Thursday, May 31, 2012

Middle East Update:

West May Be Forced To Seize Assad's Toxic Gas Stockpile

International troops could be forced to intervene in Syria if the collapse of President Bashar al-Assad's regime were to leave stockpiles of his chemical weapons vulnerable to terrorists, western diplomatic sources have told the Daily Telegraph.

Syria possesses hundreds of tons of VX, Sarin and mustard gas. Western governments are concerned about the security of these munitions if Mr Assad's regime falls or loses control over the relevant sites.

"The thing that privately has got people very worried is chemical weapon stocks," said the diplomat. "Were it to be the case that the regime did start to lose control of the security environment, and it looked as though it wasn't able to secure those sites, then that would be a game-changer."

Iran is smuggling weapons to Damascus and Beirut via commercial aircraft, according to a report aired Wednesday by German broadcaster ZDF.

The report cited Western security sources and other unspecified information that the TV station had obtained.

The type of weaponry transported was not mentioned, but the shipments were apparently paid for by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which supports the Bashar Assad regime in Syria and the terror organization Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Two carriers were implicated in the report, Iran Air and Yas Air.

Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari says the country will step up the production of missile-launcher vessels for its naval fleet.

“All the equipment needed for the Navy, including missile-launcher vessels and communication devices, will be produced rapidly by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (started March 20, 2012),” he said n Wednesday.

Iran has razed two buildings near a suspected nuclear-trigger test site inside of its sprawling Parchin military complex.

Satellite images taken on May 25 confirm the destruction of two buildings IAEA inspectors have sought access to were published on Wednesday by the Institute for Science and International Security.

“These activities raise further concerns of Iranian efforts to destroy evidence of alleged past nuclear weaponization,” the Washington-based ISIS said in a six-page written analysis.

Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon on Wednesday said "Iran is deceiving the West all the way to a bomb."

For "the last three months, while it talks with world powers, Tehran has significantly accelerated the pace of Iranian nuclear enrichment, Yaalon said at an Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv

“I see no evidence whatsoever that Iran is ready to end its nuclear program,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said shortly before last week's talks in Bagdad.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also told reporters last week he was "skeptical" that Iran was serious and charged Tehran was using the talks to buy time for nuclear weapons research.

Golan warned that the battle being waged in Syria between opponents of the Assad regime and Assad loyalists may have an effect on what is happening in Israel.

“Al-Qaeda related factors that are active there now and working against the regime may operate against us over time,” he said, according to the Channel 2 report. “The Syrian threat to Israel requires attention. It will not happen tomorrow morning, but it can occur within a few months.”

Golan added, “Syria has weapons of mass destruction along with a very heavy arsenal of weapons, including surface-to-ground missiles and chemical weapons. The fact that Syria is a storehouse of weapons which fuels terrorists in the region is very unsettling.”

He noted that, should the need arise for the IDF to launch a military operation in Syria, “The IDF has the power to take over the rocket launching areas that threaten the homefront in a relatively short period of time and bring about the defeat of Hizbullah in each such area.”

Also see:

Bilderberg Update

Following the Bilderberg group is germane to prophecy watching because this group is so powerful and involves most of the highly influential people on this planet. It isn't much of a stretch to see this group setting the stage for the Tribulation, possibly picking and/or paving the road for the two key figures who will emerge during this period, namely the antichrist and the false prophet. It's hard to imagine that the Bilderberg won't have some involvement in shaping events as the world enters the Tribulation. Below are some of the articles which are coming out today, at the beginning of this year's meeting:

Over the next several days, more than a hundred of the most powerful people on the planet will attend a secret conference at a hotel in Chantilly, Virgina. Some of the biggest names in politics and business will be there. The hotel is going to be completely locked down and will be swarmed by hordes of security guards carrying machine guns. This conference is so important that even the U.S. Secret Service is rumored to be involved in providing security.

