WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's administration insists that Syrian President Bashar Assad's government carried out a chemical weapons attack last week against his own people, the latest turn in an ongoing conflict in the country. And Obama's team is laying the groundwork for an expected punitive military strike. But he is having trouble getting other countries to go along with him.

Assad's government denies the allegations and insists the rebels are to blame for any chemical attack, and Russia is among the countries lining up behind him.

Here's a look at the latest developments and how it got to this point:

THE SYRIAN CONFLICT

The country is in the midst of a brutal civil war now in its third year. It has killed at least 93,000 people and displaced millions, with no end in sight. It's essentially a regional proxy war that is increasingly being fought along sectarian lines, pitting Sunni against Shiite Muslims, and threatening the stability of Syria's neighbors. There are fears that Assad's stockpile of chemical weapons, believed to be one of the world's largest, could fall into the hands of Islamic extremist groups.

OBAMA'S RED LINE AND EARLIER RESPONSE

Last summer, Obama said that Assad's use of chemical weapons would cross a red line, suggesting greater U. S. intervention. Then in June, the White House said it had conclusive evidence that Assad used chemical weapons against rebel fighters, and Obama decided to respond by authorizing the arming of Syria's rebels.

The move promised to deepen U. S. involvement in the conflict and heightening U. S. tensions with Russia, a staunch ally of Assad. It was a turning point for the U. S., which up to that point had avoided getting drawn into the conflict militarily. A key U. S. concern had been that U. S.-supplied weapons could fall into the hands of al-Qaida-linked militants fighting alongside the rebels.

THE TIPPING POINT

On Aug. 21, the Obama administration says, Assad's government unleashed a chemical attack outside Damascus, the capital. The government of Syria denies there were any chemical attacks. Syrian officials insist that rebels carried out the attacks. There IS disagreement within the international community over whether there were chemical weapons used. And estimates of the dead have varied depending on the source.

Activists and those who live in the area have said well over 1,000 people died in the attacks. Secretary of State John Kerry put the death count at 1,429, of which he said 426 were children. However, the nonpartisan humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders has put the death toll at 355 people.

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S ARGUMENT

Obama says he hasn't made a final decision about a military strike against Syria. But he says he's considering a limited and narrow action in response to a chemical weapons attack that he says Syria's government carried out last week.

He made the comments after the U. S. released an intelligence assessment that found with "high confidence" that Assad's government carried out a chemical weapons attack last week.

But Obama has not yet been able to show that Assad himself ordered the attacks or spelled out how punishing military strikes might defer future use of chemical weapons in the region.

COALITION OF THE NOT-SO WILLING

It's been hard for Obama to assemble an international coalition to confront Syria. That's because burnout over long engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the unpopularity of military adventures in Muslim countries, have wearied traditional Western allies.

Britain, a stalwart ally in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, won't play a direct role in any U. S. attack this time. British lawmakers abruptly refused to approve military action, despite a strong appeal by Prime Minister David Cameron to help the United States.

The only allied leader to openly express willingness to join a U. S. attack on Syria was French President Francois Hollande.

The German government also said it isn't considering joining military action against Syria.

A MATTER OF TIMING

It could be seen as rude for the president to order air strikes while U. N. weapons inspectors are still at work in Syria searching for evidence of chemical weapons use. They were expected to issue a report on their findings on Saturday at the earliest.

There's also a relatively short window before Obama leaves Tuesday on a foreign trip that will take him out of the country for most of next week — first to Sweden and then to St. Petersburg, Russia, for a meeting with the Group of 20 economic summit.

This year's host, Russian President Vladimir Putin, is a vocal opponent of a military strike in Syria. It seems unlikely that Obama would want to order air strikes on Syria while he's out of the country, especially on Putin's turf.

U. N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon planned to meet privately with the ambassadors of the five permanent Security Council members as part of his efforts to urge the divided council to come together and act on Syria's crisis. But Russia has veto power over Security Council proposals and is likely to exercise it if military strikes are contemplated.

HOW THE SYRIA CONFLICT BEGAN AND HOW LONG IT'S BEEN GOING ON

The conflict is a product of growing unhappiness with the long-serving Assad family. Bashar Assad has ruled Syria since July 2000. Before that, his father, Hafez Assad, ruled the country from 1971 to 2007. The civil war is a complicated and brutal one with heavy civilian casualties on both sides even before last week's alleged chemical attack. Syria is a small war-torn country with a population of about 23 million that has seen 2½ years of bloodshed. It borders Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.

