I weep: Syrian rebels attack Hizbullah camps


**Posted by Phineas

Okay, maybe not so much weeping as wishing for popcorn.

Syrian rebels have reportedly bombed two compounds operated by the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah, the main Syrian opposition group announced Thursday.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) claims its forces bombed Hezbollah facilities in Lebanon and Syria, a cross-border raid that indicates the rebels’ desire to increase their attacks on allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“The development may mark a critical turn in Syria’s two-year war, bearing out fears that the increasingly sectarian conflict would spill over across Syria’s borders,” according to the Israel Project (TIP), which first reported on the operation.

Love it! Hot jihadi on jihadi action.

In case you’re wondering why the FSA should attack Hizbullah, who are based in Lebanon, keep in mind that the rebellion against Boy Assad (1) and his murderous clan largely comprises groups belonging to the Sunni side of Islam, while the Assads and their key supporters in Syria are mostly Alawite Muslim, an offshoot of Shia Islam (bad enough in Sunni eyes) that is regarded as borderline heretical by orthodox Muslims. In the decades since the Assads seized power, the Alawis have held the real reins of power in Syria and have not been shy about using overwhelming force to keep them, adding to the religious dislike.

Hizbullah is also a Shiite organization, a creation of Shiite Iran, which is the Assad regime’s major patron. (An important Iranian general was reported killed recently in Syria, probably by rebels.) Syria is crucial to Iran’s struggle against Israel and to be a dominant player in the western Fertile Crescent, allowing Iran to funnel weapons and money to Hizbullah, its frequent proxy against Israel. (If Israel ever attacks Iran, expect Hizbullah to try to rain hell on northern Israel.) Iran needs a friendly regime in Damascus, or its influence in the area will be severely curtailed. Hence it has sent troops, including snipers, to Syria to support the Assads.

Hizbullah itself realizes the fall of the Assads would weaken its position, perhaps fatally. It is the dominant player in the Lebanese government and functions as a state within the hollow husk of the Lebanese state. It has been heavily armed by Iran via Syria for its jihad against Israel, and Syria has provided a convenient fall-back zone on the occasions the Israelis have struck back.

But all this is in danger if Assad loses: the safe haven will be gone in a fragmented or dominated-by-Sunnis Syria; there will be no easy route for Iranian weapons to reach them, and they will have enemies to their south (Israel) and east, not just the south. The prospect is scary enough that Hizbullah is willing to do damage to its reputation for fighting for the average Muslim by sending forces to aid Assad against the rebels.

Thus you can see why the Sunni rebels in Syria would have no love for Hizbullah: they are Shiites; allies of the hated regime; tools of the Iranians who prop up Assad and kill Syrians… A conflict was almost inevitable.

But this doesn’t mean the “enemy of our enemy” is also our friend. The FSA is tightly allied with (and perhaps dominated by) the al-Nusrah front, an al-Qaeda aligned organization, many of whose members got their experience fighting us in Iraq. In other words, they are not our BFFs. Whatever “liberal” possibly pro-Western elements there may be in the anti-Assad alliance are, in my estimation, small and weak.

So, what should America do? This may get my “neocon card” revoked, but I don’t think there is much that can be done, particularly after the dithering of the Obama administration over the last couple of years. It’s in our interest to see Iran’s influence in the area damaged and Hizbullah weakened, if only because that would improve the security of our client and ally, Israel. So, the fall of the Assads would be a good thing.

But, not wholly so, if replaced by a Sunni jihadist regime that sees its duty as fighting the Jews, too. And no one sane wants any group affiliated with al Qaeda to have any safe haven. Granted the situation is hell for those trapped in Syria, perhaps the best from an American and Israeli point of view is a continuing war that drains all sides, while trying to cultivate whatever real moderates there are to be ready to exercise influence when the dust settles, and in the meantime doing what we can to make sure the fighting doesn’t spill over into Israel.

Beyond that… Enjoy watching one group of bad guys go after another, and pass the popcorn. smiley popcorn

(1) Let us not forget that, just a few years ago, powerful Democrats, including our current Secretary of State, and their media allies were all Assad’s useful idiots, praising him as a reformer. That’s the Hundred Acre Wood style of diplomacy, for you.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Chicago Tribune praises “decline in teen pregnancy”, ignores alarming STD statistics


The Wednesday editorial at the Chicago Tribune was one of fluff -n- stuff on the issue of teen sex and pregnancy, and included subtle jabs at social conservatives who have warned of a cultural decline as a result of the emphasis in this country on the sexy and superficial (bolded emphasis added by me):

American teenagers are awash in temptation, particularly the kind that involves pleasures of the flesh. They are exposed to racier images on television than ever before. Popular music celebrates carnal passion with unceasing gusto. And the Internet offers an endless array of graphic sexual fare. From watching “Glee” or “Gossip Girl,” you get the idea that high school is just one hookup after another.

This salacious environment is a lot for impressionable youngsters to deal with, but our kids are dealing with it surprisingly well.

So says the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports that when it comes to having babies, adolescents are not only doing better than they used to be, they’re doing better than they’ve ever done since 1946. The birth rate among teenagers fell by 8 percent from 2010 to 2011.


