- HuffPost, April, 13, 2022 - Mounting evidence of widespread Russian atrocities in Ukraine is spurring the Biden administration and lawmakers from both parties to demand justice at a global level specifically, at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Now Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is challenging them to boost that prospect by making the U.S. a member of the court and repealing a George W. Bush-era law that requires the U.S. to block the court from investigating Americans.
Weve engaged in a process for a long time of delegitimizing these international institutions that essentially call for accountability, and I think it is really disturbing that we now think they are powerful enough to hold Russia accountable. Its easy for people to see the hypocrisy in those two statements when weve said previously that we dont believe in the ability of the court to [be] unbiased, Omar said on Wednesday.
- snip - Its really important for us not to have a law on the books that says in many ways it is OK for everyone to be prosecuted but not Americans, Omar told HuffPost. Think about just how much more powerful of a statement it would be if we didnt just call for accountability for war crimes in Ukraine in holding Russians accountable for the possible war crimes they have committed but if we actually had skin in the game.
- snip - She pressed Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the court at a hearing last year, and he responded that America had its own mechanisms for justice.
Many people around the world can say that if they want, the congresswoman told HuffPost. True justice is blind and if we are to say we are the people who respect law and order, we cant create exemptions where our people arent subjected to the rule of law and order.
She Took Off My Romeo
Pay the Man
mRNA vaccines are performing much better than those using older technology (and available to the largest part of the world). A severe dilemma develops in vaccine promotion and messaging.
- snip - A growing body of preliminary research suggests the Covid vaccines used in most of the world offer almost no defense against becoming infected by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
All vaccines still seem to provide a significant degree of protection against serious illness from Omicron, which is the most crucial goal. But only the Pfizer and Moderna shots, when reinforced by a booster, appear to have initial success at stopping infections, and these vaccines are unavailable in most of the world.
The other shots including those from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and vaccines manufactured in China and Russia do little to nothing to stop the spread of Omicron, early research shows. And because most countries have built their inoculation programs around these vaccines, the gap could have a profound impact on the course of the pandemic.
What you lose first is protection against asymptomatic mild infection, what you retain much better is protection against severe disease and death, said John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. He called it a silver lining that Omicron so far appears less lethal than the Delta variant.
interesting take by Empty Wheel April, 27, 2021
Article coming at this from a slightly different angle than what we're hearing elsewhere. Personally, I think the U.S. has an obligation to do as much as it can. It's a pandemic! But ... Is it fair to be saddling the U.S. with 'inadequate response' -- given the deplorable (near criminal) performance of Modi and his government?
Youve likely seen images of numerous funeral pyres and many graves along with sick outside overfull hospitals.
Apart from the pyres, it looks like Wuhan in January 2020, the U.S. in March 2020, and Brazil at the end of this March.
And yet there is something really wrong here, very off. The case counts and deaths are truths which cant be escaped but the insistence the U.S. somehow is failing to meet Indias needs is off base. - snip -
- snip - In the mean time invective against the Biden administration and Big Pharma has continued, some of it based in what looks like weak and less-than-thorough reporting.
Claims that Big Pharma has decided profits come before the lives of Indias people follow reports that Big Pharma refused to give India patents or transfer intellectual property.
Except that Big Pharma is represented in India by AstraZeneca, which is making their adenovirus-vector vaccine in country. Its the same vaccine which has been used in Europe, and is still in FDA safety review here.
India also has its own Big Pharma in Bharat Biotech, which has developed Covaxin vaccine in collaboration with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. The vaccine left Phase 3 trials in early January.
Yet intelligent people continue to harangue the U.S. and Big Pharma about their refusal to help India with the IP needed for licensing. They retweet stuff like this:
The account that wrote this was opened only weeks ago in January 2021. Theres almost nothing in its profile to suggest this is a human with credible background education or experience; the account hasnt been validated by Twitter. Note the number of times this has been shared by retweet or quote tweet, yet the majority of roughly 6000 tweets by this account are about pop culture.
This is the kind of social media content which ramped up tension around U.S. response to Indias ongoing COVID surge and continues to do so because it remains uncontested.
The issue the tweet focused on was vaccine manufacturers request for indemnification by countries which use its vaccine or licensing to manufacture vaccines. How odd that an account tweeting about beauty products and the Kardashians chose to phrase indemnification this way. - snip -
ouch! That's gotta' sting a little bit!
Predicting staffing changes in certain offices.
Resets the timeline in the U.S. -- Also reemphasizes "community" contact vector.
NYTimes (no paywall)
-- The first Covid-19 death in the United States had previously been thought to be on Feb. 26 in Seattle, one of the worst-hit cities in the country.
-- Officials in Santa Clara County said Wednesday that a newly discovered coronavirus-linked death Feb. 6, the earliest known death in the United States caused by the virus, was one of more than a dozen deaths in the county that the medical examiner had suspicions about and ordered investigated.
- snip -- The Feb. 6 death was a 57-year-old woman who died at her home in Silicon Valley, officials said Wednesday.
-- The announcement has reset the timeline of the spread of infection in the United States.
-- Officials have said that the death was believed to have been the result of community spread, not travel to another country.
Good (layman accesible/understandable) info at NYTimes. (not behind a paywall for Covid reporting) Wish it were better news, but .. Calling it a hodge-podge is probably being kind.
- snip -- In Laredo, officials discovered the tests they received were woefully inadequate. The local health department found them to have a reliability of about 20 percent, far from the 93 to 97 percent the company had claimed. A police investigation led to a federal seizure of the tests.
