Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
Citing accounts from humanitarian organizations alongside other intelligence, Secretary of State John Kerry stated Monday that it was “undeniable” that Bashar al-Assad’s regime had used chemical weapons in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus.
Kerry noted that the Syrian government’s decision to grant U.N. investigators access to the site of the attack came “too late to be credible.”
The use of chemical weapons against civilians has for many months been the amorphous “red line” cited by the Obama administration as the point at which the U.S. would militarily intervene, even though for some time reports from both sides of the bloody civil war have claimed the use of nerve gas.
Whether Kerry’s announcement constitutes a claim that the president’s “red line” has been officially crossed, however, remains unclear (evidencing again how loosely defining concepts of “red lines” and “intervention” permits for a grand application of ideological condemnation and grandstanding before any realpolitik). Indeed Speaker John Boehner was swift to say that the Syrian government had now crossed the red line for intervention, but it’s not so clear what that “red line” ever was.
As ABC News noted:
The use of chemical weapons, itself, was not exactly Obama’s original “red line,” as he laid it out during a news conference at the White House on Aug. 20, 2012. For purposes of expediency and practicality, media outlets have simplified the “red line” as this: If Syria deployed chemical weapons against its own people, it would have crossed a threshold with the White House.
But what Obama said was a little less clear.
“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” the president said a year ago last week. “That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”
It was also unclear what the consequences of crossing that “red line” would be.
As such the U.S.’s precise next move in regards to Syria remains unknown, despite Kerry’s forceful words Monday. However, it’s now undeniable that a Western consensus is forming — aligned with Israel — behind military intervention.
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email email@example.com.More Natasha Lennard.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.