These meetings have been held yearly since 1954, but no record of what goes on at them has ever been officially released to the public and all the attendees are sworn to secrecy. Decisions made at this conference will affect the lives of every man, woman and child on the planet. But the vast majority of Americans will have no idea that the Bilderberg Group is meeting about 20 miles from Washington D.C. this year because the mainstream media in the United States ignores the Bilderberg Group almost entirely year after year. Based on the coverage it gets from the U.S. media, you would think that the Bilderberg Group was a non-event. But if some of the most powerful people on the planet are getting together to discuss our future, don't you think the mainstream media should be covering it?

Good questions.

The Bilderberg Group is much more than just a social club. It has played a major role in shaping the direction of the world since it was created in 1954. The Bilderberg Group helped create the European Union and it helped create the euro. This year efforts to save the euro are rumored to be high on the agenda.

Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Prince Charles, David Cameron, Tony Blair, Henry Kissinger, Bill Gates, Angela Merkel, Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, Rick Perry, David Rockefeller, Herman van Rompuy, Jean-Claude Trichet, Jeff Bezos, Chris R. Hughes, Eric Schmidt, Craig J. Mundie, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Richard Perle, Paul Volcker, Lawrence Summers, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden

Isn't that enough star power to get the attention of the mainstream media?

Indeed. To further this absurdity, take a look at the "news" that bumps any information about the Bilderberg meeting from the news:

For example, right now on USA Today you can find the following headlines on the front page....

-Trilogies spring up on reading lists

-Spelling still matters in era of texting, spell check

-Many chain stores now add a toy aisle for adults

Perhaps other news sources are discussing more important news.

Then again, perhaps not.

On the front page of CNN, you can currently find the following headlines....

-Airline seat squeeze: It's not just you

-Group: Prove Romney's not a unicorn

-Scientists confirm 'old person smell'

Chantilly's Westfields Marriott hotel is the site of an “unprecedented” security crackdown as the world’s richest and most powerful arrive for the annual Bilderberg conference.

Hundreds of demonstrators are expected to protest the highly secretive gathering, which kicks off Thursday and lasts through the weekend. The off-the-record meeting, well known in conspiracy lore but typically given little to no media attention each year, once again will bring together heads of state, billionaire bankers, leading businessmen and other international movers and shakers.

A perimeter of about a half-mile has been set up around the Northern Virginia hotel, and all non-Bilderberg guests reportedly were kicked out of their rooms. A photographer for The Washington Times was told by law enforcement Wednesday that any attempt to get close to the building would result in arrest.

The official Bilderberg guest list is kept under wraps, as are the specific topics for discussion. Rumored to be at the top of the agenda this year is the European financial crisis.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Greek Minister of Finance George Papaconstantinou were reportedly among those in attendance at the 2011 meeting in Switzerland.

Global business titans, government officials and political figures rounded out the guest list of more than 100, though skeptics suspect dozens of names, especially of high-profile individuals, are kept off of it.

A Madrid-based investigative journalist who has spent years researching the Bilderberg group – that shadowy organization of high-level leaders in finance and government – is warning that there’s no “conspiracy theory” behind the group: “It’s a conspiracy reality.”

Daniel Estulin, author of “The True Story of the Bilderberg Group,” contends people should care because the idea behind each and every Bilderberg meeting “is to create what they themselves call the aristocracy of purpose between European and North American elites on the best way to manage the planet.”

“In other words,” Estulin told WND in an email exchange in which he answered questions, “the creation of a global network of giant cartels, more powerful than any nation on Earth, destined to control the necessities of life of the rest of humanity.”

The Eurozone is Bilderberg's biggest project, but it's been looking distinctly shaky of late. What's to be done? You can feel the unwillingness of Bilderberg to countenance a 'Grexit' in the stern words of Bilderberg spokesperson, the UK member of parliament for Rushcliffe, Kenneth Clarke. To leave the Euro, says Clarke, would be "disastrous" for the Greeks. "If they get a hopeless lot of rather cranky extremists elected at the next election then they will default on their debt." Clarke took the time to brand eurosceptic British MPs "right-wing nationalists", and euroscepticism itself "irresponsible".

Remember the mantra "Big Crisis = Big Change"?

Clarke's most telling remark is that: "It's going to take a crisis, an absolute crisis, to make Europe's leaders act." This week's Economist magazine agrees: "For the past six decades, steps forward to greater European union have taken place at moments of incipient crisis."

