Just some quick news stories I found interesting:
Australia will lead the international debate on Syria as of Sept 1/201, when they take the helm at the UN
AS president of the UN Security Council from September 1, Australia will lead the international debate on the worsening Syrian crisis amid growing pressure on Moscow and Beijing to bring the Assad regime into line.
Australia takes the chair of the Security Council during the federal election "caretaker period", which means Kevin Rudd and Senator Carr would have to consult closely with Tony Abbott and the Coalition's foreign affairs spokeswoman, Julie Bishop.brian left this link regarding Australian war planners in Washington
Mr Rudd also reiterated Australia’s major alliance with the United States, where Australian military officers are working alongside the the US military in the Pentagon to help draw up war plans for an American-led intervention.Thanks brian!
So called 'activists' are smuggling evidence of chemical weapon use out of Syria
|Female fighters in the Free Syrian Army hold their weapons along with banners as they take part in a demonstration condemning what activists say was a nerve gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad's forces in the Ghouta region east of Damascus|
Female fighters of the FSA or Israeli IDF? Smart money says if these really are 'fighters' they are Israeli soldiers. (What's with the covered faces?)
Beirut: Syrian activists say (but are they really ?) they are smuggling out body tissue samples from victims of an alleged chemical weapons attack outside Damascus and are trying to get them to a team of United Nations inspectors staying in a hotel a few miles away.
Only a few activists said they were confident that they had a contact who would be able to hand their samples to the UN inspectors.
Most activists in the area who spoke said they had also prepared samples to smuggle into the capital, but had little to zero contact with the UN experts and were unable to find a way to access the monitors inside their hotel.
If the activists have little to zero contact with the UN experts as they are admitting, then their will be no samples? Unless they are bogus samples? So called 'smuggled samples' would be useless as evidence.
An activist in Damascus who calls herself Alexia Jade confirmed that medics and activists in the suburbs have been trying to get samples out of the suburbs and were sending them to a secret location. She hinted there may be several organisations that the opposition would try to deliver the samples to, but would not give further details.
U.S. military officials have updated their options for a forceful intervention in Syria, a senior defense official told CNN on Friday.“Samples have been collected but the destination is confidential — and there may be more than one destination. The plan is to get the samples to someone who can actually do something about,” she told Reuters on Skype.
U.S. military officials have updated their options for a forceful intervention in Syria, a senior defense official told CNN on Friday.UPDATE BEGINS:
The changes to previous plans included updating target lists for possible airstrikes, the official said. The official cautioned that these options were updated "to give the president a current -- and comprehensive -- range of choices," but that no decision was made at a national security meeting Thursday at the White House.
The official said that while there are certain static targets such as government buildings and military installations, the forces and equipment of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "continue to move," and thus require flexibility in planning.
No formal determination has been made on whether the Syrian government used chemical weapons
WP: U.S. naval forces are moving closer to Syria. The White House said the president would meet Saturday with his national security team to consider possible next steps by the United States. Officials say once the facts are clear, Obama will make a decision about how to proceed.
U.S. Navy ships are capable of a variety of military action, including launching Tomahawk cruise missiles, as they did against Libya in 2011.
If the U.S. wants to send a message to Assad, the most likely military action would be a Tomahawk missile strike, launched from a ship in the Mediterranean.
Obama also cited the need for the U.S. to be part of a coalition in dealing with SyriaAnd of course the US has the NATO coalition.. always on hand. Always ready to terrorize. Always bringing death, destruction and tyranny.
Russia rejects calls for use of force on Syrian gov''t
Russia said that any calls or Security Council encouragement for the use of force against the Syrian government were "rejected" in light of claims of its use of chemical weapons in attacks on civilians.
Russia on Friday directly accused opposition forces of carrying out the attack, which killed hundreds of people in the region of Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus. The Syrian opposition had accused the government of having carried out the attack, three days ago, in which chemical nerve agents were said to have been used - claims fiercely rejected by Damascus.
"The fact that agenda-driven regional mass media have begun an aggressive attack at once, as if on command, laying all responsibility on the government, draws attention," Russia's Foreign Ministry quoted spokesman Alexander Lukashevich as saying in a statement.
"It is apparently no coincidence that information like this regarding the authorities using chemical weapons has been thrown in before, including in the past days, citing some opposition sources, however it was not confirmed later, " Lukashevich said.
"All this can only lead us to think that we are dealing again with a provocation planned in advance. The fact that the criminal action near Damascus was carried out just when the mission of UN experts to investigate the statements on possible chemical weapons use there has successfully begun its work in Syria points to this," said the statement.
"Moscow thinks that it is important to hold an objective and professional investigation of what has happened
"We are urging again all those who have the opportunity to influence armed extremists to make every effort to put an end to provocations with the use of poisonous chemical substances," said the statement.