Escalating Middle East Violence: Iran’s Strike on Israeli Spy Base

Iran directly attacks: On Monday, Iran took credit for hitting and destroying an Israeli spy base with missiles. This is significant because it’s the first time since Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel that Iran has “publicly said it’s attacked an Israeli target,” though Iran has, of course, been working behind the scenes to back groups like Hezbollah, which has been exchanging fire with Israeli troops on the border between Israel and Lebanon, and the Houthis, which are now at the receiving end of U.S. and British strikes after the terrorist group targeted commercial ships in the Red Sea.
Iran’s actions were “in response to the Israeli assassination of a number of commanders of the IRGC and the resistance front”—meaning Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis—reports Tasnim, an Iranian news agency.
Things are heating up in the Middle East more broadly. Overnight, Iran launched an airstrike on what it claims is a Sunni militant cluster operating in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan reports that at least two children were killed and called Iran’s actions an “unprovoked violation of [Pakistan’s] airspace.”
And Yemeni Houthis struck an American ship, the Gibraltar Eagle, on Monday. “The Yemeni armed forces consider all American and British ships and warships participating in the aggression against our country as hostile targets,” said Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree. The United States is weighing whether to re-designate the Houthis as a terrorist group following dozens of strikes on commercial ships in the Red Sea (and retribution for those attacks doled out by the U.S. and allies).
Analyzing the Iowa caucuses: Former President Donald Trump “showed striking weakness in suburban and urban areas,” reports Politico. “So while the data show how Trump has managed to consolidate a majority of Republican support, it also reveals his relative vulnerability among suburban and highly educated voters—raising questions about how he will win over a voting bloc that has long viewed him with skepticism and helped fuel his 2020 loss.”
Still, Trump improved on his 2016 Iowa caucus showing in a major way. (If you recall, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses eight years ago, with 27.6 percent of the vote compared to Trump’s 24.3 percent.) “Several dozen precincts gave Trump less than 10 percent of their caucus vote eight years ago; this year, he won 35 percent of the vote in those areas,” reports Politico.
Government shutdown? Yesterday, the Senate moved forward a stopgap bill, which would temporarily stave off a government shutdown. (We’ve heard this one before, haven’t we?) “By a 68-to-13 vote, senators voted to take up the legislation, which would temporarily extend funding for some federal agencies until March 1 and for others through March 8,” reports The New York Times. “It would keep spending levels flat while lawmakers and aides hammer out the details of a $1.66 trillion deal reached between Speaker Mike Johnson, the Louisiana Republican, and Democrats.”
Some right-wing members of Congress have voiced opposition to the spending bill, particularly the fact that it does not stipulate securing the border, forcing Johnson to seek support from Democrats.
Scenes from New YorkIf you’re a New York state taxpayer, you may get the honor of paying the legal fees of your former governor, Andrew Cuomo—yes, that Andrew Cuomo, the one who locked Granny in a nursing home with other COVID-positive olds at the start of the pandemic, ensuring the disease would spread like wildfire.
There’s a New York law on the books that forces taxpayer funds to be used to reimburse public officials if they’re prosecuted for a crime but not convicted. “The Albany County sheriff’s office brought a misdemeanor charge of forcible touching against Cuomo in 2021, which was tossed after prosecutors concluded the complaint was defective,” reports Politico. Therefore, “Cuomo received a $565,000 check from the state comptroller’s office last week, thanks to the law.”
The former “love gov” was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, which led to him stepping down in August 2021. He was also embroiled in a scandal related to the possible use of government funds to subsidize his memoir writing. Now that he’s flush with cash again, he’s weighing a mayoral run.
QUICK HITS
  • Some San Francisco tenants are trying a rent strike.
  • Highly concerning:
  • The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) is challenging Utah’s social media age-verification law.
  • A new study calls bullshit on workplace wellness programs.
  • “The Japanese central bank is widely expected to put an end to the world’s last negative interest rate in the next few months,” reports Bloomberg. “And after decades of humdrum predictability, the world’s third-largest government bond market is buzzing, the benchmark stock index has hit a 34-year high, and brokerages across Tokyo are staffing up—often seeking out older traders who remember when Japan last had positive rates.”
  • Yes:
  • Reason‘s Christian Britschgi tallies up the price of city-built tent encampments for the homeless.
  • The merger between JetBlue and Spirit was put on hold by a federal judge, out of antitrust concerns, which “means JetBlue will continue to be relegated to second-tier status behind the industry’s big four carriers … which wield unmatched pricing power and command vastly bigger fleets,” reports Bloomberg. The irony!
  • Death to awards shows.
  • Yes: