1) Syrian rebels have seized a major Assad air base in the north of the country. Their victory (assuming they are able to hold the base) represents another step towards Assad's ultimate defeat. In specific terms, the capture of the Taftanaz base offers a number of key strategic opportunities for the rebels. First, being proximate to Aleppo (about 15 miles), the facility provides a forward operating base from which the rebels can now launch operations against government forces in that city. In addition, Taftanaz is located next to the main Syrian M45 highway (have a look on google maps) or in military terms, MSR. As such, the base also offers the rebels the prospect to dominate the direct route south to Hamah, Homs and ultimately Damascus. Finally, the capture imposes another psychological blow on the Syrian regime. Apparently the Syrian Army abandoned its position during the battle for Taftanaz. This does not inspire confidence in the regime's ability to motivate its forces. (Though the regime's elite units are ideologically conjoined to Assad).
What can we expect now? For one, further government defections in the coming weeks. Also, increasing desperation by Assad and his allies in the Lebanese Hizballah and Iran (and Russia). On the Iran/Hizballah front, it's possible these two might attempt to create an incident that distracts international attention away from Assad. One note of caution however, the group that seized Taftanaz subscribes to a Sunni extremist ideology and is regarded by the US/EU as a terrorist group. One of the reasons why I support arming Syrian rebel nationalists, is so that these elements can counter-balance the extremists. Both now and after Assad is gone. We do not want a 2006 Iraq style sectarian bloodletting in post-Assad Syria.
2) The news that entertainment groups are meeting with VP Biden's gun control task force concerns me. The Federal Government has no place pressuring the movie/tv/gaming industry to self-regulate the content of their products. The entertainment industry caters to demand - if people don't like a movie or a computer game, then they won't purchase access to that product. Fortunately, we have the First Amendment. We must ensure that we don't follow the European route of limited free speech.