And what does a "Big Crisis" predictably lead to? Why, more centralized power and control of course!

"A consensus is slowly emerging that, whether a Greek exit is to be averted or weathered, there will have to be a greater level of integration in the euro zone, with tighter constraints on the freedom of national governments."

This message, that out of the struggle will come a new strength, seems to be the Bilderbergian line. For example, EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia (whom we spotted at Bilderberg 2010) says we need now to "reinforce the European Parliament's role" which "will also strengthen the role of the [EU] Commission". So his solution to the crisis: "I need a bigger office."

The Economist says that if the "elite venture" of Europe is to survive and thrive, "Europe's elites" have got their work cut out. It ventures to give the elites some "unashamedly technocratic" advice on how to forge their closer union, but it needn't worry, the technocrats of Bilderberg seems to have the matter in hand. Mario Monti (unelected Italian PM, Bilderberg steering committee) said this week: "Europe can have euro bonds soon."

Also see:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Iran: Military Intervention In Syria Would Engulf Israel

Assad and Ahmadinejad are already closely aligned, and now we are hearing the same threats from both individuals. This article, as reported by the Jerusalem Post is revealing for a number of reasons, but first we see interesting quotes from the article:

As the US hints at bypassing the UN to end Syria's 14-month assault, Iranian parliament speaker warns: "Ash rising from the flames would definitely envelop the Zionist regime," 'Tehran Times' reports.

Any crisis caused by a military intervention in Syria would engulf Israel, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani warned Wednesday, the Tehran Times reported.

Below we see the basis for believing there may be some kind of military intervention in Syria:

US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Wednesday that there were three ways the Syrian conflict could end.

The first would be if Syrian President Bashar Assad's government decided to comply with its obligations under Annan's six-point peace plan - stopping its military assaults on Syrian towns, withdrawing heavy weapons, returning troops to barracks and talking with the opposition on a "political transition."

The second option would involve the council taking action to pressure Damascus to fully comply with the Annan plan, she said.

As the article states, both of the above options are highly unlikely:

Neither of those scenarios appear likely because Damascus has shown no interest in living up to its commitments and Russia has made clear that any Security Council moves to step up the pressure on Assad's government through sanctions are out of the question

"In the absence of either of those two scenarios there seems to be only one other alternative, and that is indeed the worst case," Rice said, adding that it was unfortunately looking like "the most probable."

In such a case, Rice said, the Annan plan would be dead and the Syrian violence would become "a proxy conflict with arms flowing in from all sides."

"And members of this council and members of the international community are left with the option only of having to consider whether they're prepared to take actions outside of the Annan plan and the authority of this council," she said.

She did not specify what kind of "actions" she meant. The United States has led past military interventions that were not authorized by the Security Council, namely in Kosovo and Iraq.

The obvious implication is some kind of military intervention; one could envision the beginnings of such intervention as being similar to Libya, when a no-fly zone was implemented early in the process.

So in summary we see threats from Iran - as directed towards Israel, in the event of any outside military intervention. At the same time, we see slightly veiled threats from the U.S. to engage in some kind of military intervention. These dots are pretty easy to connect; the only problem is, once again Israel is directly in the line of fire.

Larijani added this comment:

“US military officials probably have a poor understanding of themselves and regional issues because Syria is in no way similar to Libya, and (the effects of) creating another Benghazi in Syria would spread to Palestine, and ash rising from the flames would definitely envelop the Zionist regime,” the Tehran Times quoted Larijani as saying.

This article also makes a point that we've seen before. Once the first domino (aka "tipping point") falls, the next ones will fall rapidly. In this instance, if there is indeed military intervention in Syria, Iran will get involved and Israel will be targeted. If this happens, then the epic biblical battles that are pending for the end of this age are looming.

Jesus described this era perfectly:

"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars". What a perfect description of the Middle East in these last days.

Of equal importance however, He also gave us a significant reminder:

"but see to it that you are not alarmed." (Matthew 24:6).

