Bret Stephens | How Will We Win the Second Cold War? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

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“In the First Cold War, the United States and our allies had a secret weapon against the Soviet Union and its satellites.

It didn’t come from the C.I.A. Nor was it a product of DARPA or the weapons labs at Los Alamos. It was Communism.

Communism aided the West because it saddled an imperialist Russian state with an unworkable and unpopular economic system that could not keep up with its free-market competitors. “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work” — the quintessential Russian joke about working life in the workers’ paradise — goes far to explain why a regime with tens of thousands of nuclear warheads simply petered out.

Now we are entering the Second Cold War, this time with China. That’s the takeaway from this month’s U.S.-China summit in Anchorage, in which both sides made clear that they had not only clashing interests but also incompatible values. Secretary of State Antony Blinken bluntly accused China of threatening “the rules-based order that maintains global stability.” Yang Jiechi, his Chinese counterpart, replied that the U.S. had to “stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world.” ” . . .

Judy Batalion | The Nazi-Fighting Women of the Jewish Resistance – The New York Times

Dr. Batalion is the author of the forthcoming “The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos,” from which this essay is adapted.

“In 1943, Niuta Teitelbaum strolled into a Gestapo apartment on Chmielna Street in central Warsaw and faced three Nazis. A 24-year-old Jewish woman who had studied history at Warsaw University, Niuta was likely now dressed in her characteristic guise as a Polish farm girl with a kerchief tied around her braided blond hair.

She blushed, smiled meekly and then pulled out a gun and shot each one. Two were killed, one wounded. Niuta, however, wasn’t satisfied. She found a physician’s coat, entered the hospital where the injured man was being treated, and killed both the Nazi and the police officer who had been guarding him.

“Little Wanda With the Braids,” as she was nicknamed on every Gestapo most-wanted list, was one of many young Jewish women who, with supreme cunning and daring, fought the Nazis in Poland. And yet, as I discovered over several years of research on these resistors, their stories have largely been overlooked in the broader history of Jewish resistance in World War II.” . . .

The AstraZeneca Vaccine: Should You Be Concerned? – (NO says) The New York Times

“. . .  Based on that data, about 1,000 to 2,000 blood clots occur in the U.S. population every day, according to Dr. Stephan Moll, a hematologist and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina.

“The United States has 253 million adults,” Dr. Moll said. “So, if every day 2.3 million people in the United States get Covid-vaccinated, that means about 1 percent of the adult population gets vaccinated every day.”

Calculating further, he said, roughly 1 percent of the 1,000 to 2,000 daily blood clots — 10 to 20 a day — would occur in the vaccinated patients just as part of the normal background rates, not related to the vaccine.

“Only if epidemiological data show that that rate is higher, would one start to wonder about a causative relationship,” Dr. Moll said.’

David Lindsay:  Based on the article above, this analyst thinks that the European countries that are freezing the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout during careful review, is not following the science. They are acting emotionally, and possibly moved my anti British sentiment that is currently popular. It makes no sense to stop a vaccine because of 3 or 6 case of blood clotting and death, if those numbers are below the expected average for the population at large, which scientist report is the case here. While the article would be improved with hard data of the expected average blood clot numbers in Europe, the US numbers are helpful, since the population of all of Europe is comparable to the US population. If I remember, it is slightly larger.

Thomas L. Friedman | Israel, the U.A.E. and a New Middle East – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

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“I was Googling around the other day for a factoid: how many Israelis had visited the United Arab Emirates since the signing of their normalization agreement, known as the Abraham Accords. Answer: more than 130,000.

Jumping Jehoshaphat, Batman! In the middle of a global pandemic, at least 130,000 Israeli tourists and investors have flown to Dubai and Abu Dhabi since commercial air travel was established in mid-October!

I believed from the start that the openings between Israel and the U.A.E., Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan — forged by Jared Kushner and Donald Trump — could be game-changing. We are still in the early phase, though, and having lived through the shotgun marriage and divorce of Israelis and Lebanese Christians in the 1980s, I will wait a bit before sending wedding gifts.”

