American officials said Wednesday, Dec. 4, that they believed bombs had been made ready with sarin gas, but not yet loaded onto fighter planes and Assad had not issued the “go” order. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned President Assad once again that he would be crossing “a red line” if he used nerve gas against the country’s rebels. But “there’s little the outside world can do to stop it.”
In answer to US allegations, Syrian spokesmen reiterated that their government would not use chemical weapons against its own people.
This statement leaves wide open the possible use of lethal gas against the countries supporting the Syrian rebels, such as Turkey and Jordan. And indeed, the Assad regime has in the past referred to “external enemies” as possible targets of chemical warfare.
This locution undoubtedly covers Israel. Yet against the flood of information and warnings coming from the United States, Israel is strangely silent and its media are officially discouraged from tracking the Syrian chemical weapons menace. – Debka
Palestinians now firing Katyushas rockets: The Palestinian Gaza terrorist grades are now firing Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) “Katyshas” supplied by the Lebanese Hizballah and 120-mm bunker-busting mortars in their current offensive against Israeli towns, villages and troops, Israeli lawmaker Shay Hermesh revealed Sunday, Nov. 11 after 6 civilians sere hospitalized.
The Knesset member who lives in Kfar Azza spoke after more than 60 assorted rockets hit southern Israel from Saturday. The public radio Kol Israel interrupted the interview with Hermesh at that point to prevent any more discolosures.
debkafile: The civilians injured Sunday in intense rocket fire aimed at Sderot, Shear Hanegev and the Eshkol district were apparently caught by concentrated Katyusha fire rather than the hit-or-miss Qassams or Grads.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened the weekly cabinet session by saying: We are set to escalate our response.” Debka
Israel Fires at Syria in response: The IDF fired a warning shot at the Syrian military on Sunday, after a Syrian shell landed in the Golan Heights for the second time in recent days.
Israel has not fired at Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
“In the midst of Syrian infighting, a mortar shell fired by the Syrian army struck near an outpost at Tel Hazeka,” IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai said. The shell failed to cause injuries or damages, but was one of a series of shells that landed in Israeli territory in recent days.
“In light of the policy instituted by IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, a warning round was fired back into Syria. We don’t believe it caused injuries or damages,” Mordechai added.
At the same time, Israel sent a warning message to the UN, saying that any further firing into Israel will result “in a real response,” sources added.
Israel limited its return fire, since its policy is to only fire intensively in response to coming under major Syrian fire. “We didn’t continue firing because this was one mortar we were responding to,” the source said.
“We will not accept any firing into our territory,” he added. “This was a signal to the Syrians, that we will not be so forgiving of everything that lands in a territory.” The source stressed that as of now, Israel and Syria were not a in a conflict situation. – JPost
“I do not think the West is going [to intervene], but if they do so, nobody can tell what is next. I think the price of this [foreign] invasion if it happened is going to be more than the whole world can afford,” Assad said in a Thursday interview with the Russia Today TV network.
Assad warned that the domino effect of any military attack on the country “will affect the world from the Atlantic to the Pacific and you know the implication on the rest of the world.”- PressTV
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of the Basque Spanish city of Barakaldo to condemn the suicide of an evictee as well as to protest against further foreclosures.
Fifty-three-year-old Amaia Egaña jumped four floors to her death as bailiffs prepared to kick her out after she failed to stay current on her mortgage payments. She is the second person in less than three weeks to commit suicide in the face of an impending eviction.
Organizers of the Stop Eviction march called for immediate action by Madrid to end foreclosures, blaming the suicide on Spain’s economic hardship. Demonstrators shouted slogans such as ”No eviction unanswered,” and ”Banker, remember – we have rope.”
It is estimated that more than 400,000 families have lost their homes due to unpaid rents since the start of Spain’s financial crisis in 2007. Source: RT
A 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck a mountainous region near Mandalay, Myanmar early Sunday morning. The earthquake had a depth of 9.8 km (6.1 miles) and struck just 116 miles from Mandalay, Myanmar. The earthquake was downgraded by the USGS from a 7.0 event. A strong earthquake struck northern Myanmar on Sunday, with local media reporting that five people were killed. Scattered damage and injuries also were reported in areas close to the quake’s epicenter.. Residents from Mandalay, the second biggest commercial city in central Myanmar, told Reuters that they felt a very strong tremor. “I’ve never felt such a strong tremor. I also heard some loud noises and the light went out. No idea about the damage,” a resident said. The earthquake was followed by a strong series of aftershocks and low-level tsunami warnings went out for the Indian Ocean. Source: The Extinction Protocol
I don’t have the minutes of the meeting (yet), but sources tell me California Senator and longtime gun-hater Dianne Feinstein’s legal staff held meetings on Friday with FTB/ATF legal staff to discuss a new “Assault Weapons Ban” Madame Feinstein would be looking to push through Congress if President Obama wins reelection. This same “pretty good intelligence” says the items that would lead to a ban would ban pistol grips and “high-capacity” magazines, eliminate any grandfathering and ban sales of “weapons in possession”.
The law “would essentially ban thousands of firearms and require gun owners to turn them over to the Federal government,” Slavo writes.
With Obama, who supports the ban, in the White House for another term and the Democrats fully in control of the Senate, Feinstein will most likely be able to introduce the legislation. If any trouble is encountered in the Republican-held House of Representatives, then gun control advocates should fear not, as Obama would most likely issue an executive order to get around it as he’s done in the past when he doesn’t get his way. After all, “we can’t wait,” the dictator needs to erode our rights now.
As has been reported, so-called assault weapons are used in a very minute percentage of crime, being used in only about one percent of gun crimes and 0.20 percent of all violent crime, and the ban in no way affected violent crime while it was law.
A related issue also came up almost immediately after Obama’s reelection. Not even 24 hours after winning, the administration issued support for the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, which would implement a de facto global gun registry. According to PR Newswire, the administration joined with “China, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, and more than 150 other governments, in supporting renewed debate” on the treaty. – Examiner
After winning a second White House term, US President Barack Obama aims to start direct, fast-track nuclear talks with Tehran as soon as December, even before his January swearing-in, on the assumption that Iran’s window of opportunity is very narrow – just three months, debkafile’s Washington sources disclose.
White House go-betweens with the office of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warn that Iran’s campaign for the June 14 presidential election gets going in March. After than, it is estimated in Washington, that Khamenei, whose ill health keeps his working-day short, will be fully absorbed in a struggle to purge Iran’s political hierarchy of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his clique.
But Tehran would prefer nuclear diplomacy to be delayed for eight months until after that election. “We waited for the US election campaign to be over, so why shouldn’t the Americans wait for ours?” a senior Iranian official asked rhetorically.
For now, the supreme leader is looking for a suitable candidate for the presidency. This time, the supreme leader is not expected to make the mistake of choosing a charismatic, ambitious and competent figure like Ahmadinejad, but rather one who is satisfied with acting as a representative titular figure and play second fiddle to Khamenei whose bureau will administer the executive branch of government. – Debka
A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck Guatemala on Wednesday, killing at least 48 people, injuring about 150 and leaving 23 unaccounted for, government officials said. They warned that the official toll was preliminary and could rise.
“This is the largest earthquake we have had since the one in 1976,” President Otto Pérez Molina said at a news conference, recalling the temblor that killed about 23,000 people.
The earthquake on Wednesday, centered off the Pacific Coast of Guatemala, struck at 10:35 a.m., leveling houses and damaging government buildings, schools and roads.
“It was too strong,” said Yesenia Miranda, 30, a pastor at a church in the department of San Marcos, the area hardest hit. “We’ve never lived through anything like this.”
During the earthquake, the church’s walls cracked and its windows broke, said Ms. Miranda, who is helping operate a relief center out of the rooms that were not damaged. The city’s hospital, she said, had extensive damage and was operating at less than capacity.
After a wall at a local prison fell, breaching security, 98 inmates were taken to a jail in nearby Quetzaltenango.
Although no major damage was reported outside of Guatemala, shaking could be felt in buildings as far as San Salvador and Mexico City. – NY Times
Lawmakers approved the spending cuts, tax hikes and measures making it easier to hire and fire workers after nearly 100,000 Greeks waving flags and chanting “Fight! They’re drinking our blood!” descended on Syntagma Square in central Athens.
Despite the abstention of their junior ruling partner the Democratic Left, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s New Democracy Party and its Socialist PASOK allies passed the 500-odd page bill shortly after midnight.
They mustered 153 of parliament’s 300 seats, with New Democracy and PASOK expelling seven deputies from their ranks for not backing the measures.
Earlier in the evening, clashes erupted when a handful of protesters tried to break through a barricade to enter the assembly. Riot police responded with teargas, stun grenades and, for the first time in an anti-austerity protest here, water cannon.
There was also chaos inside the assembly, where parliamentary workers briefly stopped the session by walking out when they discovered their salaries would be cut. – Reuters
Barack Hussein Obama was re-elected president of the United States on Tuesday, overcoming powerful economic headwinds, a lock-step resistance to his agenda by Republicans in Congress and an unprecedented torrent of advertising as a divided nation voted to give him more time.
In defeating Mitt Romney, the president carried Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin, a near sweep of the battleground states, and was holding a narrow advantage in Florida. The path to victory for Mr. Romney narrowed as the night wore along, with Mr. Obama winning at least 303 electoral votes.
A cheer of jubilation sounded at the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago when the television networks began projecting him as the winner at 11:20 p.m., even as the ballots were still being counted in many states where voters had waited in line well into the night. The victory was far narrower than his historic election four years ago, but it was no less dramatic.
“Tonight in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back,” Mr. Obama told his supporters early Wednesday. “We know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.” – NY Times
And in Minnesota, where gay marriage is already not allowed, voters declined to back an initiative that would enshrine in the state’s constitution a definition of marriage permitting only a union between a man and woman.
In Washington state, where voters also weighed an initiative to legalize gay marriage, the vote count was expected to stretch on for days. With half of the vote counted as of 3 a.m. Eastern time, nearly 52% supported the idea.
In Maine, campaigners for same-sex marriage said the win marked a turning point for their cause. “We made history here tonight and showed that voters can change their minds,” said Matt McTighe, the campaign director of Mainers United for Marriage. “That will serve as something of a signal to other states who have lost marriage fights before at ballot boxes. You can change those minds.” – WSJ
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Monday night to put a stop to Iran’s nuclear program by whatever means necessary — even in outright defiance of American objections — if neither sanctions, nor other international action, achieves that goal.