No, we shouldn't be alarmed. As seen in the scriptures of Luke 21:28-31, we should be looking up for His imminent return and it is this anticipation that gives us the encouragement that the apostle Paul spoke of in 1 Thessalonians 5:11. With the assurance of Jesus' return, we have nothing to fear and no reason for alarm.

In The News:

Agenda 21 To Be Discussed At Bilderberg Conference

The attendance of Alberta Premier and global warming alarmist Alison Redford at this year’s Bilderberg conference, during which she will discuss “ecological challenges,” confirms that Agenda 21 and the bid to re-brand the stuttering climate change power grab will be core issues at the elitist confab set to take begin tomorrow.

“According to a government news release, Redford will meet with a number of individuals to discuss topics like monetary policy, ecological challenges and responsible development of natural resources,” reports CBC News.

Her appearance represents yet another example of how Bilderberg is not merely a talking shop but an active consensus-making forum for people in positions of power. Redford will be scheming with power brokers from foreign countries in complete secrecy and with total disregard for her democratic obligations to the Canadian people.

Redford’s advocacy for more controls on carbon emissions is directly in line with the Obama administration’s war against America’s coal industry and the wider Bilderberg agenda for a “post-industrial revolution,” where energy use will be severely restricted in the name of saving the earth, leading to plummeting living standards.

The United Nations’ Agenda 21 project demands that member nations adopt “sustainable development” policies that are little more than a disguise for the reintroduction of neo-feudalism and only serve to reduce living standards and quality of life.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that the Iranian threat has reached a point that constitutes "a sword on the neck" of Israel.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Institute for National Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv, Barak stated that the Israeli leadership felt like the Jewish State had a sword to its neck prior to the 1967 Six-Day War, and felt their was no choice but to act. He suggested that the Iranian threat may have come to this point, or be nearing this point.

When speaking of nuclear capabilities, he added, the ability to obtain the weapon is enough to constitute a sword on the neck. If Iran has already obtained nuclear weapons, it will be too late to act, Barak said.

Barak said that while "nobody wants to go to war," Iran was "methodically" working towards nuclear weapons capability. He reiterated the Israeli leadership's stance that Tehran is buying time to place themselves in a position to pursue nuclear weapons.

Former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said on Tuesday that military action in Iran would be less dangerous to Israel than if Iran obtains a nuclear bomb.

Speaking at the same conference, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed his disappointment over the way the negotiations between world powers and Iran, over its disputed nuclear program, were going.

He added, “Iran should stop all enrichment of nuclear material, it should remove all thematerial that has been enriched up to now and it should shut down the underground nuclear facility in Qom. Only an explicit Iranian commitment to realize all three of these requirements and ensuring their implementation can stop the Iranian nuclear program. This should be the target of the negotiations, but I say with regret that this is not what is demanded from Iran today.”

Iran is convinced that Israeli and the United States are unable to stage an attack on its nuclear facilities, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) Wednesday morning.

He added that Iran is only trying to buy time while it tries to reach the point where it cannot be successfully attacked and can develop the capability to manufacture a nuclear weapon.

Speaking at an INSS conference at Tel Aviv University, Barak warned, “The Iranian threat is significant and is not disappearing. We are at a fateful crossroads."

Barak declared, “The government of Israel is responsible for taking decisions on the future of the security f the country – and I carefully add for the Jewish people, most of whom live in our tiny country.”

An Egyptian court upheld a three-year sentence against a teenage Christian student for posting a drawing on hisFacebook page that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohamed, Egypt Independent reported.

The Assiut Court of Appeals said that it has found 16-year-old Gamal Abdu Massoud guilty of defaming religion, state-run news service MENAreported on Tuesday.

Juvenile court sentenced Massoud to three years in prision in April, after he published the ‘blasphemous’ cartoons in December of that year.

“Assiut child’s court ordered the jailing of Gamal Abdou Massoud … for three years after he insulted Islam and published and distributed pictures that insulted Islam and its Prophet,” the court said in a statement seen by Reuters

Russian media outlets are reporting that Sergey Aslanyan, a famous journalist and radio presenter, was brutally attacked outside his apartment Monday after making comments insulting to Islam.

