Syria Hub

President Obama to Seek Approval from Congress on Syria Strike: VIDEO


Yesterday in a White House press conference with Joe Biden at his side, President Obama expressed is outrage at Syria's use of chemical weapons and said that he would take the case for military action to the American people and the world, but most importantly, seek approval from Congress:

Now, after careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets. This would not be an open-ended intervention. We would not put boots on the ground. Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope. But I'm confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons, deter this kind of behavior, and degrade their capacity to carry it out.

Our military has positioned assets in the region. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has informed me that we are prepared to strike whenever we choose. Moreover, the Chairman has indicated to me that our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive; it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now. And I'm prepared to give that order.

But having made my decision as Commander-in-Chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I'm also mindful that I'm the President of the world's oldest constitutional democracy. I've long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And that's why I've made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress.

Watch his remarks, AFTER THE JUMP...

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John Kerry Lays Foundation for U.S. Response to Chemical Attacks in Syria: VIDEO


Watch Kerry's statement, AFTER THE JUMP...

Secretary of State John Kerry offered a long statement yesterday on suspected chemical attacks in Syria, warning that military response could come at any time:

"President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people," Kerry said at the State Department, laying the foundation for U.S. involvement in the bloody Syrian civil war...

"It is undeniable," that chemical weapons were used, Kerry said. "This is about the large scale, indiscriminate use of weapons that the civilized world long ago decided must never be used at all.

Britain is preparing a contingency plan for intervention, the NYT reports:

British fighter aircraft were reported to have been sent to Cyprus, a likely launching pad for any non-missile strike.

“We are continuing to discuss with our international partners what the right response should be, but, as part of this, we are making contingency plans for the armed forces,” Mr. Cameron’s spokesman said. The intention of any strike, British officials have said, is to deter further use of chemical weapons.

Watch Kerry's statement, AFTER THE JUMP...

David Mixner posts a list of things to consider as air strikes seem, at this point, inevitable:

What are the ramifications of those decisions and does it bring us closer to peace?. This is not about 'crossing the line' since the 100,000 killed already is just as horrifying as the several thousand who died by gas. The 'line' really doesn't exist and never has existed.

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NBC News Reporter Richard Engel and Team Recount Kidnapping in Syria: VIDEO


NBC News reporter Richard Engel were kidnapped for five days in Syria and were recently freed at a checkpoint and are now in Turkey. Engel spoke with the Today show this morning about their experience.

Watch the very relieved team tell their story, AFTER THE JUMP...

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New York Mural Addresses Gay Rights In The Middle East


The Birthright Israel Alumni Community and a coalition of artists called Artists 4 Israel recently unveiled a new mural in New York's West Village that aims to compare and contrast the LGBT politics of countries in the Middle East.

The New York Times offers more details:

The mural shows the outlines of two men holding hands below the headline: Who Would YOU want at Your Wedding? The male figures also hold up two balancing scales that offer a stark contrast between the state of gay rights in Israel and in some of its Arabic neighbors.

Above one scale, the text notes that Israel lets same-sex couples adopt children, that “gay people serve openly in the military and government” there and that more than 10,000 people celebrated at Tel Aviv’s 2011 Pride Parade.

On the other scale, labeled “Israel’s neighbors,” the text says that homosexuality is illegal in Syria and punishable by death in Iran. “There is no pride parade in Egypt, Jordan or Gaza,” the mural reads.

Rebecca Sugar, director of Birthright's alumni group, told the paper, "There is only one country in the Middle East where you can live freely, as you are. The surrounding countries who accuse Israel of prejudice and bias are prejudiced and biased.”

Others, however, described the mural as "Arab-bashing."

"[The mural is] blatantly divisive, opposing Israel against its neighbors in the region," said Adem Carroll from the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition. "Is this very negative messaging an encouragement to Arab nations to implement broader rights protections, or will it have a more negative backlash effect?”

NEWS: Homs, Tornados, And Miley Cyrus

Towleroad-roadicon The situation worsens in Homs.

