The first video was uploaded July 4 and is inching toward 40,000 views. There aren’t many details as to time and place, but the best guess is that it comes from the July 4 protests at Latakia. Protesters were murdered there in late June – that’s the context for the second video – and pro-democracy activists again flooded the streets on July 4 yelling anti-Assad chants. Please observe your graphic content warning:

Meanwhile, the administration – either cowed by Khamenei’s warning to stay out of Syria or more probably just too obstinate to backtrack from its myopic obsession with Syrian engagement – still has problems explicitly calling for Assad to step aside. Obama’s refusal to demand Assad’s exit during his speech was one thing, and it’s worth flagging Rick’s post about how that became State’s official line. But the Secretary of State’s constant declarations that Assad is running out of time to “reform” have become borderline self-caricature, even if we’re now into “lost his legitimacy” territory. Why not just say it?

At this point, Assad could sign a declaration mocking the State Department for pretending he’s a reformer – something he’s actually explicitly done before – and it still wouldn’t work. He could follow up by reading that declaration personally on Al Jazeera, playing it on loop 24/7 on Syrian State TV, and then printing the transcript on flags waved by soldiers as they murdered protesters. And even then the administration’s reaction would probably be limited to an expression of deep concern and a comment about how awesome it is Al Jazeera broadcasts real news instead of infotainment like our decadent Western cable outlets.