“. . . Today, “there are three powerful non-Arab actors in the region — Iran, Turkey and Israel — and they have each constructed their own regional axis,” argues Itamar Rabinovich, the Israeli Middle East historian, who just co-wrote “Syrian Requiem,” a smart history of the Syrian civil war. Those three axes, Rabinovich explains, are Turkey with Qatar and their proxy Hamas; Iran with Syria and Iran’s proxies running Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen; and Israel with the U.A.E., Bahrain and tacitly Saudi Arabia and Oman.

It’s the interactions of these three axes, says Rabinovich, that are really driving Middle East politics today. And because the U.A.E.-Israel axis brings together the most successful Arab state with the most successful non-Arab state, it’s radiating a lot of energy.” . . .

Stephen Wertheim | America Is Not ‘Back.’ And Americans Should Not Want It to Be. – The New York Times

Mr. Wertheim is a historian of American foreign policy and the director of grand strategy at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a think tank.

Credit…David Tulis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

” “America is back,” President Biden has declared in every major foreign policy speech he has given since taking office. He means to restore what he sees as the essence of global leadership — the United States joining with allies to “fight for our shared values” — that his predecessor defiled. Back, then, is America’s quest to order the world in the name of democracy, human rights and the American way.

After four years of Donald Trump, the impulse to return to familiar habits is understandable. But those habits, especially the moralization of one country’s armed dominance, have proved destructive. What matters is whether the Biden administration will actually make America — No. 1 in armed force and arms dealing — less violent in the world. In that regard, Mr. Biden’s larger vision, of the United States dividing the globe into subordinate allies and multiplying adversaries, and shouldering the burdens toward both, remains troubling, no matter how high-minded his rhetoric or diplomatic his actions.

Mr. Biden has signaled some improvement so far. He has cut off Washington’s support for “offensive operations” in Yemen and related arms sales to Saudi Arabia, reversing the awful policy initiated by President Barack Obama and intensified by President Trump. He has taken steps toward re-entering the nuclear agreement with Iran, essential for avoiding future wars.” . . .

By Maeve Higgins | Joe Biden, the Irishman – The New York Times

Ms. Higgins is a contributing opinion writer who regularly writes about immigration and life in New York City.

Credit…Paul Faith/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“In November, a BBC reporter shouted a question at President-elect Joe Biden. He responded, “The BBC? I’m Irish” before flashing a huge smile and disappearing through a doorway. The clip went viral and Ireland went wild.

President Biden’s Irishness is important to him: He likes to quote Seamus Heaney and W.B. Yeats, and borrowed James Joyce’s words as he bid farewell to Delaware the night before his inauguration. An Irish violinist played Irish hymns at the mass before the event. Back in the old country, people are keen to claim him, too. His ancestral family are mini-celebrities there — his third cousin, a plumber named Joe Blewitt, emblazoned his work van with the words “Joe Biden for the White House, Joe Blewitt for your house.” Frankly, the whole thing is adorable. What I want to know is, how deep does it go?” . . .

It’s gratifying to see, certainly. But what my Irishness leads me to is the old Ireland, the truly dark and terrifying place that Mr. Biden’s forefathers fled from. Who is their equivalent now? And can the president see them for what they are and act accordingly?

The parallels between Ireland in the 1800s, when Mr. Biden’s forefathers left, and, say, Syria or South Sudan today are horribly apt. The Syrian people, brave and revolutionary, simply needed a fair system of government and, later, a safe place to recover and restart their lives. But Americans have looked away. The South Sudanese, reeling from brutal colonization, continue to struggle through ethnic division and civil war. Surely too in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, there are poets and musicians who dream of the rhyme of hope and history, if only we stopped to listen.

The early signs are promising. During his campaign, Mr. Biden promised to lift the cap on refugee admissions from 15,000 to 125,000. But so much more is needed from America — just as it was in the 19th century, when roughly one in two people born in Ireland emigrated. Patrick Blewitt, Mr. Biden’s great-great grandfather, left a famine-stricken land in 1850, becoming one of the 1.8 million Irish people to arrive in America between 1845 and 1855. His parents and siblings soon followed. Another million Irish people did not make it, staying behind to die of starvation or sickness.” . . .

