Congress takes aim at nation’s nuclear regulator

“Lawmakers who support a new generation of advanced nuclear power are setting their sights on what they see as the technology’s top obstacle: the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The Biden administration has touted small, factory-built reactors as a possible lifeline for an aging nuclear industry and a crucial step toward cutting the nation’s planet-warming emissions. But only one reactor design has gotten the greenlight from the NRC, and administration-backed advanced nuclear energy projects are struggling to get off the ground.

Key leaders in the House and Senate are now considering fundamental changes to the NRC, an independent federal agency tasked with protecting public safety and health.

The House Energy and Commerce and Senate Environment and Public Works committees are negotiating a compromise legislative package that would streamline regulations at the NRC and potentially adjust the agency’s mission statement, as I write today.

The talks come after four Senate Democrats recently kneecapped a renomination bid for one of the NRC’s longtime regulators, Jeff Baran, who was first appointed by former President Barack Obama.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) was among the Democrats who called Baran an overzealous regulator overtly hostile to nuclear energy. Today, Manchin said he won’t support any nominee who’s too focused on safety.

“We’re just looking for people who understand that we have to have nuclear energy in the mix,” Manchin said.

Lawmakers believe fundamentally changing the NRC, in leadership and policy, will give so-called small modular reactors a fighting chance to succeed.”

The West is about to hand victory to Hamas

“The obvious place for refugees to go temporarily is across the border into Egypt, where there are vast empty spaces and infrastructure for the United Nations and Egyptian authorities to provide shelter, aid and medical assistance. But the US draft resolution seems to exclude this possibility altogether.
Egypt is understandably fearful of Hamas terrorists and their supporters entering its territory; it already has enough of a threat from like-minded Muslim Brotherhood extremists and the plethora of terrorist gangs that share Hamas’s jihadist ideology.

But the terrain in northern Sinai should allow for measures to mitigate dangers such as these, especially given Egypt’s powerful security forces. Surely, if it were truly standing behind Israel, the US would have found a way to encourage Cairo to play a role here?

It is hard to escape the conclusion that, instead, Joe Biden is no longer committed to Israel finishing Hamas off, largely because of domestic political considerations. And the danger is that what he really wants is not a “temporary” cessation to the fighting, but to impose a “peace” deal that would leave Hamas’s terrorist organisation partially intact and end up solving nothing.

What President Biden and his ilk seem incapable of recognising is that the Israeli people can accept no “solution” to the current conflict that leaves the country in a weaker position to the one that it occupied on October 6.

Indeed, the wider West appears to be forgetting how this war started. Israel did not want the conflict. It was the necessary response to the shocking crimes of October 7, the slaughter of civilians, and the taking of hostages – evil terrorist acts that Israel rightly wants to ensure can never happen again.

If the IDF does not move forward with its plans, Israel knows that it will only be a matter of time before we see another conflict in Gaza, as well as emboldened terrorists in the West Bank and on its northern border. Worse, the terrorists would know that the United States would never allow Israel to truly defeat them.”

Chiefs Super Bowl rally shooting started because someone was “looking at” someone else

“The shooting that claimed a life and injured more than 20 others last Wednesday in Kansas City started for the most ridiculous reason possible.
Someone was looking at someone else.

Via, court documents show that the shooting stemmed from an argument sparked by the stupidest form of testosterone-driving peacocking.

“Four males approached Lyndell Mays and one of the males asked Lyndell Mays what he was looking at, because they didn’t know him,” the paperwork contends.

“They began arguing about why they were staring at each other.”

Are we that insecure as a species that we can’t tolerate the fact that someone else looked at us? It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic.

Insecure men, too thin-skinned to tolerate someone else’s gaze and too stupid to not start waving around guns and too impulsive to not pull the trigger resulted in the death of a woman who had nothing to do with their stupid-ass macho head games. Others were physically injured, tens of thousands were emotionally impacted, and millions of others must now take a serious look at whether they should avoid attending games or parades or other sports-related gatherings.