The civil war began as protests over the frail economy and the failure of the government to deliver promised reforms. It has increasingly taken on sectarian tones as rebels, some of them Islamic extremists, fight government loyalists.

Many Syrian Shiites are allied with the regime of Assad, who is a member of the Alawite sect, which is a relatively obscure branch of Islam not generally known as hard line. Assad, however, is not particularly religious and has been seen as a generally secular ruler.

The civil war had its origins in the March 2011 jailing of a group of children who had painted anti-regime graffiti. Public protests spread through the country. Security forces opened fire on protesters.

The revolt against Assad became the longest and deadliest uprising of the Arab Spring. Both Sunni extremists among the rebels and Alawite gunmen have been blamed for the deaths of scores of people from different sects.

By mid-2011, a loose coalition of rebels and anti-government tribal groups formed the Free Syrian Army whose goal was to topple the Assad regime. As the violence increased, with those on both sides accused of killing civilians, more and more refugees fled the country.

Rebels appeared to be gaining the upper hand and they occupied more and more territory. But over the past few months the military scored a string of victories and their offensives pushed many rebels back into the Damascus suburbs where the chemical attacks took place. In some towns and cities, activists accused regime forces of execution-style killings and a scorched earth campaign of burning homes.

The Assad regime increased its pressure on rebels as pro-democracy Arab Spring movements swept through the region last year.

The United Nations estimates that roughly 1.5 million people have now fled the country, many into Lebanon.

Obama called the alleged chemical attacks "a challenge to the world" and says he has an "obligation" to act and is considering a "limited, narrow act" to send a strong message to Syria and others who might consider using chemical weapons.

THE WORLD'S RESPONSE TO SYRIA'S CIVIL WAR BEFORE THE ALLEGED CHEMICAL ATTACK.

Even before the alleged chemical attacks, the Assad regime was hit with an increasing number of sanctions from European countries and the U. S. While the regime gained increasing support and supplies from Russia and Iran, the escalating sanctions by the European Union and the United States put more pressure on people struggling with food and fuel shortages and escalating inflation.

That may have contributed to fueling increasing unrest and violence.

The Syrian conflict didn't start out as a religious war, but increasingly both Sunni and Shiite factions are emphasizing religious differences as they grapple for power.

CONGRESS, THE CONSTITUTION AND THE WAR POWERS ACT

There's little doubt that Obama as commander-in-chief could retaliate against Syrian targets without approval from the American people or their representatives in Congress. He's done it before — two years ago in Syria. So have many other U. S. presidents.

Even though the Constitution gives Congress the sole power to declare — and pay for — war, Congress hasn't formally declared war since World War II.

Every subsequent conflict involving U. S. forces, including military conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Iraq (twice), the Caribbean island of Grenada, Kosovo and Libya were undeclared, even though in most cases Congress did vote approval short of a war declaration — sometimes after the fact.

The Korean War was fought under the auspices of the United Nations. The Kosovo War was waged by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Congress' constitutional power to declare war was refined and expanded by the 1973 War Powers Act , which requires a president to notify Congress within 48 hours of initiating military action and bars U. S. armed forces for fighting for more than a maximum of 90 days without congressional approval.

HOW IT PROBABLY WOULD WORK

Obama has ruled out putting troops on the ground in Syria, and because of Assad's extensive air defense systems.

Any order for a strike would come from Obama, delivered to Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. U. S. commanders would communicate and coordinate with military officers from other nations involved in the fight, such as France, over secure lines.

Five U. S. Navy destroyers are in the eastern Mediterranean Sea waiting for the order to launch. They are armed with dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Navy also now has two aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea that are loaded with fighter jets.

THE DIFFERENT U. S. RESPONSES TO HUMANITARIAN CRISES IN RWANDA, KOSOVO AND SYRIA

Obama and his supporters have cited humanitarian motivations in setting the stage for military strikes in Syria, where more than 100,000 civilians have been killed in a civil war that has now lasted three years, including more than 300 deaths from chemical weapons attacks last week that the Obama administration blames on the Syrian government.

But the United States has a mixed record on responding to humanitarian crises. More than 500,000 people were killed in genocidal mass slaughter in 1994 in the East African state of Rwanda in a civil war between ethnic groups. The United States did not get involved militarily, although it later helped out in international efforts to relocate refugees.