Lovely piece by Maeve Higgins.  She would have us taken as many refugees as is possible without delineation. I can’t agree with her.  Biden is doing enough, to allow in 125,000 a year. Part of taking care of the planet, is reducing population growth. We need to stop illegal immigration, allow for guest workers after amending the constitutional amendment that makes their children all citizens, and work towards a generous Marshall like plan to help our neighbors to the south curb their population growth, and rebuild their economies, and in some places, their governments. Legalizing all addictive drugs, would help reduce the negative effects of the $50 Billion a year illegal drug trade, that destabilizes governments, while empowering drug gangs.

Regarding Syria and the middle east, we can return to strengthening our allies, if there are any left, after Trump betrayed them, and let the Turks, the Russians, and the  Bashar al-Assad regime slaughter them. 

Marie Kondo Talks About Tidying Up in 2021 and Her New Product Launch – The New York Times

It was perhaps inevitable that Marie Kondo, the one-time Shinto shrine maiden turned tidiness guru and media powerhouse, would expand her organizing business into products.

Yet her first embrace of consumerism more than a year ago roiled the internet, which cried foul as she began selling an array of minimalist objects — housewares, decorative items and organizing supplies — that included pink suede slippers, a boar-bristle broom set and, most notably, a tuning fork presented as a “reset” tool, the ping of which one imagined was the actual sound of “sparking joy,” Ms. Kondo’s trademark phrase.

It was a spare (ish) collection, however. Her latest foray is expansive: 100 organizing objects in a collaboration with — wait for it — the Container Store.

This is the second blockbuster alliance between the retailer and what we might call organizing media. Last year the Container Store partnered with the Home Edit, the Tennessee-based company responsible for Khloé Kardashian’s hair extension closet — an Instagram sensation the writer Amanda FitzSimons likened to an art installation about late-stage capitalism. If Ms. Kondo’s ethos of aspirational organization leans toward emotional and moral clarity — a transformative act, as she often points out — the Home Edit, which uses the colors of the rainbow as its organizing principle, is the equivalent of flashing a logo. (“Conscientious luxury” is how Pam Danziger, a marketing expert, would define both efforts, a trend on point for 2021.)

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NY Times Comment:
Someone who knows me, asked me to read her little book on tidying up the house. It was good advice, and I resolved to try harder. One of her neat ideas, hold up each individual x, a book in the library, a record or CD, and ask, does this item give me joy? If it doesn’t, give it up. She obviously isn’t a writer and historian with archival instincts. Yet, I know that the internet has made most of my archives obsolete. What really keeps me from cleaning up? I’d rather read the NY Times and its competitors and blog about the world going to hell in a handbasket. Also, deep down inside, I know that the easiest way to really clean up, is to die, and the ones who follow will less anguish than I over my multitude of collections.

By Toby Levy | The Holocaust Stole My Youth. Covid-19 Is Stealing My Last Years – The New York Times

Ms. Levy is a retired accountant and a volunteer docent for the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times

“These days, I’m a little bored.

The boardwalk is my lifesaver. I’m two blocks from the boardwalk. I can walk to Coney Island if I want to. I go alone. I have some friends here. We used to play canasta once a week. But when Covid arrived, my daughter insisted, “You can’t sit in one room!” So I talk on the phone. I read. The grandkids call in by Zoom. I also do a little bit of Zoom lecturing for the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

I keep very busy, and it helps me a lot. I am trying not to give up. But what is getting me down is that I am losing a year. And this bothers me terribly. I’m 87 years old, and I lost almost a full year.

I’m doing everything I can to stay connected, to make an impact. So even now, amid Covid, I tell my story to schools and to audiences the museum organizes for me, by Zoom.

Here’s what I say: I was born in 1933 in a small town called Chodorow, now Khodoriv, about 30 minutes by car from Lvov, now Lviv, in what was then Poland and is now Ukraine. We lived in the center of town in my grandfather’s house. The Russians occupied the town from 1939 to 1941, then the Germans from 1941 to 1944. My father was well liked in town by Jews and non-Jews. One day in early 1942, one of the guys came to him and said, “Moshe, it’s going to be a big killing. Better find a hiding place.” So my father built a place to hide in the cellar. My grandfather didn’t want to go. He was shot in the kitchen; we heard it.”

Brexit’s Silver Lining for Europe – The New York Times

“PARIS — It is done at last. On Jan. 1, with the Brexit transition period over, Britain will no longer be part of the European Union’s single market and customs union. The departure will be ordered, thanks to a last-minute deal running to more than 1,200 pages, but still painful to both sides. A great loss will be consummated.

