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.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/west-hand-victory-hamas-200535008.html

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 NBCNews.com, 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.”

https://www.yahoo.com/sports/chiefs-super-bowl-rally-shooting-010841959.html

The Killing of 3 American Troops Was an Avoidable Tragedy

“U.S. Special Forces had first set up shop in al-Tanf during the war against the Islamic State. Their plan was to support the Revolutionary Commando Army, a friendly Syrian rebel group. That project failed embarrassingly. The Revolutionary Commando Army suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Islamic State in 2016, and one of its leaders ran off with American-made guns after he was accused of drug trafficking in 2020. Kurdish-led forces elsewhere in Syria became a much more reliable partner for the U.S. military.
Meanwhile, Russia—which is allied with the Iranian and Syrian governments—agreed to enforce a 55 kilometer “deconfliction zone” around al-Tanf. The zone also included Rukban, an unofficial refugee camp built by Syrians fleeing government persecution. (The Syrian government reportedly tortured two former Rukban residents to death in October 2022.) No country wanted to take responsibility for the camp, and it took almost a decade for the U.S. military to begin providing food aid to Rukban.

Washington, however, had a different purpose for al-Tanf in mind: countering Iran and its allies. The base’s location near the Iraqi-Syrian border made it valuable real estate, especially for anyone intent on breaking up the “land bridge” between Iranian allies. It also allowed the U.S. military and Israeli intelligence to listen in on Iranian communications, according to Al-Monitor, a Washington-based magazine focused on the Middle East. So the Americans stayed.

“Control of [al-Tanf] neutralized a key border crossing point on the road between Baghdad and Damascus, which forced Iran and others to cross from Iraq into Syria at a more distant border crossing to the north,” former Trump administration official John Bolton declared in his 2020 memoir, The Room Where It Happened. “Besides, why give away territory for nothing?”

More provocatively, Israeli forces began using al-Tanf’s airspace to bomb Iranian and pro-Iranian forces in Syria. (Since American aircraft often fly the same route, Syrian “air defenses can’t tell the difference until it’s too late,” a U.S. official told Al-Monitor.) The Israeli air campaign, known as “the war between the wars,” was designed to prevent Iran from moving weapons into the region in anticipation of a future war. Israel dropped more than 2,000 bombs on Syria in 2018, through “near-daily” air raids, with the direct involvement of U.S. leaders.

“The Israeli strike plans were submitted through the U.S. military chain and reviewed at CENTCOM [U.S. Central Command], usually days in advance of the strike; the strike plans outlined the purpose of the mission, the number of warplanes that would carry out the attack, and when it would occur,” wrote Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Gordon in his 2022 book, Degrade and Destroy: The Inside Story of the War Against the Islamic State. “They also spelled out the routes the Israeli planes would take and the coordinates of the target that would be struck. CENTCOM would examine the request, which would also be shared with the U.S. defense secretary, who would have the final say.”

It seemed like a win-win arrangement. Israel had a safe route for its bombing runs, and the United States could weaken a foreign rival without getting directly involved. But there was a problem: Iran was not stupid, and it could see that the American troops were facilitating the raids on its own troops. In retaliation for a series of Israeli attacks in October 2021, the Iranian military bombed al-Tanf the following month. No Americans were harmed at the time, but it was an ominous sign of the dangers involved.”

“Other officials and experts continued to worry that al-Tanf could become a liability. Former U.S. Air Force colonel Daniel L. Magruder Jr. called al-Tanf “strategic baggage” in an article published by the Brookings Institute a few weeks after Biden was elected. He recommended withdrawing U.S. forces in exchange for a deal to allow the refugee safe passage. The colonel warned that Russia and Iran had “acted provocatively” against al-Tanf in the past. “Would the U.S. be able to control escalation if an American were killed?” he wondered.

