The Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad is so paranoid about assassins coming for him that all of his meals are thoroughly vetted before he eats them, and he rarely ventures into the great outdoors anymore. 

At least those are two of the biggest takeaways from this report by the Washington Post's Joby Warrick and Colum Lynch. Now that the fight with the rebels shows no sign of ending, and that Russia has basically abandoned him, Assad has become a recluse who barely talks to anyone or does anything. (The picture above, featuring Assad visiting with Austria's president in 2009, would never happen today.)

Unfortunately, basically everyone is at a loss in terms of finding a solution to the conflict. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said he wants the "Arab, regional and international support and consensus," for a political solution, but it's unclear how to make that happen. That's the idea U.N. Syrian envoy Lakhdar Brahimi likes the most, but doesn't know how he could ever make happen. Russia wants him to talk to the rebels, and Brahimi wants a cease-fire but doesn't even see that as a real possibility. Maybe the talks would have a greater chance of success if there wasn't a poisonous gas gap standing in the way of negotiations. It's a really encouraging situation over there in Syria, let met tell you.