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Monday, May 6, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Syria issues warning after Israeli airstrikes - The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned Sunday that a series of powerful Israeli airstrikes near the Syrian capital opened the door to “all the options,” underscoring the possibility that Syria’s civil war could spill across regional borders.
Assad’s cabinet held an emergency meeting Sunday after explosions lit up the sky on the outskirts of Damascus on Friday and early Sunday.

Syrian state media said the air attack had targeted a military and scientific research facility. The Israeli military declined to comment on the strikes, but the Associated Press quoted an anonymous Middle East intelligence official as confirming that the research facility was hit.

The airstrikes targeted Fateh-110 missiles, which have precision guidance systems and may have been destined for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, the official said. The Washington Post has more here.


U.N. says rebels, not Assad, appear to have used chemical weapons - United Nations human rights investigators said Sunday they have gathered testimony from outside Syria suggesting rebels, not Bashar Assad's regime, may have used chemical weapons.

“Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,” Carla Del Ponte, a member of the independent commission of inquiry on Syria, told Swiss-Italian television. “This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.”

The allegations will likely make it harder for the Obama administration to justify taking a more active role in the two-year-old civil war on the side of the opposition. The administration has said in recent days that chemical weapons appeared to have been used in Syria, which would violate the “red line” Obama set for Assad's forces. has more here.


Obama begins new jobs tour - President Barack Obama will travel on Thursday to Austin, Texas, the first stop in a new series of day trips designed to draw attention to policies and programs that help spur the economy, and build support for his economic policies, the White House said on Sunday.

In Austin, Obama will visit a high school and a technology company, and will talk with entrepreneurs and workers about proposals he made earlier this year to boost jobs and training.

Despite often saying that his top priority is creating more jobs, Obama's proposals have been overshadowed by debates over reforms to gun and immigration laws as well as efforts to reduce the deficit.

Unemployment in the United States fell to 7.5 percent last month, the lowest level since Obama took office. has more here.


Sanford, Colbert Busch in close race for S. Carolina congressional seat - The former governor leads Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the special election for South Carolina's 1st congressional district by one point, 47 percent to 46 percent, according to a new survey by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling released Sunday, a race the pollster deems "too close to call." The result marks a 10 point reversal from PPP's last poll of the district two weeks ago, in which Colbert Busch carried a comfortable 50 percent to 41 percent lead after Sanford became mired in the midst of new trespassing allegations by his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford.

Despite his recent setbacks, the poll suggests Sanford has had success tying Colbert Busch to House Democrats -- in particular Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) -- who remains deeply unpopular with the first district electorate. While the race is still up for grabs, it appears Sanford has the "momentum headed into election day" on May 7, according to PPP.

The poll surveyed 1,239 likely voters on May 4th and 5th and its margin of error is +/-2.8%. has more here.


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