Three years later, Magruder’s question is sadly relevant. It remains to be seen how Biden will react to the killing of the three American troops, and whether that reaction deters further violence or escalates the situation even more. But Washington can’t say it wasn’t warned.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/29/the-killing-of-3-american-troops-was-an-avoidable-tragedy/

Pol Pot’s Atrocities Still Matter, 45 Years After Khmer Rouge’s Fall

“Forty-five years ago last Sunday, Vietnamese troops seized Phnom Penh and ended Cambodia’s 45-month reign of terror known as the “killing fields.” Under the leadership of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge government implemented policies—forced labor, resettlements, torture, starvation—that led to the death of 1.7-to-3 million people, or at least 20 percent of the nation’s population. The regime destroyed the country, caused untold suffering, and left permanent scars.”

“The Cambodian revolution wasn’t spontaneous. Its leaders honed their philosophy while studying in Paris. And one usually finds intellectuals behind crazy notions. As the saying goes, “Ideas have consequences”—and they’re often tragic.
Cambodia’s leaders sought to create an idyllic and classless agrarian society, one that harkened to the Angkor Empire from the 800s. “They wanted all members of society to be rural agricultural workers rather than educated city dwellers, who the Khmer Rouge believed had been corrupted by western capitalist ideas,” according to the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. Their philosophy echoed Mao Zedong, whose efforts to remake China led to unimaginable horrors.”

“In 1999, the “Black Book of Communism” tried to detail the number of civilian deaths caused by the world’s communist regimes—not deaths caused amid wars and civil strife, but direct massacres from the kind of policies so efficiently carried out in Cambodia. The authors came up with a figure of 100 million. These deaths don’t tell the entire story of fear, slavery, and repression. It’s simply unfathomable that any modern American could have a view of communist regimes that were any more favorable than the views most of us hold of Nazism.

Then again, ideological narratives grab hold of people in ways that are hard to understand. So many young leftists are nurtured in a university hothouse that divvies up humanity into fixed groups of “oppressor” and “oppressed.” They learned to have an endless faith in the government’s ability to reorder humanity. They probably haven’t been taught about what happens when officials are given unlimited powers to launch a “Great Leap Forward,” create “Year Zero” or design a “New Soviet Man.”

That’s too bad because the reason we live such free and prosperous lives is because we live within a system that limits the government’s power to take our property, throw us in prison, depopulate cities, execute us, force us onto long marches and put us in re-education camps. History proves that many people—including those who claim to have the best intentions—would do horrific things if they had such powers at their disposal. We can even point to horrors in the history of our own country, of course.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/12/pol-pots-atrocities-still-matter-45-years-after-khmer-rouges-fall/

Guns, Germs, and Drugs Are Largely Responsible for the Decline in U.S. Life Expectancy

“So why did U.S. life expectancy trends slow and then peak in 2014? And what, if anything, can policy makers and politicians realistically do to make increasing it a priority? As noted above, the big recent dip largely resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2023 Scientific Reports article “estimated that US life expectancy at birth dropped by 3.08 years due to the million COVID-19 deaths” between February 2020 and May 2022. But let’s set aside that steep post-2020 downtick in life expectancy resulting from nearly 1.2 million Americans dying of COVID-19 infections.

A 2020 study in Health Affairs chiefly attributed the 3.3-year increase in U.S. life expectancy between 1990 and 2015 to public health, better pharmaceuticals, and improvements in medical care. By public health, the authors meant such things as campaigns to reduce smoking, increase cancer screenings and seat belt usage, improve auto and traffic safety, and increase awareness of the danger of stomach sleep for infants. With respect to pharmaceuticals, they cited the significant reduction in cardiovascular diseases that resulted from the introduction of effective drugs to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

So a big part of what propelled increases in U.S. life expectancy is the fact that the percentage of Americans who smoke has fallen from 43 percent in the 1970s to 16 percent now. Smoking is associated with higher risks of cardiovascular diseases and cancers, rates of which have been dropping for decades. In addition, the rising percentage of Americans who are college graduates correlated with increasing life expectancy.

However, since the 2004 peak, countervailing increases in the death rates from drug overdoses, firearms, traffic accidents, and diseases associated with obesity contributed to the flattening of U.S. life expectancy trends.

A 2021 comprehensive analysis of the recent stagnation and decline in U.S. life expectancy in the Annual Review of Public Health (ARPH) largely concurs, finding that “the proximate causes of the decline are increases in opioid overdose deaths, suicide, homicide, and Alzheimer’s disease.” Interestingly, the U.S. trend in Alzheimer’s disease prevalence has been downward since 2011. In addition, the ARPH review noted that “a slowdown in the long-term decline in mortality from cardiovascular diseases has also prevented life expectancy from improving further.” So enabling and persuading more properly diagnosed Americans to take blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications would likely boost overall life expectancy.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/08/guns-germs-and-drugs-are-largely-responsible-for-the-decline-in-u-s-life-expectancy/

The US must strike Iran, and take out its terrorist commanders

“After more than 170 attempts since October, the proxies of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have succeeded in killing three US soldiers and injuring 25 in on the Jordan-Syria border. The US must respond now, and it must hold the IRGC directly accountable. Washington should conduct targeted strikes against senior IRGC commanders – a course of action that would send a clear message to the regime in Iran and make it think twice about escalating further.
For decades, the mainstream view among so-called policy “experts” in the Washington and Westminster bubble has been that targeted strikes against the IRGC increases the chance of all-out war with Tehran. This popular narrative that such action will lead to “World War 3” has shaped the Biden administration’s reluctance to respond to Tehran’s consistent acts of aggression since October 7, including sponsored attacks on US forces. But is the fear of what the IRGC would do in such a scenario worse than the reality? Past experiences seem to suggest so.

Since at least 2008 different US and Israeli administrations have conducted high value targeted strikes against the IRGC and its key proxies. The list of those struck reads like a terrorist all-star roster: Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s terror chief, killed in 2008; Hassan Shateri, the Quds Force general suspected of being behind Hezbollah’s underground missile infrastructure, killed in 2013; Qasem Soleimani, the second-most powerful man in Iran, killed in 2020; Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the IRGC’s nuclear weapons scientist, killed in the same year; and, more recently, Sadegh Omidzadeh, head of the Quds Force intelligence unit in Syria, killed last week.

In each case, Khamenei’s regime has vowed “harsh revenge”; in practice, each strike has degraded his regime’s ability to inflict violence on America and its allies. Perhaps the best example was the regime’s so-called “Operation Martyr Soleimani”. After the assassination of the IRGC commander – itself a response to a string of Iranian backed attacks on Western interests – Tehran launched a series of ballistic missiles at al-Asad Airbase and Erbil International Airport in Iraq. But as it pulled the trigger, it simultaneously announced that it had given advance warning to the Iraqi government, which in turn had passed this warning to American forces.

This is how Tehran responded to the killing of its most senior and valuable commander. Not the outbreak of World War 3, but a carefully choreographed display. And it was no exception to the general rule: whenever America and its allies have conducted high value targeted strikes against the Iranian regime, they have deterred further action rather than encouraged it.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/us-must-strike-iran-terrorist-142731799.html

Biden’s Options Range From Unsatisfying to Risky After American Deaths

“A spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Nasser Kanaani, said at a news conference in Tehran, Iran, on Monday that the militias “do not take orders” from Iran and act independently. It is a convenient argument, one that preserves some sense of deniability for Iran.
But the speed at which Iran tried to distance itself from the strike, rather than embrace it, underscored that the downside of using proxies is the same as the upside: Iran will be blamed for everything the militias do, even acts the Iranians believe are too provocative.

“This is the inherent risk in Iran’s proxy-war strategy,” said Ray Takeyh, an Iran expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It has been brilliantly successful, but only if the retaliation focuses on proxies and not on Iran’s own territory. Now there is a real risk of things getting even more out of hand in the region.”