“The Prophet Mohammed, as we know, was not a religious figure. He was a businessman, but after getting considerable financial support [he] built plans as to how to get to the top,” Aslanyan reportedly said. He also speculated that Mohammed had some form of sexual disorder.

Aslanyan was reportedly slashed at and stabbed fifteen to twenty times by an attacker shouting “You are Allah’s enemy!” though witnesses say there may have been more than one attacker.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Reality: "Iran Is Playing Obama Like A Stradivarius"

That may be the quote of the year, and certainly one worth remembering. The sad fact lies in the truth of this statement.

Israel/Netanyahu has reluctantly, and even hesitantly, agreed to step back from the military brink with Iran to allow Obama a six-month window within which to win an agreement with Iran in which the latter would abandon it’s endeavor to create a nuclear bomb.

It’s not going well for Obama.

Iran is playing Obama like a Stradivarius

Iran is playing Obama like a Stradivarius. Plus, Obama, as the naive kid on the block, has invited Russia into the negotiation so than any deal with Iran will include Russia, thereby bringing a third party influence to the mix. (Actually, considering that Israel has given up none of its stake in the deal, there will now be FOUR countries involved in the negotiations even though Israel is silent.)

Think about it a moment: Russia backs Iran AND Syria. Iran Backs Syria, as well. Obama’s blunder has now connected BOTH issues in such a way that the problem with a single country, Iran, is now a regional problem making the matter much, much, more complicated than before. It also turns the heat on Israel up even more.
And the next statement is worth remembering in the coming weeks:

To be a fly on the wall within Israel’s government, (Netanyahu’s office, perhaps) would, I suspect, be very, well, interesting!

It is well to remember that when Israel is publicly silent, that is when Israel is most dangerous to her enemies.
And Israel is very silent right now. Just some food for thought.

Obama has rolled the dice and he is losing this crap game.

Why Mr. Obama seems always afraid to go it alone, to stand tall, like a man, and confront America’s enemies rather than seek refuge in numbers and/or behind the skirts of America’s allies—and in Russia’s case—America’s enemies—is an utter mystery. Does he not understand it makes him, and America, appear weak? Does he not understand that in world politics perception is extremely important? Does he not understand that he is embarrassing his countrymen?

I have lived through a lot of US Presidential administrations and I have yet to experience an American presidential administration as TIMID as the Obama administration. Considering the timidity of the Carter administration, that is saying a LOT.

No wonder Netanyahu is frustrated. Bibi walks, talks, and acts like a man, an Alpha male, if you will. I would expect he would prefer to interact with an American with the same traits. Alas, he is stymied with Obama, an obvious metrosexual male—and it must be exasperating, infuriating, and confounding, all at the same time.

In the meantime, the mess Obama is making of the Iranian situation is doing absolutely nothing toward moving the Iranians off the dime. Indeed, it would appear that it is only muddying the waters even more. In the end, when military action is finally taken it is this kind of “dance of the diplomatic dunces” that will run the death toll upwards and extend the military action longer than would have been necessary otherwise.

“The Iranian nuclear impasse and the Syrian civil war are more tightly interlinked than ever by President Barack Obama’s decision to cooperate with Moscow for solutions of both - a partnership that promises the eventual three-way carving-up of Middle East influence. The six-month break Israel allowed Obama for diplomatic solutions before exercising its military option, gives Tehran the freedom to defy the six powers in nuclear negotiations and ties US hands against Bashar Assad’s atrocities. Obama’s diplomatic path is already cluttered with obstacles.”
And lastly:

In the meantime, there are reports (by Reuters) from the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) that Iran has enough high grade uranium to produce at least five (5) nuclear bombs. The report by Reuters continued: “This is nearly 750 kg more than in the previous IAEA report issued in February, and ISIS said Iran’s monthly production had risen by roughly a third.”

Courtesy of the Carter administration, Iran has much experience in “negotiating” with an American president and, as a result has little, if any, respect for the office of the US President. They will do (or say) whatever they feel necessary to maintain these on-going “talks” while, behind the curtain, they are continuing to enrich uranium as quickly and efficiently as possible. When they are ready, or when they grow tired of the charade, they will pull the plug on the talks and leave Obama slack-jawed wondering what happened.

