Mahad Darar, the author of today’s lead story, didn’t need confirmation from the Biden administration that U.S. missiles had reached Yemen. He knew that people in Sanaa could already hear the blasts as they hit Houthi targets in the capital

The strikes – launched by both the U.S. and U.K. military on Thursday – were ordered in retaliation to weeks of raids by Houthi rebels on maritime vessels in the Red Sea. The aim, according to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, is to “disrupt and degrade” the capabilities of the Iran-backed Houthis to launch attacks.

That might have been achieved in the U.S.-led attack. But Darar, an expert on Yemen at Colorado State University, suggests that might not be the only result. Rather than diminish the Houthis, the attack could embolden them and give them fresh purpose as they emerge from years of intense fighting against rival Yemeni groups.

“The Houthis thrive on foreign aggression to consolidate their power,” he writes. “During the civil war, Houthis were able to portray themselves as the defender of Yemen against Saudi influence. Now they can add U.S. and U.K. interference to the mix.”

This week we also liked stories on the recent Tetris champion and other video game heroes, the physics of sliding snow during an avalanche and the NRA’s messy finances.

Matt Williams

Senior International Editor

Houthi supporters rally in Yemen following U.S.-U.K. airstrikes. Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

US-UK airstrikes risk strengthening Houthi rebels’ position in Yemen and the region

Mahad Darar, Colorado State University

The raid follows warnings from Washington to cease attacks in the Red Sea − but it could serve to strengthen rebels and reignite civil war.

Laundry washwater is a major source of microplastic fibers that can end up in water and soil. Venca-Stastny/iStock via Getty Images

Laundry is a top source of microplastic pollution – here’s how to clean your clothes more sustainably

Judith Weis, Rutgers University - Newark

Your washing machine is polluting the ocean.

Daoism, which emphasizes harmony with nature, can inform individuals on their relationship with the environment. Ma Yuan 'Walking on Path in Spring.' National Palace Museum via Wikimedia Commons

What Taoism teaches about the body and being healthy

Michael Naparstek, University of Tennessee

A scholar of Daoist rituals explains how the indigenous tradition of China understands the human body as being part of the larger cosmos.

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