Five years later, with President Bill Clinton still in the White House, it was a different story. As many as 10,000 ethnic Albanians were killed in Kosovo through the "ethnic cleansing" of Yugoslav leader Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic. Clinton ordered air strikes that lasted 78 days.

Milosevic had the strong support of Russia, as Syria's Assad does today.

OBAMA'S CREDIBILITY

Obama has drawn several "red lines" that could put him in a box and make it difficult to compromise with opponents.

On Syria, he has said that Assad would cross one if he used chemical weapons in violation of international agreements that ban the use of them. And Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons tests the president's credibility on the world stage.

Obama drew another red line on Iran, saying it was unacceptable for that country to develop nuclear weapons.

Tehran has regularly warned the U. S. against possible military action against Syria, calling such a strike Iran's own "red line" even as a cruise-missile bearing U. S. naval fleet positions itself off Syria's coast. And Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country will press forward with efforts to ward off military action in Syria by the U. S. and its allies.

At home, Obama has also set ultimatums. He has said he won't negotiate with Republicans in Congress over raising the nation's debt ceiling, which the Treasury Department says will the hit in mid-October, and he's refused to consider any budget that includes the across-the-board, automatic spending cuts known as the sequester that went into effect in March.

_____

Associated Press writers Donna Cassata, Julie Pace, Lolita Baldor, Josh Lederman and Connie Cass in Washington, Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Pablo Gorondi in Budapest, Hungary, Albert Aji in Damascus and Alexandra Olson at the United Nations contributed to this report.

___

Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomraum

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  2. The Publisher does not necessarily hold the opinions expressed by Material contributors. Opinions and other statements expressed by Users and third parties (e.g., bloggers) are theirs alone, not opinions of the Publisher. Material created by third parties is the sole responsibility of the third parties and its accuracy and completeness are not endorsed or guaranteed. You acknowledge that by providing you with the ability to view and distribute Material through the Site, the Publisher is not undertaking any obligation or liability relating to the Material. The Publisher and its affiliates, successors, assigns, employees, agents, directors, officers and shareholders do not undertake or assume any duty to monitor the Site for inappropriate or unlawful content. To the extent permitted by law, the Publisher and its affiliates, successors, assigns, employees, agents, directors, officers and shareholders assume no responsibility or liability which may arise from the Material thereof, including, but not limited to, claims for defamation, libel, slander, infringement, invasion of privacy and publicity rights, obscenity, pornography, profanity, fraud, or misrepresentation. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Publisher reserves the right to block or remove communications, postings or Materials at any time in its sole discretion.

  3. To the extent permitted by law, the Publisher will have no responsibility or liability in relation to any loss or damage that you incur, including damage to your software or hardware, arising from your use of or access to this Site.

  4. The Publisher does not warrant that functions contained in the Site content, such as hyperlinks, will be uninterrupted or error free, that defects will be corrected or that the Publisher or the server that makes it available, are free of viruses or bugs.

  5. The Publisher may be legally compelled to disclose certain Information. You agree that in the event the Publisher receives a subpoena issued by a court or from a law enforcement or government agency, the Publisher shall comply with such subpoenas without your consent or prior notice to you and may disclose your IP address, username, name, IP location or other information in response thereto.

  6. Subject to clause 30, to the extent permitted by law, the Publisher and its affiliates, and their respective members, directors, officers, managers, employees, shareholders, agents and licensors are not liable for incidental, indirect, consequential, special, punitive, or exemplary loss or damages of any kind, including, without limitation, lost revenues or profits, loss of business, opportunity or goodwill, or loss of data, arising in any way in connection with this Site or Material on the Site, the use of (or inability to use) the Site or Material, or the Conditions, whether in contract, tort (including negligence), in equity, under statue or otherwise, including but not limited to any claim, loss or injury based on errors, omissions, interruptions or other inaccuracies in the Site, or as a result of breach of any warranty or other term or condition of the Conditions. To the extent permitted by law and subject to clause 30, the Publisher's liability shall be limited to the amount you paid, if any, for use of the Site.

  7. You will be responsible for any harm the Publisher suffers as a result of your violation of these Terms and Conditions or any breach by you of your representations and warranties. You agree to indemnify and hold harmless the Publisher and its affiliates, and their respective members, directors, officers, managers, employees, shareholders, agents, and licensors, from and against all losses, expenses, damages and costs, including reasonable attorneys' fees, resulting from any violation by you of the Conditions or any breach by you of your representations and warranties thereunder. The Publisher reserves the right to take over the exclusive defense of any claim for which the Publisher is entitled to indemnification under this Section 29. In such event, you shall provide the Publisher with such cooperation as is reasonably requested by the Publisher.