In the meantime, Israel would be well advised to maintain its military on a high state of alert while seriously considering canceling the deal with Obama in favor of the continued existence of their country.

So we had important talks with the Iranian regime and reached an important agreement to have more important talks with them next month. No one on our team seems the least bit embarrassed, nor do any of the pundits who predicted that some sort of nuke deal would be agreed on. Indeed, most of the coverage that I’ve seen has to do with Israel: will they attack or not?

On the basis of my mother’s dictum that repetition is the basis of all learning, let’s go through the basic principles again:

* Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is not interested in a deal with the West unless it is clearly and unequivocally a total Western surrender that ends sanctions, confirms our retreat from the Middle East, and acknowledges Iran as the regional hegemon;

* The current game–call it “around the world in 180 days”–provides the diplomats with good food, luxurious accommodations, and pictures in the papers, and it leaves the Iranians free to enrich uranium, build missiles and warheads, and kill us and anyone inclined to work with us. That is the Real War and no Western leader ever talks about it;

* Sanctions will neither stop the Iranian nuclear program nor stop the Real War.

It’s very disappointing and very scary. If you wanted to create a strategy to lose the Real War, you’d be hard pressed to do better.

Theoretically, we should be dismayed at the facts cited above. But we are not dismayed - rather we are following Jesus' instructions to look for His return as we watch these generational signs unfold. Its time to bring back a couple of scriptures that we should never forget during these darkening days:

"When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:28)

"Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near." (Luke 21:31)

Are you doing as Jesus instructed? Are you focused on His return, or are you becoming anxious and worried at the state of affairs in this world?

We also must remember the instructions given to the Thessalonian church - that we are to "serve the living and true God", and:

" wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." (1 Thessalonians 1:10)

Amen. Jesus knew that we'd see some of what is coming - and in His infinite love for us, He gave us instructions - instructions that He knew would alleviate fear and concern:

To look for and focus on His return and to remember that He will rescue us from the coming wrath.


Syria vs Iran: First Tipping Point?

Just as the focus had shifted to Iran and their stalling tactics - something recognized by Israel, as they prepare to launch a military attack against the nuclear facilities, Syria steps up to the plate as the next tipping point. Keep in mind the fact that Assad promised that any 'outside intervention' into Syria's affairs would result in an attack on Israel:

The US's top military officer has warned Syria it could face armed intervention as international outrage grows over the massacre of women and children by tanks and artillery in Houla.

General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said that following the UN security council's condemnation of the slaughter – in which more than 100 people were killed, many of them children – there needed to be increased diplomatic pressure on Damascus. But he added that the US would be prepared to act militarily if it was "asked to do so".
"There is always a military option," he told Fox News. "You'll always find military leaders to be somewhat cautious about the use of force, because we're never entirely sure what comes out on the other side. But that said, it may come to a point with Syria because of the atrocities."

Was this a 'false-flag' operation? Not that the Syrian government should be trusted, but the article below isn't the first one to raise some credible questions.

Syrian authorities on Monday blamed Islamist militants for the massacre of 108 men, women and children in the town of Houla and denied UN and witness accounts that army tanks were in the area at the time.

In a letter to the UN Security Council published by state media, the Foreign Ministry said the Syrian army had clashed with hundreds of armed men who it said committed Friday's massacre. The ministry said the killers used knives, which it called a "signature" of Islamist militant attacks.

"Not a single tank enteredthe region and the Syrian army was in a state of self-defense using the utmost degree of self control and appropriate response, and anything other than this is pure lies," the ministry's letter said.

"The terrorist armed groups ... entered with the purpose of killing and the best proof of that is the killing by knives, which is the signature of terrorist groups who massacre according to the Islamist way."

Houla is mostly populated by Sunni Muslims - from Syria's majority community which has led the revolt - while many of the surrounding villages are dominated by Alawites, the offshoot of Shi'ite Islam that provides most of Assad's ruling cadre.

The escalating "atrocities" in Syria could end up triggering a military intervention, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told Fox News on Monday -- following the massacre that left more than 100 dead.

