Thursday December 13, 2012 Happening Now

Good Morning!

As we reported yesterday, Syria now using SCUD missiles against rebels. It's a dramatic escalation of the conflict as Assad's grip on power continues to weaken. For the first time, Russian officials are suggesting Assad may be losing. That's an erosion of a once-solid alliance. There's also been a series of bombings in and around Damascus. Most analysts believe if the Syrian government loses control of the capital.. it's over for Assad.

North Korea still celebrating the launch of a rocket late Tuesday. Meantime, the likely next step is another nuke test. It would be the third for the dictatorship. Back in 2009 a nuke test came just one month after a rocket test.

Tick tock, tick tock. Clock is quickly winding down to the new year with no signs of a deal on the so-called fiscal cliff. Both sides sticking to their core positions: Dems want tax increases on the wealthy. GOP wants entitlement cuts and no rate rises. House Minority Leader Pelosi and House Majority Leader Boehner speak at weekly news conferences today.. we'll probably dip into these.

1030EST -- House Minority Ldr Pelosi holds her weekly press conference. LIVE

1115EST -- House Speaker Boehner holds press conference. LIVE

Ben Bernanke spoke yesterday, and said interest rates would remain low as long as unemployment remains stubbornly high.

Speaking of unemployment, we get weekly jobless numbers today.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is visiting troops in Afghanistan. At 10am ET, he meets with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and then at 10:45ET holds a joint news conference. We might want to turn some sound. Debate is raging over the American role post-2014. At least 301 American soldiers have died this year so far in Afghanistan. The war has been raging since 2002.

The Senate foreign relations committee will hold hearings on the attack on our diplomats in Libya on December 20th. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify.

The Secretary also spoke with Barbara Walters for her "10 most fascinating people" special last night. Hillary insists she has no plans to run for President.

NJ Governor Chris Christie also spoke with Walters. He vigorously defended his actions in the wake of Hurricane Sandy dismissing critics who said he hurt Mitt Romney with public appearances with President Obama. Christie says he was just doing his job. He also dismissed arguments he's too heavy to run for President.

Clint Henderson is the Executive Producer for “Happening Now” and an avid traveler. Follow his adventures on Twitter, ClintPHenderson, and Instagram, clintpage1.