- snip -- More than 90 companies have jumped into the market since the F.D.A. eased its rules and allowed antibody tests to be sold without formal federal review or approval. -snip - Their products vary. Some test only for a transient antibody that spikes while the body is in the throes of an active infection. An antibody that peaks about four weeks after infection and typically marks longer-term immunity is a separate target. There are tests that look for both antibodies; others also look for a third involved in respiratory infections.
- snip -- Rapid tests are by far the easiest to administer. But they are also the most unreliable so much so that the World Health Organization recommends against their use. Most are manufactured in China. Reports of countries that quickly bought millions have just as swiftly been followed by accounts of poor performance. For example, Britain recently said the millions of rapid tests it had ordered from China were not sensitive enough to detect antibodies except in people who were severely ill. In Spain, the testing push turned into a fiasco last month after the initial batch of kits it received had an accuracy of 30 percent, rather than the advertised 80 percent.
- snip -- In an effort to speed up access, the F.D.A. apparently did not fully consider how these tests would be administered. The agency released a guidance document saying that antibody tests could be performed at point-of-care settings, indicating that doctors, nurses and others could give them to patients in their offices. But agency officials also acknowledged that under federal law, if a test has not been authorized by the agency, it must be conducted in so-called high-complexity laboratories, like some large commercial facilities or public health labs. The officials decline to provide additional clarification.
-- When the proportion of people exposed is that low, the tests false positive rate signaling antibodies where there are none can limit the tests utility.
-- Even Cellexs F.D.A.-authorized test has a false positive rate of about 5 percent. That is still a significant margin of error: In a community where 5 percent of people have had the virus, Dr. Osterholm said, there would be as many false positives as true ones.
The good news .. tests are (finally) becoming more available .. in some situations, and in some places.
The not so good news .. they're mostly a mess, and they're likely not really giving us the information we need.
Good reporting on the incident. Well worth the read (and the Times is not behind a paywall)
Among other things, 1) Modly was advised by military leaders to "wait for the investigation" .. but pleasing Trump (or fear of displeasing Trump) caused him to act. 2) The address aboard the Roosevelt horrified civilian and military alike. Modly was probably gone before he set down back in the states. 3) Military are concerned that the incident highlights not only problems with this virus and this carrier .. but also systemic issues dealing with discipline, respect and command.
-snip - ... infuriated Mr. Modly. His next actions stunned Pentagon officials and effectively turned the crew of the Roosevelt even more solidly against him. Mr. Modly boarded a Gulfstream business jet at an airfield in suburban Washington and made the 35-hour round-trip flight to Guam, at a cost of $243,116.65, according to a Navy official, confirming a report in USA Today.
- snip - Then he went to the Roosevelt and delivered a 15-minute diatribe over the ships loudspeakers berating the crew for cheering for its captain. He called Captain Crozier either too naïve or too stupid to command an aircraft carrier. He told the sailors they should never trust the media. He blamed China for the virus. Less than 30 minutes later, after taking no questions from the sailors, he was gone.
good read -- as the Supreme Court inches the judiciary ever closer to an incoherent, and increasingly untenable, policy on "religious freedoms."
- snip - A few years ago, two Michigan prison inmates, proclaiming themselves adherents of the Christian Identity religion, sought the prisons official recognition to be allowed to conduct their own worship services, apart from other inmates.
- snip - The two prisoners sued under a federal law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. They lost in Federal District Court. This month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned that ruling. The court said the district judge, Phillip Green, had misapplied the law by weighing the prisons interest in safety as part of his analysis of whether the prison was placing an improper burden on the mens exercise of their chosen religion.
If you just did a double-take, so did I when I came upon this opinion. If you wondered whether the members of the three-judge appellate panel were recent Trump appointees who perhaps share his administrations desire to elevate religious claims above all else, so did I. They were not.
- snip - The startling fact of the matter is that Judges Griffin, Stranch and Donald were applying the law as they found it as the Supreme Court has handed it to them in a series of decisions instructing judges to accept almost any religious claim, no matter how preposterous, at face value and to put the government to an extremely tough test to justify any infringement on a sincere religious belief.
- snip - Rather than looking at the Sixth Circuit prison decision, Fox v. Washington, as an outlier, we need to see it as a harbinger, a frightening one. I dont know whether this particular case will end up at the Supreme Court. But there are plenty of cases like it, making claims that would have been dismissed out of hand not too many years ago and that now have to be taken seriously by those of us worried about the growing threat that an increasingly weaponized free-exercise clause poses to civil society, along with the statutes meant to extend its reach.
Good read on assassination, definitions, executive power and mission creep, legal vs illegal .. and how we got here with targeted killing.
A One-Word Accusation Swirls Around Trumps Deadly Strike: Assassination
Government powers to target people abroad are becoming broader as well as more contested and more complex, said Susan Hennessey, executive editor of Lawfare, a legal affairs site. The term assassination is kind of the converse of that, an identification of where the government has exceeded its authority and violated its own ban.
Past administrations have widened that authority so substantially that, if you surveyed every legal scholar, youre probably going to see a fairly strong agreement that this is probably lawful, she said, referring to Mr. Suleimanis killing.
But that would not make his killing just, moral or wise, Ms. Hennessey stressed, only that it would fall within legal precedents set by past administrations. And any rationale remains hypothetical. The administration has presented no legal justification, raising concerns that it may have acted without first establishing the orders legality.