William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SYRIA – AT 11:04 A.M. ET:  The casualty figures from Syria are escalating faster than the media can count. 

(Reuters) - More than 60,000 people have died in the Syrian uprising and civil war, the United Nations said on Wednesday, dramatically raising the death toll in a struggle that shows no sign of ending.

Dozens were killed in a Damascus suburb when a government air strike turned a petrol station into an inferno, incinerating drivers who had rushed there for a rare chance to fill their tanks, activists said.

"I counted at least 30 bodies. They were either burnt or dismembered," said Abu Saeed, an activist who arrived at the area an hour after the raid occurred at 1:00 PM (1100 GMT) in Muleiha, a suburb on the eastern edge of the capital.

U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said in Geneva that researchers cross-referencing seven sources over five months of analysis had listed 59,648 people killed in Syria between March 15, 2011 and November 30, 2012.

"The number of casualties is much higher than we expected and is truly shocking," she said. "Given that there has been no let-up in the conflict since the end of November, we can assume that more than 60,000 people have been killed by the beginning of 2013."

There was no breakdown by ethnicity or information about whether the dead were rebels, soldiers or civilians. There was also no estimate of an upper limit of the possible toll.

COMMENT:  Please note the deep anguish of "human rights" organizations, and the UN itself.  Both spend most of their time wringing their hands over Israeli "settlements" in areas of the West Bank that knowledgeable observers say will probably go to Israel in a peace agreement anyway.

But with predictions of 100,000 deaths before much longer, something, as they say, has got to give.  The Middle East is aflame, Obama is leading from behind, and our influence has become almost irrelevant.  Our incoming secretary of state predicted that the butcher of Damascus, President Assad, would become a great reformer.

And these are the headaches we know about.  Oh, do you remember the Iranian nuclear-bomb program?  I think it's on the president's iPad somewhere. 

January 2,  2013