This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com
- Syria grounds air force after pilot defects to Lebanon
- U.S. Ambassador to Syria uses Twitter to encourage defections
- Report: U.S. helping funnel arms to Syria's rebels
- Protests and name-calling dominate Cairo Egypt
- Economic news on Thursday goes from bad to worse
Syria grounds air force after pilot defects to Lebanon
Syrian President Bashar Assad Thursday night ordered his entire Air Force fleet of fighter bombers grounded, for fear that more pilots might defect after Col. Hasan Merhi al-Hamadeh defected to Jordan aboard a MiG-21. The MiG was near Lebanon's border when it suddenly pivoted at a sharp angle, headed toward Lebanon at a low altitude to evade radar and interception. The pilot made an emergency landing in Lebanon, got off the plane, shed his uniform and prayed. According to Syria's defense ministry:
"The pilot is considered a deserter and a traitor to his country, and to his military honor, and he will be sanctioned under military rules. Relevant contacts have been made with the authorities in Jordan in order to recover the jet on which the traitor pilot made his getaway."
Lebanon granted al-Hamadeh refugee status in Lebanon, and indicated that a decision on whether to return the plan to Syria would be made later. Daily Star (Beirut) and Debka
U.S. Ambassador to Syria uses Twitter to encourage defections
Robert Ford is still the US ambassador to Syria, even though he was pulled out of Syria four months ago for his own safety. Now he's using a Twitter account to encourage Syria's armed forces to defect and to warn them they're at risk of being prosecuted for crimes against humanity:
"The officers and soldiers of the Syrian military have a choice to make. Do they want to expose themselves to criminal prosecution by supporting the barbaric actions of the Assad regime against the Syrian people?
[The alternative is to] help secure the role of the professional military in a democratic Syria by supporting the Syrian people and their transition to an inclusive, tolerant and representative democracy that respects human rights and equal, fair treatment for all components of the Syrian nation."
Report: U.S. helping funnel arms to Syria's rebels
News reports indicate that CIA operatives are working along the Turkey-Syria border help to funnel arms, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank weapons, to opposition groups seen as most friendly to the U.S. The White House told reporters that the U.S. does not provide "lethal aid" to Syria's opposition, but the arms themselves are most likely coming from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. VOA
Protests and name-calling dominate Cairo Egypt
Thousands of protesters filled Tahrir Square in Egypt for what they promised would be an "open ended sit-in," demanding that the military undo its latest constitutional decree, giving them almost absolute power, and that Parliament be reinstated, as it's the only democratically elected institution in the government. Egypt's Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission announced on Wednesday that the final results of Sunday's presidential election will not be announced on Thursday, as previously scheduled, but will be postponed a few days. Many protesters believe that this is part of the army's plan to keep control of the government, and prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from gaining any political power. The army's candidate, former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, is accusing the protesters of trying to blackmail the Electoral Commission by demanding that Mohamed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, be elected. Reuters
Economic news on Thursday goes from bad to worse
Ratings agency Moody's downgraded 15 of the world's biggest banks on Thursday. The announcement capped a day of bad economic news. Slowing manufacturing data in China, Europe, and America indicate that the world is headed for a recession. Generational Dynamics predicts that the world is headed for a major financial crisis.
and CS Monitor