Towleroad-roadicon Here's a video of government explosives detonating in the middle of a peaceful crowd.

Towleroad-roadicon ... Reuters: Red Cross can't get through ... "A major assault on Homs took place yesterday ... We continue to received grisly reports of summary executions, arbitrary detentions and torture." ... "They are torturing them and killing (detainees) one by one. They are executing them in batches."

Towleroad-roadicon INDICTED: Javaris Bradford, the fourth criminal thug fingered in the beating of Brandon White.

Towleroad-roadicon From The Advocate: Homophobes to gather at Oxford ...

Christian Concern ... opposed antidiscrimination laws and is currently fighting efforts to legalize same-sex marriage, and a related organization, the Christian Legal Centre, is helping a psychotherapist appeal her conviction of malpractice by offering an undercover journalist a “cure” for homosexuality. The U.S.-based Alliance Defense Fund, a right-wing legal group, is also involved with the conference.

... Gay students, and many Christians, will be deeply offended to see extremist groups given a platform at Exeter College,” Sam Dick, policy director for the gay rights group Stonewall, told the Oxford Student, a campus newspaper. 

Towleroad-roadicon Even if Santorum wins Ohio, he can't win Ohio's delegates:

Santorum ... has already forsaken nine delegates by not being on ballots in three Ohio congressional districts.

... Santorum failed to file a full complement of delegates in six additional districts, said central committee member Bob Bennett. The holes add up to another nine delegates, for a total of 18 out of the 63 up for grabs. Santorum also did not file all 18 of his at-large delegates.

Towleroad-roadicon ... but, says Joe Nocera, Santorum is excellent for the Republican Party, and we should all root for him:

If Mitt Romney takes the nomination and then loses to Obama, the extremists who’ve taken over the party will surely say the problem was Romney’s lack of ideological purity. If, however, Santorum is the nominee — and then loses in a landslide — the party will no longer be able to delude itself about where its ideological rigidity has taken it.

An alcoholic doesn’t stop drinking until he hits bottom. The Republican Party won’t change until it hits bottom.

Towleroad-roadicon American Conservative: Why we can't have a Christian republic.

Towleroad-roadicon Judge revokes license of bad teenage driver -- for life. Bad teen driver gets for life.

Towleroad-roadicon It's no crime to break an unjust law: The deportation of a valedictorian

Tornado Towleroad-roadicon How many people can fit in Manhattan?

Towleroad-roadicon Authors Kergan Edwards-Stout and Gregory G. Allen have an enlightening chat about AIDS, literature, and the quirks'n'perks of modern publishing.

Towleroad-roadicon Miley Cyrus grows up; becomes a Lawrence Krauss fan, secular humanist, and moral disappointment to millions of Bible Belt fans.

Towleroad-roadicon Tornados wreak havoc across five states; at least 38 die.

Towleroad-roadicon Some people were saved. And some who were saved believe they were saved by magic

Towleroad-roadicon WATCH: The disgustingly cute spectacle of a one-year-old who can play drums. AFTER THE JUMP ...

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On The Ground In Homs: VIDEO

A very brave freelance documentarian has been shooting for weeks in the embattled Syrian city of Homs, where for nearly a month the forces of President Bashar al-Assad have been shelling residential neighborhoods. The documentarian has befriended members of the anti-Assad rebellion, and he records his videos in their midst -- battling government snipers in room-to-room combat, firefighting in the streets, tending to the dead. The video he's compiled and released to CNN represents some of the best and bravest war reporting I've seen in any format.

The video's twelve minutes long, and a lot of it will stick with you. I was especially struck by two things. First: Eight minutes and twenty some-odd seconds into the film, three men greet each other on a Homsian street, hugging and kissing, seemingly on the verge of tears. They look like friends or brothers who didn't expect to see each other alive again. Second: At video's end, a grandmother watches over a brood of children. Some of her own children are dead, but we don't know how many. She may not know either. She's utterly still, too furious and aggrieved even to scream.


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