After Iran Attack, US Fears Israeli Escalation - The Monday AM Quickie 4/15/24

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Israel Debates Response to Iranian Air Strikes

On Saturday, Iran launched a series of air strikes and drone attacks against Israel, with most of the several hundred munitions being intercepted by US, Israeli, British, and Jordanian forces. One person in Israel, a Bedouin child in the Negev desert, was seriously wounded. Some kind of Iranian attack been anticipated after Israel bombed Iran's embassy in Damascus, killing an Iranian general, on April 1. That attack was one of many violent events in a long-running shadow war between Israel and Iran that has stretched across the region but, until Saturday, had never included a direct Iranian attack on Israel.

In Israel, life has seemingly returned to normal while the country's war cabinet is divided over the type and scale of response. The Biden administration and leaders around the world have urged Israel to show restraint and avoid a larger escalation. According to a tally by The Intercept, the ongoing regional war – which has included Israeli air strikes in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq – now touches 16 countries. "We’re advising them to take a breath before responding," an anonymous US official told Politico. Any Israeli response "needs to be proportional and bring this cycle to an end."

It certainly is a cycle. It was repeated Israeli attacks against Iranian targets that brought this unprecedented – but ultimately ineffective – Iranian military operation. Biden administration officials seem content with letting Israel go another round, promising once again this weekend that US support for Israel is "ironclad."

For its part, Iran has made clear that it saw the show of force as a necessary response to Israel's air strike on its Syrian embassy but that it also did not want further escalation. The Iranian government spent the last week telegraphing its intentions and telling the US government not to interfere. On X, Iran said it would invoke Article 51 of the UN Charter, which recognizes a right to self defense. Iran's foreign minister also posted, "At this point, the Islamic Republic of Iran has no intention of continuing defensive operations."

With leading Israeli officials like National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir saying that Israel "has to go berserk" – and as Gaza burns – it's hard to see a way back to peace.

House Votes to Reauthorize FISA Surveillance

On Friday, the House of Representatives voted to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, otherwise known as FISA, which grants the US government broad surveillance powers against foreign communications. In practice, this warrantless surveillance picks up communications of Americans as well. This latest reauthorization came after a number of Republicans criticized the proposed vote on civil liberties grounds, while former President Donald Trump claimed on Truth Social that government authorities under FISA were used to spy on his campaign. In order to win over hardline Republicans, House Speaker Mike Johnson reduced the reauthorization period from five to two years and promised to introduced a bill limiting the government's ability to get data from tech companies without a warrant.

In the past, liberal Democrats – and not MAGA-style Republicans like Matt Gaetz – led the opposition to warrantless surveillance. That era seems over. At least there's still the ACLU.


  • OJ's Brain Won't Be Tested for CTE Deceased football player and likely double murderer OJ Simpson will be cremated without his brain being tested for the kind of damage that afflicted so many of his colleagues. His lawyer also said some generally rude and awful things about the debt Simpson still owed to the family of Ron Goldman. via NBC News.
  • RFK Jr. Won't Run As a Libertarian Robert F. Kennedy Jr. intends to forsake an opportunity to run on the Libertarian Party ticket and continue as an Independent. A Libertarian alliance would have guaranteed that RFK Jr. will be on every state's ballot. Now, his campaign will have to work to satisfy 50 different, often difficult sets of requirements. via Axios.
  • Jury Selection Begins in Trump Hush Money Trial Today marks the beginning of jury selection in Donald Trump's criminal case in New York. Despite a gag order, Trump has repeatedly attacked the judge, prosecutors, witnesses, and their families. On Saturday, he called the case "a communist show trial." via The Guardian.
  • Salman Rushdie Publishing Book On His Attempted Murder Tomorrow, author Salman Rushdie will publish a memoir of being stabbed by an assailant at a literary event in August 2022. Rushdie sustained severe injuries, including being blinded in one eye, and was hospitalized for almost two months. via NYT and BBC News.



That's the percentage by which burglaries declined last year in the US, part of a decades-long drop that has seen the crime become much less than common than it once was. According to some new studies, more people working from home may have contributed to a recent relative decline in home burglaries while nonresidential burglaries saw a small increase. Easier to rob an office when the workers are all at home, I guess.


4/15: Happy Monday! Sam and Emma speak with Dylan Penningroth, professor of Law and History at the University of California, Berkeley, to discuss his recent book Before The Movement: The Hidden History of Black Civil Rights.


McCarthy's War On Gaetz Is Great For Democrats

Kevin McCarthy is still sour about losing his speakership, and he blames Matt Gaetz.

Embarassing! RNC Boss Lara Trump Is Now Shilling MyPillow

It's hard to shake the idea that the Republican Party is a multi-level marketing scheme.


"If they had filmed it and broadcast it on YouTube, today there would be four million people in Israel trying to find a way to escape from here."

-- An anonymous Israeli government source speaking to journalist Ronen Bergman (via Google Translate) about Israeli government crisis meetings during the Iranian missile and drone attack on the country on Saturday. Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly spent the weekend in the fortified Jerusalem home of Simon Falic, an American business mogul and political donor.

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