• ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday June 6, 2017

    Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ D-Day: 73 years ago today. The US, Britain, and Canada opened a second front against the Nazis.
    A young, low-level intelligence contractor is first person charged with leaking, re Russian interference in 2016 election 
    (New York Times)

    She’s a big Bernie Sanders supporter and may have thought this was part of the “Resistance,” which she has supported online.

    The case showed the department’s willingness to crack down on leaks, as Mr. Trump has called for in complaining that they are undermining his administration. His grievances have contributed to a sometimes tense relationship with the intelligence agencies he now oversees.

    The Justice Department announced the case against the contractor, Reality Leigh Winner, 25, about an hour after the national-security news outlet The Intercept published the apparent document, a May 5 intelligence report from the National Security Agency. –New York Times

    Comment: Good. A first step.

    Now, go after the big boys and girls, who aren’t as careless as kids still on their parents’ insurance.

     Chicago’s free fire zone: 3 dead, 3 wounded in eight hours (Chicago Tribune)

    “I always see this on TV,” [the uncle of 23-year-old-victim Devonta Scott] said looking at frantic relatives holding each other splashed in strobing police lights. “I just never thought it would happen to me.” –Chicago Tribune

    And then, the most common ending to all this shootings in poor, black neighborhoods.

    Police reported no arrests. –Chicago Tribune

    Comment: The problems are extremely serious and just as hard to manage.

    • The city needs a lot more police but cannot afford them.
    • The worst neighborhoods know who the criminals are, but they don’t cooperate with the police, either because they don’t trust the cops or they fear the bad guys, or both
    • The gangs have splintered, so dozens and dozens of gangs are fighting lethally for each street corner.
    • The gang members have no fathers, no education, and no jobs

    The headlines mislead outsiders in one important respect. The crime and killing is largely a product of–and confined to–very poor neighborhoods. Occasionally, it spills out as members try to escape their enemies or rob the rich, but that’s uncommon.

     The sanctions against Qatar are beginning to bite.  

    Qatar flight ban begins as Gulf crisis grows (BBC) The Saudis and Egyptians are leading this move.

    Several countries have cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism in the Gulf region.

    Qatari nationals in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been given two weeks to leave.

    Qatar denies backing militants and its foreign minister has called for “a dialogue of openness and honesty”.

    Egypt said it was closing off its airspace to Qatar from 04:00 GMT on Tuesday “until further notice”. –BBC

    Comment: The sanctions are a very good idea against a very bad actor, one the US has coddled for years because we have bases there. No more. And the shift in US policy made it easier for the Arab states to form this coalition.

    The question is whether it’s a first step or a showy diversion to avoid taking others, such as staunching the local donations to terrorists.

    Additional Reading:

    For a magazine-length piece on Qatar’s controversial history, this new article in The Atlantic is very good.

     Over 130 British Imams have refused to perform burial services for the attackers  (CBS)

    The ritual is normally carried out for every Muslim, regardless of their actions.

    In what is a highly unusual move, Muslim religious leaders from different schools of Islam — both Sunni and Shia — issued a statement late Monday saying their pain at the suffering of the victims of Saturday’s attacks had led to their decision, and they called on others imams to follow suit. –CBS

    Comment: Good. Also good: it seems like several Muslims who knew the attackers told the police about them, but the officials dropped the ball.

    One reason why important things slip through the cracks: the UK current has 500 active terror investigations, plus another 3000 top-tier subjects of interest, and 20,000 more one tier below that. Those numbers are overwhelming.



  • Treating the Opioid Epidemic

    The overuse use of opioids has become a national crisis.

    The user’s descent into pain, addition, and sometimes death often begins with physical pain, treated by prescription medicine. The patient can become addicted to the prescribed opioids, only to find they provide less and less relief or that the prescriptions run out. At that point, they turn to under-the-counter meds and sometimes move on to heroin. This descent often ends in medical emergencies and, if the addict cannot break the tenacious habit, it ends in death.
    The numbers are staggering. 2.6 million Americans are hooked on opioids such as oxycodone, fentanyl, and heroin.

    Fatalities, around 8,000 in 1999, are now over 33,000, according to the Center for Disease Control.

    A valuable, brief article in the Wall Street Journal discusses the way forward. The author, Dr. Sally Satel, is scholar-physician who treats addicts and studies the epidemic.

    Dr. Satel makes several important points:

    • Treatment is far better than punishment
    • The “medicalized rhetoric” of the public-health establishment oversimplifies the problem since the problem is more than a “brain disease”
    • Because the problem is more complex, simply prescribing anti-addiction medications will not solve it
      • Many patients use opioids even while using the anti-addiction meds
      • Others drop out of the anti-addiction med programs
      • The anti-addiction medications are subject to abuse themselves
    • More effective solutions require supervision to ensure the patient actually takes the anti-addiction medication and receives support through the difficult withdrawal process.
    • The supervision may need to be involuntary, mandated by courts, for some patients

    The problem is widespread, deadly, and hard to solve. Dr. Satel’s explanation and suggested approach makes her article well worth reading.


  • Worth reading: Eliot Cohen, “When Pres. Trump Goes to War”

    Eliot Cohen is one of the country’s leading strategic thinkers, with deep experience advising the government and senior military officials.

    His thoughts on how Pres. Trump might use force or threats are well worth pondering.

    Here’s his piece in the Wall Street Journal:

    Eliot Cohen: When President Trump Goes to War (link here)
    A new commander in chief will soon face hard decisions about how and when to deploy America’s military might. What principles should guide him?

    Here is the heart of Cohen’s judgment:

    First, the United States should not commit forces to combat overseas unless the particular engagement or occasion is deemed vital to our national interest or that of our allies.

    Second, if we decide it is necessary to put combat troops into a given situation, we should do so wholeheartedly, and with the clear intention of winning.

    Third, if we do decide to commit forces to combat overseas, we should have clearly defined political and military objectives. And we should know precisely how our forces can accomplish those clearly defined objectives. And we should have and send the forces needed to do just that.

    Fourth, the relationship between our objectives and the forces we have committed…must be continually reassessed and adjusted if necessary.

    Fifth, before the U.S. commits combat forces abroad, there must be some reasonable assurance that we will have the support of the American people and their elected representatives in Congress.

    Finally, the commitment of U.S. forces to combat should be a last resort. –Eliot Cohen, opinion essay, Wall Street Journal