By The Big Guy
1. In case you’ve moved on, it’s time for a reminder that soldiers are still serving and, sadly, dying in Afghanistan. We went there in 2001, ostensibly to wage war against al-Qaeda for their attack on this country and (eventually) to find and kill Osama bin Laden. Somewhere along the way things went a bit askew and here we are over twelve years later, having spent by conservative estimates more than half a trillion dollars in the process and sacrificed the lives of twenty-three hundred American military people, a hundred twenty-six just this year, the year before we are allegedly to exit the country forever. The last six of those soldiers died in a helicopter crash just a few days ago in southern Zabul province. An investigation is under way and it is best not to jump to any conclusion. The fates will never allow us to know if these six guys wouldn’t have met a similar demise had they been on a training mission somewhere over a Nevada desert. That said, bin Laden has been dead for two and a half years. Isn’t it about time to get out of Afghanistan already and never go back?
2. While there are plenty of ways to find fault with Ikea, not the least of which is the fact that they insist on using centimeters as their unit of measure, the company has always had a strong philanthropic commitment. Six months ago Ikea generously offered temporary housing units to the government of Lebanon so that Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict in their country would have shelter, and for six months the Lebanese government has chosen to decline that offer. The units are something along the lines of a reinforced tent and apparently can survive for three years. The reason government officials declined the offer was either (a) temporary housing that can last three years might encourage the refugees not to go home at the end of the conflict or (b) temporary housing that can last three years might be more lavish than the living conditions of many native Lebanese. After six months of cajoling on the part of the United Nations, the government of Lebanon has decided that they will give it a try. Unfortunately there is no longer enough time to construct and deliver the units before harsh winter weather moves into the area. Approximately one million Syrian refugees will be forced to spend several months barely shielded from the elements until the temporary housing arrives.