Deadly escalation inside Syria’s de-escalation zone
International | Plus more details on North Korea’s new missile, the Flynn case, and political instability in Honduras
by Mindy Belz
Posted 12/04/17, 12:58 pm
SYRIA: “There is only escalation in this de-escalation zone,” said UN humanitarian coordinator Jan Egeland, as Syrian and Russian jets for a third week continued bombing Eastern Ghouta, the densely populated Damascus suburb where 400,000 residents are trapped. On Sunday, at least 27 people were killed and dozens injured, while talks in Geneva flagged over the last rebel-held area in the Damascus region, one of several “de-escalation” zones brokered by Russia. “It would be incredible if they cannot deliver a simple evacuation of mainly women and children, a 40-minute drive to Damascus city,” Egeland said.
NORTH KOREA: The test launch of a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile last week represents an entirely new type of missile capable of striking Washington, D.C., experts concluded. The rocket uses a two-stage engine that may be fueled by a new type of solid fuel. On Saturday, White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster warned the potential for war with North Korea is “increasing every day.”
About those antidote vials I reported on last week in Kim Jong Nam’s backpack. According to a Globe Trot source, they had to come from a friendly source in Malaysia, where the half-brother to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was traveling at the time, suggesting Kim Jong Nam knew his life was in danger and sources outside North Korea wanted to protect him. Kim was assassinated last February in the Kuala Lumpur airport in a VX nerve agent attack. Two women are standing trial for smearing the agent in his face, but four men caught on cameras got away. The trial is scheduled to break this month and resume early next year.
RUSSIA: From one standpoint, it looks like former national security adviser Michael Flynn lied to the FBI about doing his job, and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has not yet indicated it has a case for the Trump administration colluding with the Russians over the 2016 presidential election. It’s not unusual for an incoming administration’s national security transition team to establish contacts with high-ranking counterparts overseas. But lying to the FBI is a crime, and if the Russians were up to something, it would open a top official like Flynn—with his top security clearance—to blackmail. In other words, they would have something on him, and you can’t have your national security adviser compromised with the Russians. That was the warning Department of Justice officials gave the Trump administration in January, but Flynn continued to serve another 18 days before he was fired for making false statements.
HONDURAS: The government suspended constitutional rights and called for the military to enforce a curfew and disperse protesters over the weekend as a contested election deepened into a political crisis. But there’s growing concern the leftist opposition is borrowing tactics from the late Hugo Chavez, which is sure to lead to greater misery.
NEW ZEALAND: Aukland authorities canceled ferries during king tides brought on by Sunday’s supermoon, as dramatic low tides made water too shallow in Half Moon Bay for safe passage. See photos of the supermoon from around the world.
CANADA: This dog rescue in Saskatchewan, whew.
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