  8. To the extent that the Publisher's liability for breach of any implied or statutory warranty, condition or guarantee, cannot be excluded by law, to the extent permitted by law the Publisher's liability will be limited, at the Publisher's option, to:

    1. in the case of services supplied or offered by the Publisher:

      1. the supply of the services again; or

      2. the payment of the cost of having the services supplied again; and

    2. in the case of goods supplied or offered by the Publisher:

      1. the replacement of the goods or the supply of equivalent goods;

      2. the repair of the goods;

      3. the payment of the cost of having the goods replaced; or

      4. the payment of the cost of having the goods repaired.

  9. If a jurisdiction does not allow the exclusion or limitation of liability in accordance with clause 30 but allows a limitation of a certain maximum extent then liability is limited to that extent.

No reliance, other Users

  1. Except where expressly stated otherwise, Material on the Site is provided as general information only. It is not intended as advice and must not be relied upon as such. You should make your own inquiries and take independent advice tailored to your specific circumstances prior to making any decisions. To the extent permitted by law, the Publisher will not be liable for loss resulting from any action or decision by you in reliance on the Material on the Site.

  2. You acknowledge that the Publisher is not responsible for, and accepts no liability in relation to, any other User's use of, access to or conduct in connection with the Site in any circumstance.

Termination

  1. In the event of termination of your access to the Site you must immediately cease accessing and using the Site and Materials on the Site and (at Publisher's option) return any (hard or electronic) copies of such Materials to the Publisher or destroy any copies within your control or possession. All licences granted by you and all disclaimers, indemnities and exclusion and limitations of liability set out in the Conditions will survive termination.

Severability

  1. If any provision of the Conditions is deemed invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the invalidity of such provision shall not affect the validity of the remaining provisions of the Conditions, which shall remain in full force and effect.

No waiver

  1. No waiver of any term of the Conditions shall be deemed a further or continuing waiver of such term or any other term. Any failure to assert any right under the Conditions shall not constitute a waiver of such right.

Affirmation regarding age

  1. By using the Site, you affirm that you are 18 years or over or otherwise possess legal parental or guardian consent.

Applicable Law

  1. These Conditions shall be construed in accordance with and governed by the laws of the Isle of Man. You consent to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts in the Isle of Man to determine any matter or dispute which arises under the Conditions.

Definitions

  1. In these terms and conditions:

    1. "Material" means text, illustrations, photos, audio, video, or any combination of these or other content, information, data or material.

Publishing Services International Limited Privacy Policy

1. Privacy

The Publisher recognizes the importance of protecting the privacy of its customers. For the purposes of this Privacy Policy, "customers" includes visitors to the Site, subscribers to and users of the Publisher's services, purchasers of its products and advertising customers. This privacy policy is intended to inform you about the personal information that is collected from you when you visit the Site, and in the other circumstances described under the heading "Collection of personal information" below, how this information may be used and disclosed, how you can control the use and disclosure of your information, how your information is protected, and how you can access that information. The Publisher may, from time to time, review and update this Privacy Policy, including taking account of new or amended laws, new technology and/or changes to its operations. This Privacy Policy applies only in respect of the Site. This Privacy Policy does not apply to information collected through any other website (other than by or on behalf of the Publisher in the circumstances described under the heading "Collection of personal information" below) or to the practices of companies that the Publisher does not control. Please note that the Site may contain links to other websites. For example, if you click on an advertisement on the Site and link to another website, then this Privacy Policy will not apply to any information collected on that website. The Publisher is not responsible for the privacy practices of other websites, and the Publisher recommends that you read the privacy policies of each website that you visit. All personal information held by the Publisher will be governed by the most recently updated Privacy Policy.

2. Collection of personal information

The Publisher collects personal information when the Publisher provides its services to you. When you visit and interact with the Site, certain information may be collected automatically, including:

  • your computer's Internet Protocol (IP) address;
  • your browser type and operating system;
  • the web pages you were visiting immediately before and after you came to the Site;
  • activities within community discussions;
  • web pages and advertisements that you view, and links that you click on, within the Site;
  • your bandwidth speed and information about the software programs that are installed on your computer;
  • aggregated data about email click‑through rates and user video viewing;
  • standard server log information; and
  • information collected through HTML cookies, Flash cookies, web beacons, and similar technologies.

