The Syrian rebels: Are they really who we should be supporting?

Shorter Question Everything

Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma in West: The Syrian rebels posed casually, standing over their prisoners with firearms pointed down at the shirtless and terrified men. The prisoners, seven in all, were captured Syrian soldiers. Five were trussed, their backs marked with red welts. They kept their faces pressed to the dirt as the rebels’ commander recited a bitter revolutionary verse. “For fifty years, they are companions to corruption,” he said. “We swear to the Lord of the Throne, that this is our oath: We will take revenge.” The moment the poem ended, the commander, known as “the Uncle,” fired a bullet into the back of the first prisoner’s head. His gunmen followed suit, promptly killing all the men at their feet. This scene, documented in a video smuggled out of Syria a few days ago by a former rebel who grew disgusted by the killings, offers a dark insight into how many rebels have adopted some of the same brutal and ruthless tactics as the regime they are trying to overthrow. As the United States debates whether to support the Obama administration’s proposal that Syrian forces should be attacked for using chemical weapons against civilians, this video, shot in the spring of 2012, joins a growing body of evidence of an increasingly criminal environment populated by gangs of highwaymen, kidnappers and killers.

• President Barack Obama, facing hardened international opposition to a strike against Syria and returning home to a skeptical American public, will address the country Tuesday to make his case.

• House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told lawmakers Friday to expect a vote authorizing the use of force in Syria “in the next two weeks” to kick off a busy fall agenda.

Egypt army attacks Sinai militants: The Egyptian army has launched a major offensive against militants in Sinai. Eyewitnesses told the BBC that tanks, armoured vehicles and troops – backed by Apache helicopters – had attacked the militants in towns along the border with the Gaza Strip.

In other news

How Many Documents Did Edward Snowden Take?: Why does it matter that the number of documents Greenwald claims to possess varies from 9,000 to more than 58,000? For one, his capacity to tell the truth is an ongoing problem in this scandal, one that should be drawing more attention from fellow journalists who care about reporting the truth. When we combine all of this — the constantly upward-revised number of documents Snowden stole, combined with his clearly dishonest claim that he carefully read all of them — a troubling picture emerges. Edward Snowden could not have read all of these documents, nor could he possibly have the understanding to contextualize and explain them to anyone else. Moreover, the journalists who have helped him push this lie into the public have, themselves, lied about both the content of these documents (namely, the damage that would result from unredacted disclosure) and their extent.

Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Saturday conceded election defeat to conservative challenger Tony Abbott, with six years of Labor rule coming to an end as he wished his rival well. “A short time again I telephoned Tony Abbott to concede defeat at this national election,” he said at a party function in Brisbane. “As prime minister of Australia, I wish him well in the high office of prime minister of this country.” With 80 percent of the votes counted, the Australian Electoral Commission showed Abbott’s Liberal/National coalition was leading in 88 seats in the House of Representatives, to Labor’s 56.

A US judge was blocked on Friday from increasing the controversial one-month jail term he imposed on a teacher convicted of raping a 14-year-old student. Montana’s Supreme Court said judge G. Todd Baugh could not annul the 31-day sentence he imposed on teacher Stacey Rambold for raping schoolgirl Cherice Moralez, who later committed suicide. But the top tribunal did not rule on the sentence itself, which is expected to be appealed in a higher court, and changed to at least two years behind bars.

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