Biden is running out of middle-ground options. Sanctions have been exhausted; there is barely a sector of the Iranian economy that the United States and Europe are not already punishing, and China continues to buy up Iranian oil. He could approve “strike packages” against a variety of proxies, but that would embolden some of them, and give some of them the status they crave as legitimate U.S. enemies.

And, following Stavridis’ suggestion, it could look to cyberattacks, more stealthy, deniable ways to make a point. But the lesson of the past decade of cyberconflict with Iran — in both directions — is that it looks easier in the movies than in reality. Gaining access to critical networks is hard, and having lasting impact is even harder. The most famous American-Israeli cyberattack on Iran, aimed at its nuclear centrifuges 15 years ago, slowed the nuclear program for a year or two but did not put it out of business.

And that is Biden’s challenge now: In the middle of an election, with two wars underway, he needs to put Iran’s sponsorship of attacks on Americans out of business — without starting another war.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/biden-options-range-unsatisfying-risky-182446875.html

Biden says US ‘shall respond’ after drone strike by Iran-backed group kills 3 US troops in Jordan

“President Joe Biden said Sunday that the U.S. “shall respond” after three American troops were killed and dozens more were injured in an overnight drone strike in northeast Jordan near the Syrian border. Biden blamed Iran-backed militias for the first U.S. fatalities after months of strikes by such groups against American forces across the Middle East since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.
Biden, who was traveling in South Carolina, asked for a moment of silence during an appearance at a Baptist church’s banquet hall.

“We had a tough day last night in the Middle East. We lost three brave souls in an attack on one of our bases,” he said. After the moment of silence, Biden added, “and we shall respond.”

With an increasing risk of military escalation in the region, U.S. officials were working to conclusively identify the precise group responsible for the attack, but they have assessed that one of several Iranian-backed groups was behind it.

Biden said in a written statement that the United States “will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner (of) our choosing.” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said “we will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our troops, and our interests.””

https://www.yahoo.com/news/biden-three-americans-killed-many-164752549.html

Alcohol overuse causes 140,000 American deaths annually. Why is it so undertreated?

“There is something that kills more Americans every year than drug overdoses, than guns, than car accidents. It’s legal, doesn’t require a background check to buy, is widely advertised, and if you’re 21, you can probably buy it at your corner store. It’s called alcohol.
While cold beers, glasses of wine, and hard liquor cocktails are often treated as end-of-the-workday or weekend indulgences, alcohol is technically a psychoactive, addictive drug, one linked to over 50 fatal conditions, including heart disease; breast, pancreatic, and stomach cancers; liver disease; hypertension; and stroke. It contributes to the death of 140,000 people in the US annually, making it one of the leading causes of preventable death in the country.

More and more research supports the conclusion that even light drinking — that is, less than 15 drinks a week for men or eight drinks a week for women — can contribute to an increased risk for heart disease and cancers. More recent medical recommendations in countries like Canada have increasingly tightened, moving toward the idea that there is no truly safe level of alcohol consumption.

But the dose is the poison, and those who are at the greatest risk are those who consistently binge drink. This group suffers from alcohol use disorder, a condition where someone consumes excessive amounts of alcohol to the point that it impairs their ability to stop or control their use despite negative social, occupational, or health consequences. And that group is larger than you might think: more than one in 12 people in the US have AUD [alcohol use disorder], and it’s likely that figure underestimates the real breadth of the problem.”

” For those with a concurrent diagnosis of AUD and another mental health diagnosis, some form of therapy is often needed to treat both conditions. Mild AUD can be treated with a short mental health screening and intervention in a primary care doctor’s office. Meanwhile, for those with more severe cases of AUD, further treatment — cognitive behavior or motivational enhancement therapy — could help.”

https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2023/11/6/23931877/alcohol-use-disorder-leading-cause-deaths-medication-therapy