The Publisher usually collects personal information directly from you, although sometimes the Publisher may use agents or service providers to do this for the Publisher. The Publisher may also acquire lists from other sources, both from other companies and from other public documents. This may include advertisers, mailing lists, recruitment agencies, contractors and business partners. The Publisher may also access information about you from third‑party sources and platforms (such as social networking sites, databases, online marketing firms, and ad targeting firms), including:

  • if you access third‑party social networking services (such as Facebook Connect or Twitter) through the Site, your username and connection lists for those services;
  • demographic data, such as age range, gender, and interests;
  • advertisement interaction and viewing data, such as ad click‑through rates and information about how many times you viewed a particular ad; and
  • unique identifiers, including mobile device identification numbers, that can identify the physical location of such devices in accordance with applicable law.

Please note that the Site may combine the information that we collect with information that the Publisher may obtain from third‑party sources. The Publisher may collect your personal information when you request or acquire a product or service from the Publisher, register with the Publisher as a member (including user name and password and contact information such as name, email address, postal address, phone number, and mobile number), provide a product or service to the Publisher, complete a survey or questionnaire, enter a competition or event, contribute in a fundraising event, participate in one of the Publisher's services (including blogs, forums, community discussions and other interactive features), search queries conducted on the Site, or when you communicate with the Publisher by e‑mail, telephone, or in writing.

The Publisher usually collects personal information such as your name, address, telephone number, and in some instances, your financial details, including your credit card information, in addition to the other specific types of information described above. The Publisher also collects information about you that is not personal information. For example, the Publisher may collect data relating to your activity on its websites (including IP addresses) via tracking technologies such as cookies, or the Publisher may collect information from you in response to a survey.

As a general rule the Publisher does not collect sensitive information, however it reserves the right to do so. If the Publisher does, it will usually be for the purposes of providing its goods or services and if the law requires the Publisher to, the Publisher will seek your consent to collect it.

If you do not provide the Publisher with information described above, the Publisher may not be able to its services to you.

If, at any time, you provide personal information about someone other than yourself, you warrant that you have that person's consent to provide such information for the purpose specified.

If you are located outside of the Isle of Man, please note that personal information provided by you or otherwise collected as described above will be transferred to the Isle of Man.

3. Use of personal information

The Publisher uses personal information to provide its services (which may include the display of personalised content and advertising) to you, to fulfil administrative functions associated with these services, for example billing, to enter into contracts with you or third parties and for marketing and client relationship purposes. The Publisher also generally uses personal information to report statistics, analyse trends, diagnose problems and target and improve the quality of its products and services. By accessing the Site, you agree that the Publisher may use your personal information for the purposes and by the means described in this Privacy Policy, and you agree that the Publisher may use your mobile number to send you promotions, notifications, or other services. In order to provide readers with free access to content, the Publisher displays advertisements on the Site, many of which are targeted based on information about you. For example, using information collected through cookies, web beacons, and other sources, the Publisher may use demographic data or information about your online activities or interests to display targeted advertising that may be relevant to your preferences. Through this process, advertisers reach Site visitors who are most interested in their products, and you see advertising for products or services in which you may be interested. Third‑party advertisers and advertising platforms also may serve targeted ads on the Site. Please remember that the information practices of third‑party advertisers or platforms collecting data on our Site are not covered by this privacy policy. The Publisher may also use the information that it collects to prevent illegal activities, to enforce the Site's Terms and Conditions, and to otherwise protect its rights and the rights of its users. In addition to the uses identified above, the Publisher may use the information that it collects for any other purposes disclosed to you at the time it collects your information or pursuant to your consent. Where your personal information is contained within an advertisement which the Publisher publishes for you, the Publisher may also use your information for publication of that same advertisement in other media, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the initial publication. The Publisher may also use your personal information to assist the Publisher in improving its products and services and to let you know about goods, services, or promotions which may interest you.

4. Disclosure to and use by Third Parties

The Publisher values your privacy, and shares information about its users only under certain circumstances. The Publisher may share your information with other companies which are related to the Publisher. The Publisher may disclose your information to its service providers and contractors from time to time to help the Publisher to provide and market its goods and services to you. The Publisher may also share your information with third parties who provide prizes for competitions or reader offers. If the Publisher does this, the Publisher generally requires these parties to protect your information in the same way as the Publisher does.