What accounts for the dramatic progress? A combination of less sex and more contraception has played a big part. Since 1991, the proportion of high school students who have ever had sexual intercourse has declined from 82 percent to 60 percent — a drop of more than a quarter. Adolescents are also less likely to have had several partners.

The ones having sex have gotten more careful about the consequences. Among those who have sex, the use of condoms has risen by one-third. Lately, other types of birth control also appear to have gained in popularity as well. Some 14 percent of sexually experienced teen girls have used emergency (plan B) contraceptives. But abortion has gotten less common.

The picture we get is not the raunchy abandon so often depicted in popular culture. It’s one of growing awareness of the downside of sex, more willingness to postpone it, and taking measures to prevent it from causing pregnancy.

Those steps are what parents, teachers and public health professionals have been urging on adolescents for decades now. Surprise: They’ve been listening.

I’m afraid they haven’t been listening, unfortunately, and apparently the Chicago Tribune hasn’t been reading. For all their high praise of the teen pregnancy rate lowering over the last couple of decades – which they attribute to more young people using protection or abstaining from sex, they ignored (deliberately?) key statistics from that same CDC report that render the editorial board’s assertions on the use of “more contraception” a bunch of wishful-thinking bull. From NBC’s Vitals blog:

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued two new studies of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) today detailing what the lead author of one calls “an ongoing, severe, STI epidemic.”

The studies reveal new infection data, some of it available for the first time, for the eight most common STIs — chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B, HIV, and trichomoniasis. The studies, which estimate infection rates and medical costs related to STIs, were published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

Both are startling. In 2008, there were 20 million new incidents of infection in the United States, and a prevalence (new infections plus ongoing infection) of 110 million, according to CDC estimates. (Because one person may have more than one infection, the 110 million figure does not mean 110 million people have a sexually transmitted disease.) As a result, the United States incurred estimated direct medical costs of nearly $16 billion.

Previous such estimates, for years 1996 and 2000, estimated approximately 15 million and 18.9 million new incidents respectively, though these reports used somewhat different data sources and methodology so the CDC cautions against making direct comparisons. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, the American Social Health Association, and the CDC, the U.S. has the highest rate of STIs in the industrialized world.

“STIs take a big health and economic toll on men and women in the United States, especially our youth,” CDC epidemiologist Catherine Lindsey Satterwhite, who led the study of incidence and prevalence, told NBC News.

Although people age 15-24 account for only 25 percent of the nation’s sexually experienced population, Satterwhite’s study estimates they account for about half of all sexually transmitted infections.

Let’s go over that again: Yes, while the teen pregnancy rate continues to drop, young people age 15-24 account for 50% of all new STIs, even though they are only 25% of the nation’s “sexually experienced  population.”  Not only that, but also per the CDC comes the news that the use of the “morning after pill” as a method for birth control – primarily due to women choosing to have irresponsible, unprotected sex – has tripled in a little over ten years, most of it due to use by teens and young women in their early 20s.  This is deeply troubling, and calls into question the Chicago Tribune’s implicit suggestion that teens were/are being more responsible with their bodies in spite of all of pop culture’s intense pressures to be otherwise.

While it’s great the teen pregnancy rate continues to decline, the STI “epidemic” shouldn’t and must NOT be ignored.  Nor should the tripling of the use of the “morning after pill” by women who, in most cases, decided not to have SAFE SEX in spite of all miles of literature and other types of information out there that warns of the consequences. So why did the Chi-Trib do just that?  I guess the opportunity to jab social conservatives was just too much for the liberal news outlet to resist. Not only that, but Democrats love to pat themselves on the back when things they advocate seemingly produce a full spectrum of positive results.   So they emphasize the positives, while ignoring any negatives that may call into question their advocacy of and judgment on said issues.

Here’s the fantasy: The Chi-Trib believes increased protection usage or abstention from sex, and teens and parents “listening”, are the the reasons the pregnancy rate continues to decline.  And because of that, readers should infer that what primarily liberal social organizations and politicos (and editorial boards) have been advocating for decades (explicit sex ed in the classroom) has done its job: Teens aren’t getting pregnant as much as they used to, so they simply must be choosing to be safer!  In the process of praising the supposedly increased responsibility of young people, they actually praise the 14% of teen girls who used the “morning after pill”, because apparently pregnancy is the only thing we want to prevent our young people from experiencing as a result of engaging in casual sex.

Here’s the reality: Young people, teens and young men and women in their early 20s, are responsible for half of the STIs in America, even though they only make up 25% of the sexually active population. The use of the morning after pill has tripled in a little over a decade, most of it by young women who made CONSCIOUS DECISIONS not to have safe sex.  Remember: the morning after pill does NOT prevent disease, so there’s no telling how many of those women who took the morning after pill instead of insisting their partner use a condom contributed to the STI stats.  Same same for the men who didn’t use a condom. With all that in mind,  just who is being responsible here? Not our young people, and certainly not the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune with its selective “reporting”, which does its readers a major disservice.

You shouldn’t be surprised, of course.  Nor should you be particularly shocked by where I read about this.  I don’t read the Chi-Trib a whole lot, but I do read the online edition of the Charlotte Observer from time to time just to see what they’re up to.  Here’s their reprint (and endorsement) of the biased, one-sided, misleading Chi-Trib editorial.


Related:  Via ABC News – CDC Warns of Super-Gonorrhea