"I have a high probability to believe that chemical weapons were used," Chairman Mike Rogers  told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "We need that final verification, but given everything we know over the last year and a half, I would come to the conclusion that they are either positioned for use, and ready to do that, or in fact have been used." Rogers and Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, struck ominous tones in an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room" about the possibility that Syria had crossed what President Barack Obama has said was a "red line" that could lead to the United States getting involved militarily in the conflict. Rogers' statement arrives as the specter of chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian civil war emerged Tuesday, with the government and rebels each blaming the other for using such munitions. In remarks earlier Tuesday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told Jake Tapper on CNN's "The Lead" that the president takes the issue of chemical weapons in Syria "very, very seriously." If reports of chemical warfare are substantiated, McDonough told CNN, "this is a game changer, and we'll act accordingly."

My personal opinion is that there will be no action taken even if chemical weapons are found. It would be foolish to go to war if the public will not support it. Obama's approval would drop drastically, uprisings and protests would occur. China, Iran, and Russia would get involved, possibly starting another world conflict. Not a good idea to get involved
 
 
The University of Central Florida student who planned to massacre his fellow students had ordered more than $700 worth of weapons online, including two packages of ammunition, gun shooting DVDs, and accessories for his weapons that arrived on campus after the attack had already been thwarted. The packages contained even more ammunition for the attack that former UCF student James Oliver Seevakumaran, 30, planned to carry out Monday morning shortly after midnight. He already had a handgun, assault rifle, high capacity magazines, and four homemade bombs he hoped to use on fellow students after pulling the fire alarm and forcing them into the crowded hallways, according to police. The last item on the list was "give 'em hell," but Seevakumaran killed himself before killing any fellow students, Beary said. According to cops, the former business student pulled the fire alarm shortly after midnight, causing campus police to respond to the Tower 1 residence hall. He then returned to his apartment, where he pointed a rifle at roommate Arabo Babakhani.

UCF is fortunate this did not turn out to be anything severe. The impact another mass shooting could have on the public eye is tremendous. It would have been the worst shooting ever. 500 kids, all tired and exhausted, standing out in the dark. Probable death toll, in my opinion, would have been 200 at most.
 
 
Families of victims and prosecutors were stunned as T.J. Lane, the young man who killed 1 person and wounded 4 in a school shooting in February 2012, walked in and made some astonishing gestures. He walked in for the sentencing, took off his shirt, and revealed a white t-shirt with the word KILLER written on it. During when he was given a moment to speak, he made some rude gestures and obscene comments towards the victims. He even smiled and smirked when the lead prosecutor described him as an "evil person". When the parents of the kids' lives he ruined took the stand, he just smiled and grinned at them.
While i was unable to find an exact copy of his statement, at the end of his rant, he said "f*** all of you" and gave them the finger.

This kid is a clear psychopath and deserved life in prison, without parole. He got what he deserved. He will have a fun time in prison. I have watched many documentaries on prison life, and every inmate will go after and try to assault a person who either raped, beat, or murdered a child. He will have a rough road ahead of him, if he is not stabbed in prison in a few years
 
 
Cuban President Raul Castro said he will leave office in 2018 after being reelected for another five years. He made a speech a last year that said presidents should be limited to two years in office. The man tapped for the vice-president's position is supposedly the successor to Raul Castro. Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez is the first member of the generation after the Cuban revolution to reach the top positions held by old military commanders. Diaz-Canel headed a pro-government delegation to a conference in Venezuela. In his acceptance speech, he quoted his older brother. "Revolution is the sense of the historical moment, to change everything that must change. It is equality and freedom. It is to treat and treat others as human beings. It is to emancipate ourselves with our own efforts. It is to defy powerful forces in and out of the social and national context..."

This will be an interesting couple of years to see what develops in Cuba. If there is any sign of dissent in Diaz-Canel, there could be real trouble. Also, if Hugo Chavez dies before Castro leaves office, there could be some major policy changes for the socialist nation. Diaz-Canel will have some large shoes to fill and he will have to negotiate with the top military leaders, who led during the Revolution.
 
 
Venezuela is experiencing internal turmoil as debate rages on the possibility of President Chavez dying in the near future.  Chavez is currently receiving treatment for an undisclosed type of cancer in Havana  Cuba, but he has recently suffered complications. Having just been reelected to the presidency a few months ago and with his inauguration coming up in just a few days, CNN analysts have put together four different scenarios if Chavez dies in the coming weeks. If lawmakers declare Chavez permanently absent from office or he dies before January 10:
VP Nicolas Maduro would finish out the Chavez term ending next week. Then the head of Venezuela's National Assembly would assume the presidency. New elections have to be held within 30 days.
If Chavez is sworn in on January 10, but later dies or his illness forces lawmakers to declare him permanently absent from office:
The vice president assumes the presidency. New elections have to be held within 30 days.
If Chavez is unable to be sworn in before lawmakers on January 10:
Instead of taking the oath of office before the National Assembly, the constitution says Chavez can be sworn in before the country's Supreme Court. However, the wording of the constitution has opened an internal debate. Does an inauguration before the Supreme Court have to happen on January 10? Does it have to be in Venezuela? Who runs the country in the meantime?
The constitution isn't very clear about whether a swearing-in ceremony before the Supreme Court must take place on January 10.
If lawmakers declare Chavez temporarily absent from office:
Another official will assume the presidency for up to 90 days. Lawmakers can renew that for another 90 days. That means if lawmakers choose to declare Chavez temporarily absent, it can buy up to 180 days before they must decide whether Chavez is unable to rule.

One of the major factors in all of this is that the government has not released what kind of cancer Chavez actually has, making the prognosis much more difficult.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/03/world/americas/venezuela-chavez-scenarios/index.html?iref=allsearch

 
 
Syrian rebels took control of  a Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus today, with most of the pro-government fighters retreating to the center of the capital. The camp, called Yarmouk, is home to descendants of the wars between Israel and its neighbors. The camp actually has some of the nicest living conditions, and many professionals live there, like doctors and bankers.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) operates 20 elementary schools and eight preparatory schools in the camp. About 112,000 refugees currently live in the 0.81 square mile camp.
"All of the camp is under the control of the (rebel) Free Syrian Army," said a Palestinian activist in Yarmouk. He said clashes had stopped and the remaining PFLP fighters retreated to join Assad's forces massed on the northern edge of the camp.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/17/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE8AJ1FK20121217
 
 
The Syrian situation is rapidly deteriorating, with large amounts of fighting going on in the eastern half, which is the most populated. Aleppo and Damascus are the two hotspots for the fighting, Aleppo being seen as a rebel stronghold, and Damascus, the capital, as a government stronghold. There has been continual fighting in the towns of Aleppo, Ras al In, and other places. Syrian government forces have been using helicopters and fighter jets, some of which the rebels have shot down. There has also been heavy fighting around the Damascus Airport, which rebels claim is a main port for weapons being transported in from Iran. Two Turkish border towns have been hit by shelling, and the Turkish government has asked for Patriot missiles to defend its borders. Towns caught in the crossfire have been almost completely deserted because of the attacks between the rebels and the government.

I have created a map of the conflict hotspots that will be updated.https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=206668606633627029449.0004cff453053480d9b2e&msa=0  


 
 
Picture
Egyptian protesters surround and assault a riot policeman during protests in Tahrir Square on Monday, November 28th, in front of the U.S. Embassy.
Photo Credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh


The assembly writing Egypt's new constitution declares that it hopes to finish late Wednesday. Analysts say that this new constitution could allow President Mohammed Morsi to get out of the predicament he is currently in, after giving himself control over the judiciary in a surprise decree, causing protests and riots in the epicenter of last year's revolution, Tahrir Square. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood allies control the legislature, and could possibly justify Morsi's decree. However, the constitution would have to be ratified by public referendum. The Muslim Brotherhood is gambling that they can win enough votes to defeat the other groups, like the Coptic Orthodox Church and other non-Islamic parties. The Brotherhood has won all elections since the fall of Mubarak, albeit barely. 
The constitution could send the situation spiraling out of control again, or it could shore up Morsi's position. All the analysts can do is speculate, the world will have to wait and see what the next move will be.