The Publisher will make information about you available to other companies, applications, or people in the circumstances listed below:

  • The Publisher may share aggregated information or information that does not directly identify you with third parties to help the Publisher develop content, services, and advertising that the Publisher hopes you will find of interest. Please note that the Publisher does not share contact information with third parties that advertise on the Site.
  • The Publisher may employ third parties to perform Site‑related services, including database management, maintenance services, analytics, marketing, data processing, and email and text message distribution. These third parties have access to your information only to perform these tasks on the Publisher's behalf.
  • If you choose to engage in public activities on the site, such as posting comments on community message boards, any information you submit can be read, collected, or used by others. Please exercise caution when deciding to disclose any personal information in public activities or submissions.
  • The Publisher may share information about you in the event that the Site is acquired by or merged with another company or a similar corporate transaction takes place. However, the Site will notify you by placing a prominent notice on the Site or sending a notice to the primary email address specified in your account before your information is transferred and becomes subject to a different privacy policy.
  • The Publisher may share information about you to investigate, prevent, or take action regarding illegal activities, suspected fraud, situations involving potential threats to the physical safety or other rights and interests of any person, violations of the Site's Terms and Conditions, or as otherwise required by law.
  • The Publisher may share information about you to respond to subpoenas, search warrants, judicial proceedings, court orders, legal process, or other law enforcement measures, to establish or exercise our legal rights, or to defend against legal claims.
  • In addition to the scenarios identified above, the Publisher may share information about you for any other purposes disclosed to you at the time the Publisher collects your information or pursuant to your consent.

Please note that third parties may independently collect data about you, including your IP address and information about the websites you visit and the links you click, through cookies, clicks on links, or other means when you visit or view ads on the Site.

To customize your experience on the Site and to simplify the Site's registration process, the Publisher provides you with the opportunity to access or interact with third‑party services, such as Facebook and Twitter. When you connect to the Site through these third‑party services, the Publisher may share information about you with these third‑party service providers and they may share data about you with the Publisher. When you allow the Publisher to access your data through a third‑party service to create a Site profile, the Publisher may use this data for several purposes, including:

  • For example, if you connect to the Site via a service with a public friend list, like Twitter, the Publisher may check to see if any people you follow on Twitter are also Site members. If the Publisher finds a match, the Publisher will replicate your Twitter relationship with those members, setting them to be fans, followers, or friends on the Publisher Site.
  • For example, if you connect via a service that has a private contact list (like Google and Yahoo!), the Publisher checks for people in your contacts who are Site members and suggest that you become a fan of these users.
  • When users share content with their friends, the Publisher may use friend lists from third‑party services to create a list of contacts to whom you may choose to send the email message.
  • For example, the Publisher may use friend lists from a third‑party service to create a list of contacts to whom you may choose to send an invitation to view an interactive slideshow.
  • When you are connected via a third‑party service, the Publisher may access certain account information, such as your profile picture, what stories are popular in your network, and what your friends are saying about certain articles or blog posts, in order to enhance and personalize your experience on the Site.

In addition, if you connect to a Facebook account, your experience on the Site may be personalized. For example, you may automatically see what stories are popular in your network, and what your friends are saying about particular stories. Please note that you may disconnect third party accounts at any time.

Please remember that the Publisher does not control the privacy practices of these third‑party services. The Publisher encourages you to read the privacy policies of all third‑party service providers. You can deactivate your account at any time by visiting the preferences page for your profile. When you deactivate your account, your user profile will be disabled, but your public comments will remain on the site. The Site has no responsibility to take down, remove, or edit any of your public activities or any submissions that are a result of your public activities. If you opt out of these technologies, you will continue to see advertising displayed on the Site, but the advertising may not be targeted to your interests. Please remember that the Publisher does not have access to, or control over, advertisers' or service providers' cookies, and the information practices of third parties are not covered by this privacy policy.

5. Use of Aggregate Data

The Publisher may collect and use certain non‑personal information (e.g., the identity of your Internet browser, the type of operating system you use, your IP address and the domain name of your Internet service provider) to optimise its goods and services (which may include the display of personalised content and advertising) including the Publisher's web pages for your computer. The Publisher may use personally identifiable information in aggregate form to improve its goods and services including its web sites and make them more responsive to the needs of its customers. This statistical compilation and analysis of information may also be used by the Publisher or provided to others as a summary report for marketing, advertising or research purposes.