How can anyone even begin to combat this? It’s a combination of excess hormones and insufficient intelligence. Along with, of course, access to weapons that can be brandished and activated by someone who otherwise can’t be trusted to tie his shoes properly.”

Iran has enough uranium to make 12 nuclear bombs in five months, warns former UN weapons inspector

“Iranian scientists can produce enough weapons-grade uranium to make 12 nuclear bombs within five months, it has been claimed.
The revelation follows the disclosure by the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) that the Iranian regime has increased the production rate of highly enriched uranium up to 60 per cent purity.

Modern nuclear weapons require uranium to be enriched up to 90 per cent but inspectors within the IAEA believed this could be achieved by Iran very quickly.”

Russia apparently got control of the skies before seizing victory in a front-line fight, and it could be ‘devastating’ for Ukraine if it continues, war experts say

“As Russia’s ground forces pushed to capture Avdiivka, its air force appeared to establish air superiority over the war-torn town, clearing the way for critical close-air-support missions, conflict analysts assessed.
Although only temporary and localized, it appears to be the first time Russia has taken control of the skies in a front-line area since their full-scale invasion began almost two years ago. And if it continues or expands, a real possibility as Ukrainian air defenses are under significant stress, it could be “devastating,” war experts said.

On Saturday, Russia claimed victory in Avdiivka, a Ukrainian town northeast of occupied Donetsk. Despite it being hailed as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s biggest victory since the fall of Bakhmut in May 2023 — and a timely one given the upcoming Russian presidential elections next month — it came at a high cost. Moscow has suffered severe losses of both troops and equipment since focusing its forces on Avdiivka last fall.

Confirming its retreat from the area, Ukraine said it was saving troops from being fully surrounded by Russian troops. Over the past few months, geolocated footage of the area had shown Russia slowly and painstakingly advancing to encircle Ukrainian defenders fighting to hold the town.

Upon Russia’s capture of the town, reports said its air forces had been operating in the skies above Avdiivka, supporting ground troops in the last days of the offensive operations and eventually allowing them to overwhelm Ukrainian defenses.

According to The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington DC-based think tank, this was likely the first time Russian forces had been able to do so in Ukraine. Air defenses, particularly ground-based surface-to-air missile systems, have prevented either side from achieving this key element of offensive operations, even locally.

Over the final days of fighting, the Ukrainians reported an increase in the number of Russian glide bombs dropped by fixed-wing aircraft, George Barros, the geospatial-intelligence team lead and a Russia analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, told Business Insider. This activity appears to indicate the employment of a combined arms tactic involving having air forces support maneuver elements on the ground.”

“Ukraine’s air defenses have largely denied Russia air superiority, preventing its jets and aircraft from conducting significant air campaigns since the beginning of the war.

It is unclear if Ukraine can continue to do that, especially considering delays in further Western security aid. Ukraine has said its air defenses and missile stockpiles are running critically low, forcing them to ration and make tough choices on which front-line areas should be prioritized and protected.”

Trump legal news brief: Supreme Court keeps Michigan sanctions in place for pro-Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood

The high court did not offer any comment on its decision, which means Powell, Wood and the other defendants must pay a total of $132,693.75 to the city of Detroit and another $19,639.75 in legal fees to the state of Michigan.

In their unsuccessful effort to overturn the 2020 election results in Michigan, Powell, Wood and their co-defendants made wild claims in a lawsuit brought in the state alleging that Dominion voting machines were involved in fraud.

A district court judge ruled that the lawyers’ court challenges represented a “historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.”

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals later upheld the bulk of the district court judge’s ruling, calling the fraud claims “simply baseless.”

In their appeal to the Supreme Court, the defendants continued to argue that they were simply pursuing “legitimate election challenges.”

Powell has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from her efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia and has agreed to testify against Trump and 14 others still charged there.

Dominion is suing Powell for $1.3 billion over her false claims that the company rigged the election against Trump.

Wood has been subpoenaed to testify in the Georgia case.”

