William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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ACTION IN THE MIDEAST? – AT 8:39 A.M. ET:  This is incomplete, but important.  There are reports that Israel has struck a Syrian target on the Syria-Lebanon border.  Details are sketchy.  Here is the first Reuters dispatch:

(Reuters) - Israeli forces have attacked a target on the Syrian-Lebanese border overnight, a Western diplomat and three regional security sources said on Wednesday, at a time of growing concern in the Jewish state over the fate of Syrian chemical and conventional weapons.

The sources, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, had no further information about what might have been hit or where precisely the attack happened.

The Lebanese army reported a heavy presence of Israeli jets over its territory throughout the night.

"There was definitely a hit in the border area," one security source said. A Western diplomat in the region who asked about the strike said "something has happened", without elaborating.

An activist in Syria who works with a network of opposition groups around the country said that she had heard of a strike in southern Syria from her colleagues but could not confirm.

Israel's Vice Premier Silvan Shalom said on Sunday that any sign that Syria's grip on its chemical weapons was slipping, as President Bashar al-Assad fights rebels trying to overthrow him, could trigger Israeli intervention.

COMMENT:  Even Arab diplomats are beginning to say that Syria is falling apart.  Syria has a hold over Lebanon, as does Iran.  The situation is fluid, bloody, and messy.

Meanwhile, Washington says its fond farewell to Hillary Clinton, who the press corps devoutly wishes will be our next president.  John Kerry, who called his comrades in Vietnam war criminals, prepares to take over as secretary of state on Friday.  Chuck Hagel can't wait to get to the Defense Department to slash our defenses.

We'll follow this newest story from the Mideast.  We'll probably follow it more closely than the White House will.

January 30,  2013