public shout-outs during their 2012 shows expressing solidarity with Russia’s LGBT community. In the wake of an outcry from anti-gay politicians, the government subsequently threatened the Material Girl and Mother Monster with potential prosecution for allegedly failing to obtain the appropriate visas to enter and perform in Russia.

Russia to show ‘evidence’ of chemical weapons used by Syrian rebels

Britain, France and the United States said it confirmed Syria’s government, not rebels as Russia has suggested, was behind it. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday the investigation was incomplete without examination of evidence from other sources and that suspicions of chemical use after August 21 should also be investigated. Ryabkov said Syrian authorities had given him alleged evidence of chemical weapons use by Assad’s opponents. The stark disagreement over blame for the attack may complicate discussions among security council members Russia, China, the United states, Britain and France over a western-drafted resolution to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons. “We are surprised by Russia’s attitude because they are calling into question not the report, but the objectivity of the inspectors,” French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said in Paris on Wednesday. “I don’t think anybody can call into question inspectors that have been appointed by the UN,” said Fabius, who met Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday and said several aspects of the UN report clearly pointed to Syrian government involvement. Meeting Assad Russia has been Assad’s most powerful backer during the conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people since 2011, delivering weapons and with China blocking western efforts to use the security council’s clout to pressure his government. Moscow argues that the danger emanates from rebels, many of whom harbour militant Islamist ambitions for Syria that could ultimately pose a threat both to Russia, which is fighting against Islamist militants on its southern fringe, and the west. In his meeting with Ryabkov, Assad voiced appreciation “for Russia’s stances in support of Syria in the face of the vicious attack and … terrorism which is backed by western, regional and Arab forces”, Syrian state news agency SANA said. The draft resolution is intended to support a US-Russian deal reached on Saturday calling for Syria to account for its chemical weapons within a week and for their destruction by mid-2014. The accord was based on a Russian proposal accepted by Assad. The deal halted efforts by US President Barack Obama to win Congressional approval for military action to punish Assad for the gas attack, which the United States says killed more than 1,400 people in rebel-held areas. US secretary of state John Kerry called on Tuesday for a resolution with the strength to force compliance from Assad. Diplomats said the current US-British-French draft was written so that its provisions were under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which covers security council authority to enforce its decisions with measures such as sanctions or force.