How Israel’s war went wrong

“At least 28,000 Palestinians are already confirmed dead, with more likely lying in the rubble. Around 70 percent of Gaza’s homes have been damaged or destroyed; at least 85 percent of Gaza’s population has been displaced. The indirect death toll from starvation and disease will likely be higher. One academic estimate suggested that nearly 500,000 Palestinians will die within a year unless the war is brought to a halt, reflecting both the physical damage to Gaza’s infrastructure and the consequences of Israel’s decision to besiege Gaza on day three of the war. (While the siege has been relaxed somewhat, limitations on aid flow remain strict.)

“There’s no doubt that the IDF has done significant damage to Hamas’s infrastructure. Israel has killed or captured somewhere around one-third of Hamas’s fighting force, destroyed at least half of its rocket stockpile, and demolished somewhere between 20 and 40 percent of its tunnel network under Gaza. The more the war goes on, the higher those numbers will become.
But as significant as these achievements are, “none of them come close to eliminating Hamas””

“When I surveyed over a dozen experts about the war back in October, they warned that Israel had a dangerously loose understanding of what the war was about. The stated aim of “destroying Hamas” was at once maximalist and open-ended: It wasn’t clear how it could be accomplished or what limit there might be on the means used in its pursuit.

Israel’s conduct in the war so far has vindicated these fears. The embrace of an objective at once so massive and vague has dragged Israel down the moral nadir documented in Abraham’s reporting, with unclear and perhaps even self-defeating ends. It is a situation that Matt Duss, the executive vice president at the Center for International Policy, terms “an era-defining catastrophe.”

Things did not have to be this way. After the horrific events of October 7, Israel had an obviously just claim to wage a defensive war against Hamas — and the tactical and strategic capabilities to execute a smarter, more limited, and more humane war plan.

The blame for this failure lies with Israel’s terrible wartime leadership: an extremist government headed by Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, a venal prime minister currently on trial for corruption who has placed his personal interests over his country’s even during wartime.”

“For Walzer, Israel cannot wage war justly when Gazan civilians truly cannot escape.”

“In previous wars with Hamas, Israel’s primary objective had been degrading Hamas’s military capabilities and deterring it from attacking Israel in the near future. These are relatively limited aims that can be accomplished through more discriminate military means. Israel didn’t need to destroy every Hamas rocket launcher or kill every commander — but rather do just enough damage to buy itself some safety.”

“A significant level of civilian death is inevitable in urban warfare, and especially in Gaza given Hamas’s despicable tactic of stationing military assets in and around schools and hospitals. The IDF is facing a profoundly challenging operating environment with few true historical parallels.

Yet this does not absolve Israel of its decision to adopt a maximalist war aim or the unusually brutal tactics that followed from it. These were choices Israeli leaders made”

“In the outlines offered by Israeli leadership early in the war, “destroying Hamas” could only be accomplished by replacing its regime in Gaza with something new and durable. In October, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said this explicitly — that the war must end with the “creation of a new security regime in the Gaza Strip [and] the removal of Israel’s responsibility for day-to-day life in the Gaza Strip.”

Regime change is the only conceivable way Israel could deliver on its long-shot objective of destroying Hamas. Yet, shockingly, Israel has no clear plan for what comes next. Every source I spoke to with knowledge of Israeli planning confirmed this; so does a volume of publicly available reporting and some recent comments from Netanyahu spokesperson Avi Hyman.

“All discussions about the day after Hamas will be had the day after Hamas,” Hyman said during a press briefing.”

“In the long run, making Israel look like the depraved side serves two strategic goals for Hamas. First, it puts the Palestinian issue back at the top of the Arab and international political agenda. Second, it convinces Palestinians that Israel must be fought with arms — and that Hamas, rather than the more peace-oriented Fatah, should be leading their struggle. Polling data both in Palestine and elsewhere suggest that they have made inroads on both fronts since October 7.

By inflicting mass suffering on Palestinians without a long-term plan for addressing the political consequences of their misery, Israel is playing right into Hamas’s hands. The current Israeli approach is less likely to destroy the militant group than to strengthen it.”