6. Security

The Publisher strives to ensure the security, integrity and privacy of personal information of its customers. The Publisher may hold your information in either electronic or hard copy form. The Publisher uses a variety of physical and electronic security measures including restricting physical access to its offices and firewalls and secure databases to keep personal information secure from misuse, loss or unauthorized use or disclosure. Unfortunately, no data transmission over the Internet can be guaranteed to be totally secure. The Publisher limits access to contact information about you to employees or service providers who the Publisher believes reasonably need to come into contact with that information to provide products or services to you or in order to do their jobs, and subject to section 4 of this Privacy Policy. The Publisher also has adopted commercially reasonable technical, physical, and administrative procedures to help protect information about you from loss, misuse, and alteration. Personal information is destroyed or de‑identified when no longer needed. Please note that no data transmission or storage can be guaranteed to be 100% secure. The Publisher wants you to feel confident using the Site, but the Publisher cannot ensure or warrant the security of any information you transmit to the Publisher.

7. Access to Personal Information

You have a right to request access to personal information the Publisher holds about you. Where the Publisher holds personal information that you are entitled to access, the Publisher will endeavour to provide you with suitable means of accessing it (e.g. by emailing or mailing it to you). If the Publisher denies access in some circumstances, the Publisher will tell you why. To request access, please contact the Publisher's privacy officer as set out at the end of this document. If you believe that personal information the Publisher holds about you is incorrect, incomplete or inaccurate, then you may request amendment of it. The Publisher will consider if the information requires amendment. If the Publisher does not agree that there are grounds for amendment then the Publisher will add a note to the personal information stating that you disagree with it.

8. Public Information

Any information posted on bulletin boards and/or communicated in chat areas becomes public information. While the Publisher strives to protect and respect your privacy, the Publisher cannot guarantee the security of any information you disclose in a chat room or bulletin board.

9. Cookies

Cookies are data that a Web site transfers to an individual's hard drive for record‑keeping purposes. Cookies can facilitate a user's ongoing access to and use of a site. They allow the Publisher to track usage patterns and to compile data that can help the Publisher improve its content and target advertising. If you do not want information collected through the use of Cookies, there is a simple procedure in most browsers that allows you to deny or accept the Cookie feature. But you should note that Cookies may be necessary to provide you with features such as merchandise transactions or registered services.

10. Online Links to Third Party and Co‑Branded Sites

The Publisher may establish relationships with business partners that allow visitors to the Publisher's web sites to link directly to sites operated by these partners. Some of these sites may be "co‑branded" with the Publisher's logo - however, these sites may not be operated or maintained by or on behalf of the Publisher. These sites may collect personal information from you that may be shared with the Publisher. This Privacy Statement will apply to any personal information the Publisher obtains in this manner. The Publisher is not responsible for the content or practices of web sites operated by third parties that are linked to the Publisher's sites. These links are meant for the user's convenience only. Links to third party sites do not constitute sponsorship, endorsement or approval by the Publisher of the content, policies or practices of those third party sites. Once you have left the Publisher's site via such a link, you should check the applicable privacy policy of the third party site.

11. What else you should know about privacy on the Internet

Remember to close your browser when you have finished your user session. This is to ensure that others cannot access your personal information and correspondence if you share a computer with someone else or are using a computer in a public place like a library or Internet cafe. You as an individual are responsible for the security of and access to your own computer. Whenever you voluntarily disclose personal information over the Internet this information can be collected and used by others. In short, if you post personal information in publicly accessible online forums, you may receive unsolicited messages from other parties in return. Ultimately, you are solely responsible for maintaining the secrecy of your username and passwords and any account information. Please be careful and responsible whenever you are using the Internet. The Publisher does not knowingly collect personal information from children under 13. If the Publisher learns that it has collected any personal information from a child under the age of 13 without verifiable parental consent, the Publisher will delete that information from its database as quickly as possible. If you believe that the Publisher may have collected information from a child under 13, please contact the Publisher at privacy@publishingservicesinternational.im.

12. For further information

Please contact our Privacy Officer to ask for access to your information or if you have a complaint concerning your information privacy or if you would like more information about our approach to privacy at privacy@publishingservicesinternational.im.

13. Changes to the privacy policy

The Publisher reserves the right to update this Privacy Policy at any time to reflect changes in the Publisher's practices and service offerings. The Publisher will use it best endeavours to update the Privacy Policy on the Site, however it does not warrant that it will post these updates immediately.

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