War and insurrection, foreign and domestic

David Rothkopf/Twitter:

The current trip to Europe is a good an example of leadership in action from a US president as we have seen in many years. Not just confidence, competence, and a clear vision at a critical moment but leading by example. We’re not just talking the talk, we’re walking the walk.

In critical area after critical area, we’ve seen concrete steps to ratchet up support for Ukraine, for Europe and to increase pressure on Europe, meaningful measures on military & humanitarian aid, sanctions, energy security for our allies.

As importantly, thanks to effective diplomacy and a real commitment to being a good partner, @Putus, @SecBlinken, @SecDef, @JakeSullivan46 & their teams have helped usher in an era in which the Atlantic Alliance is more unified than it has been for years.

What is more in an evolving crisis, the steps taken by the US and our allies have been robust–the strongest response ever to Putin’s abhorrent behavior–and they have evolved swiftly as circumstances have warranted.

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Trent Teleenko/Twitter:

Alright folks, this is a logistical 🧵on pallets, cranes, ISO containers, and what we are _NOT_ seeing on Russian Trucks in Ukraine

Below is really good background tweet 🧵on the importance of pallets as a logistic productivity tool, since we are not seeing them in Ukraine

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A wide variety of commenters taking on the Ginny Thomas news, none favorable to her.

Jane Mayer/New Yorker:

Legal Scholars Are Shocked By Ginni Thomas’s “Stop the Steal” Texts

Several experts say that Thomas’s husband, the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, must recuse himself from any case related to the 2020 election.

Stephen Gillers, a law professor at NYU and a prominent judicial ethicist, described the revelations as “a game changer.” In the past, he explained, he had supported the notion that a justice and his spouse could pursue their interests in autonomous spheres. “For that reason, I was prepared to, and did tolerate a great deal of Ginni’s political activism,” he said. But “Ginni has now crossed a line.” In an e-mail reacting to the texts, Gillers concluded, “Clarence Thomas cannot sit on any matter involving the election, the invasion of the Capitol, or the work of the January 6 Committee.”

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NY Times:

How the 2022 Primaries Are Testing Trump’s Role as the GOP ‘Kingpin’

Two of Donald Trump’s most prominent Senate endorsements have already backfired. Now the month of May looms large to measure his pull on the party.

Donald J. Trump has sought to establish himself as the Republican Party’s undisputed kingmaker in the 2022 midterms, issuing more than 120 endorsements to elevate allies, those who have crossed him and turn his baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen into a litmus test for the party.

But the range of Trump-backed candidates has become so unwieldy that even some of his own advisers have warned that his expedive effort to install loyalists nationwide has not only threatened his brand but diluted its impact, exposing him unnecessarily to political risk, according to advisers and Republican strategists.

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David Robertson/STATNews:

How we got herd immunity wrong

With the early arrival of vaccines in late 2020, prominent experts began promising that infection with SARS-CoV-2 was no longer inevitable. Herd immunity became defined as a percentage of immune individuals in a population that would stop transmission. Anthony Fauci captured this sentiment in May 2021 as a guest on “Face the Nation,” when he suggested that fully vaccinated individuals “become a dead end to the virus.” Once populations reached “the threshold of herd immunity,” he reiterated a month later, they would “see the infections almost disappear.”

Those mantras became the new plan: Get vaccinated to protect yourself, but also to protect those around you. Get to vaccine-induced herd immunity and the virus will virtually disappear from our communities.

As these failed to materialize, herd immunity has once again been dismissed as unachievable for Covid-19. As Fauci recently put it, SARS-CoV-2 will “find just about everybody.”

What went wrong?

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Syra Madad and Rebecca Katz/Foreign Affairs:

The Global Lessons of COVID-19

How Can America Prepare for the Next Pandemic?

The number of Americans reported to have died from COVID-19 is 63 percent higher than any other high-income country. The US death rate stands at 295 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 245 per 100,000 in the United Kingdom, 152 per 100,000 in Germany, and 99 per 100,000 in Canada. There are many reasons for the faltering US response, which will be dissected in detail over the coming years. They range from communication challenges, which have fueled an avalanche of misinformation, to a vaccine campaign that trails behind Australia, Canada, and many European countries. The fragmented public health infrastructure in the United States was not built or resourced to stand or respond to large-scale public health emergencies. And then there are the challenges with the US health care system itself, problems that existed long before COVID showed up: access to care, health inequities, and the underlying health conditions of Americans.

If one surveys the world to see how different countries responded to the multiple waves of COVID-19 over these last two years, there are some practices that shine brighter than the rest. No one country has had a perfect pandemic response. China’s zero-COVID policy, for example, has resulted in low morbidity and mortality rates for the first two years of the pandemic, but it has come at a hefty price. It involves social isolation, a continuous cycle of lockdowns, and curtailment of individual freedoms. And now, with the highly contagious Omicron variant—and all its sublineages, including the more transmissible BA.2 variant—it looks highly unlikely that this strategy will continue to work. Other regions that successfully mitigated the virus throughout the first two years are now dealing with large case counts and increasing deaths, such as in South Korea and Hong Kong. Although the United States can learn a great deal from COVID responses around the world, it should focus on a few important measures that would be politically and legally possible for it to carry out, including addressing misinformation and doing better on science communication, fostering trust in government, and improving the US public health data infrastructure, to name a few.

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