Loss for the European Union of one of its biggest member states, a major economy, a robust military and the tradition, albeit faltering, of British liberalism at a time when Hungary and Poland have veered toward nationalism.

Loss for Britain of diplomatic heft in a world of renewed great power rivalry; of some future economic growth; of clarity over European access for its big financial services industry; and of countless opportunities to study, live, work and dream across the continent.

The national cry of “take back control” that fired the Brexit vote in an outburst of anti-immigrant fervor and random grievances withered into four and a half years of painful negotiation pitting a minnow against a mammoth. Posturing encountered reality. The British economy is less than one-fifth the size of the bloc’s. President Trump is leaving office, and with him goes any hope of a rapid offsetting British-American trade agreement.

“Brexit is an act of mutual weakening,” Michel Barnier, the chief European Union negotiator, told the French daily Le Figaro.

But the weakening is uneven. Britain is closer to fracture. The possibility has increased that Scotland and Northern Ireland will opt to leave the United Kingdom and, by different means, rejoin the European Union. The bloc, by contrast, has in some ways been galvanized by the trauma of Brexit. It has overcome longstanding obstacles, lifted its ambitions and reignited the Franco-German motor of closer union.

“Brexit i not good news for anyone, but it has unquestionably contributed to a reconsolidation of Europe, which demonstrated its unity throughout the negotiations,” François Delattre, the secretary-general of the French foreign ministry, said.

The European Union — prodded by Brexit, facing the coronavirus pandemic, and confronting the hostility of Mr. Trump — has done things previously unimaginable. It has taken steps in a quasi-federal direction that Britain always opposed.

Germany abandoned a tenacious policy of austerity. The federalization of European debt, long taboo for the Germans, became possible. The European Union can now borrow as a government does — a step toward sovereign stature and a means to finance the $918 billion pandemic recovery fund that a British presence would probably have blocked.

“Brexit made Angela Merkel willing to abandon positions that had been sacred,” said Karl Kaiser, a former head of the German Council on Foreign Relations. “There has long been a debate about widening or deepening the European Union. Well, it has deepened.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT

Thank you Roger Cohen, your reporting is like Visa and Mastercard, priceless. I am thinking of a second story to organize. Was Brexit possibly the brainchild or Vladimir Putin of Russia, or did the Russians really help push the Brexit vote into victory? It appears that the only real winner of Brexit, is Russia. I read that the largest google search the UK after the historic and tragic vote was, “What is Brexit?” Is it true that the cheapest and least professional newspapers, especially Rupert Murdoch’s, pushed the Brexit division along, in a publishing war, for who could sell the most scandal mongering tabloids, and did the main stream papers make the mistake of competing with some of their own junk. What a colossal mess. It has been a fabulous four years for Putin. Maybe Time Magazine missed a beat this week, when they named Biden and Harris as Person of the Year, when the big winner of 2020 was Vladimir Putin.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs about the environment at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com.

25 Days That Changed the World: How Covid-19 Slipped China’s Grasp – The New York Times

Chris BuckleyDavid D. KirkpatrickAmy Qin and 


“The most famous doctor in China was on an urgent mission.

Celebrated as the hero who helped uncover the SARS epidemic 17 years ago, Dr. Zhong Nanshan, now 84, was under orders to rush to Wuhan, a city in central China, and investigate a strange new coronavirus. His assistant photographed the doctor on the night train, eyes closed in thought, an image that would later rocket around China and burnish Dr. Zhong’s reputation as the nation’s medic riding to the rescue.

China’s official history now portrays Dr. Zhong’s trip as the cinematic turning point in an ultimately triumphant war against Covid-19, when he discovered the virus was spreading dangerously and sped to Beijing to sound the alarm. Four days later, on Jan. 23, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, sealed off Wuhan.

That lockdown was the first decisive step in saving China. But in a pandemic that has since claimed more than 1.7 million lives, it came too late to prevent the virus from spilling into the rest of the world.

The first alarm had actually sounded 25 days earlier, exactly a year ago, last Dec. 30. Even before then, Chinese doctors and scientists had been pushing for answers, yet officials in Wuhan and Beijing concealed the extent of infections or refused to act on warnings.”