The international community has scrambled to respond to the violence over the weekend, with the recognition that an international peace plan has failed to stem the fighting. The U.N. Security Council called an emergency session Sunday, with its members unanimously supporting a statement condemning the killings and blaming the Bashar al-Assad regime. Meanwhile, U.N. envoy Kofi Annan traveled to Syria for talks.

It's unclear how seriously military options are being discussed. All along, administration officials have pushed more for sanctions, diplomacy and international pressure to compel Assad to leave power -- warning that a military intervention in Syria could be far harder to control than one in Libya, which was relatively isolated both diplomatically and geographically.

Back to Iran:

Meanwhile, around the world:

At least eight people were killed in an earthquake in northern Italy on Tuesday, civil protection authorities said, predicting the number would rise.

The earthquake came nine days after a quake in the same region killed seven people.

"People are very scared. It's been shaking non-stop for the past week," said journalist Andrea Vogt, who was near the epicenter.

"Some buildings which were damaged already in last week's earthquake were affected again today. San Felice sul Panaro and Mirandola registered most of the damage," a spokewoman said.

Some train services have been suspended for safety reasons, and high speed trains from Bologna to Milan and Florence, among others, are running at slower speeds, train operators said. There are no trains stuck on tracks, Trenitalia said.

There have been at least three aftershocks since the Tuesday morning earthquake, the Italian geological service said.

Northern Italy is the heartland of the country's manufacturing industry.

"It's going to have an economic impact as well as a human impact," Vogt said of the earthquake.

The United States Geological Survey said the quake on Tuesday, which struck at 9 a.m. local time (0700 GMT), was centered 25 miles northwest of the city of Bologna. It hit the area where a magnitude-6.0 temblor killed seven people earlier this month — and just as citizens had begun to resume some semblance of normality.

The news agency ANSA reported that nine people had died, while news agency LaPresse said others were buried under the rubble of collapsed homes and factories.

Monti said at the time of the quake he was meeting with emergency officials in Rome to discuss dealing with the impact of the earlier quake.

What passes for normal at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant today would have caused shudders among even the most sanguine of experts before an earthquake and tsunami set off the world's second most serious nuclear crisis after Chernobyl.

The public's fears about the pool have grown in recent months as some scientists have warned that it has the most potential for setting off a new catastrophe. The three nuclear reactors that suffered meltdowns are in a more stable state, but frequent quakes continue to rattle the region.

The worries gained new traction in recent days after the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, said it had found a slight bulge in one of the walls of the reactor building, stoking fears over the building's safety.

The worst-case situations for reactor No. 4 would be for the pool to run dry if there is another problem with the cooling system and the rods catch fire, releasing enormous amounts of radioactive material, or that fission restarts if the metal panels that separate the rods are knocked over in a quake.

Across the vast Pacific, the mighty bluefin tuna carried radioactive contamination that leaked from Japan's crippled nuclear plant to the shores of the United States 6,000 miles away - the first time a huge migrating fish has been shown to carry radioactivity such a distance.

"We were frankly kind of startled," said Nicholas Fisher, one of the researchers reporting the findings online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The levels of radioactive cesium were 10 times higher than the amount measured in tuna off the California coast in previous years.

The bluefin spawn off Japan, and many migrate across the Pacific Ocean. Tissue samples taken from 15 bluefin caught in August, five months after the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi, all contained reactor byproducts cesium-134 and cesium-137 at levels that produced radiation about 3% higher than natural background sources

“The tuna packaged it up and brought it across the world’s largest ocean,” said marine ecologist Daniel Madigan at Stanford University, who led the study team. “We were definitely surprised to see it at all and even more surprised to see it in every one we measured.”


“We found that absolutely every one of them had comparable concentrations of cesium-134 and cesium-137,” said marine biologist Nicholas Fisher at Stony Brook University in New York state, who was part of the study group.

Bluefin tuna that journeyed last year were exposed to radiation for about a month. The upcoming travelers have been swimming in radioactive waters for a longer period. How this will affect concentrations of contamination remains to be seen.