Susan Collins’s rationale for acquitting Trump aged poorly before she could even cast her vote

“Following a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday in which she announced she’ll vote to acquit, Collins told Norah O’Donnell of CBS that she believes Trump “has learned from this case” and “will be much more cautious in the future.”

Getting impeached “is a pretty big lesson,” Collins said — the implication being that Trump will be chastened going forward from trying to pervert diplomacy into an opposition research opportunity, as he did with the Ukrainian government.”

“Trump has spent five months insisting that a phone call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that’s at the heart of his impeachment — one in which Trump implicitly linked military aid to Ukraine with the country helping him with investigations of his political rivals — is “perfect.””

“look at the circumstances surrounding the Zelensky call. It happened on July 25 — one day after special counsel Robert Mueller wound down his investigation of Trump by testifying to Congress and saying Trump could be indicted after his term for obstructing justice because of his interference with the Russia investigation.

But instead of responding to the end of the Russia investigation by cooling his jets, Trump was on the phone with the Ukrainian president the very next day trying to solicit political favors — the very same conduct that fueled suspicions about his Russia dealings in the first place.”

“Trump told reporters during an off-the-record lunch on Tuesday that, indeed, he doesn’t feel he has any lessons to learn from getting impeached.”

How the feds missed their chance at a coronavirus vaccine

“The two scientists from the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development had developed the vaccine against another coronavirus, SARS — but that epidemic ended before their vaccine was ready. And once the crisis was over, most of their funding dried up.”

“That was a big missed opportunity. They and other scientists say SARS should have been seen as a coronavirus warning shot, not an isolated outbreak, and it should have triggered federal investments like the billions sunk into flu vaccines a decade or so earlier. They want the federal government to act rapidly now to declare a public health emergency, get a vaccine developed, have it approved by the FDA and ready to slow the Wuhan virus’ march across China and globe.

Based on past experience, though, the chances of all that falling into place fast enough to turn the tide aren’t great, many scientists say.”

‘They Did Not Realize We Are Human Beings’

“Testings on Bikini Atoll commenced within days and U.S. officials ordered families out of their homes to a more distant island. It was the start of a series of tests that would end up spreading nuclear fallout across the region. Within several years, islanders were suffering from thyroid cancers and a slew of other illnesses that researchers quickly determined were linked to nuclear testing. While the U.S. finally ended its nuclear tests in 1958—after detonating 67 bombs that vaporized entire islands and left deep craters in others—horrifying birth defects cropped up for decades.”

“More serious reckoning with that legacy took decades. Under a deal hammered out in the 1980s, the U.S. allowed residents of the Marshall Islands, as well as those of Micronesia and Palau, to relocate to the United States under what’s called the Compact of Free Association. The agreement also promised them access to health coverage through the American safety-net health program Medicaid—a pledge that collapsed a decade later, an incidental casualty of Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton’s sweeping welfare reform package in 1996, which excluded the islanders from a list of Medicaid-eligible groups.

“I’m not sure whether we’ll ever know whether it was intentional to remove the [island] communities from Medicaid or just something folks missed,””

“the Marshallese who lived through the nuclear tests, which ended in 1958, have largely passed away, with the average life expectancy on the islands reaching only 63 for men and 67 for women. Their children and grandchildren, inheritors of the toxic legacy, have looked for new homes as the islands face old problems like radiation and emerging crises like climate change.

Pockets of islanders have since cropped up in the continental United States, with large populations in Hawaii and Arkansas and smaller circles in places like Oklahoma, Oregon and Dubuque, Iowa. And they bring their illnesses with them.”

Jared Kushner, architect of Trump’s Middle East peace plan, still doesn’t get it

“About 500,000 Israelis live in the settlements, of which there are about 130 scattered around the West Bank. Roughly 75 percent of settlers live on or near the West Bank border with Israel. Some of the settlements are vast communities that house tens of thousands of people and look like suburban developments. Some look like hand-built shanty outposts.

Settlements create what Israelis and Palestinians call “new facts on the ground.” Palestinian communities are split apart and their connection to the land weakened, while Jewish communities put down roots in territory meant for Palestinians.

In effect, it shrinks the area of land left available for any future Palestinian state to exist on and chops it up into pieces, destroying its potential viability as a real, contiguous state. For some settlers, this is the point: They want the West Bank fully incorporated as Israeli territory and are trying to make that happen.”

“Instead of coming up with a plan that would see those settlers relocated or finding some other solution, Kushner’s plan just takes the huge chunk of land where most of the settlements are located and gives it to Israel. In return, Palestinians get some pockets of land far away in the desert on the border with Egypt and not much else.”

Trump’s Israel-Palestine peace plan, explained

“There’s a lot to this document, but there are four major elements of the new political proposal in particular you need to know about: 1) Israel keeps the vast majority of Jerusalem as its sovereign capital; 2) Palestinians get no right of return; 3) it redraws borders mainly between Israel and the West Bank; and 4) doesn’t allow for Palestine to create a fighting force to defend itself.”

Trump’s Israel-Palestine “peace plan” is a con

“The president released the long-awaited political framework of his “Peace to Prosperity” plan on Tuesday afternoon after a White House ceremony featuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The proposal is missing a signature feature of every prior peace plan: a path to a viable Palestinian state. It divides up the Palestinian territories and surrounds them by Israel, and gives Israel total control over Palestinian security — allowing a future Palestinian government to exercise full control over its own land only when Israel deems it acceptable. It’s a kind of state-minus: a Palestine without much of its land and subservient to Israel for basic functions.

“Trump can try to make this a Palestinian state by calling it a state. But it ain’t ever gonna whistle,” writes Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy.

Needless to say, the Palestinians cannot and will not agree to such humiliation, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already ruled it out.”

“the Palestinians didn’t even have a role in writing the plan: It was put together primarily by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, in consultation with the Israeli government. The notion that this is a good-faith effort to make peace is laughable.”

“it doesn’t seem like an accident that the plan was released on the same day that Israel’s attorney general formally indicted Netanyahu on bribery and corruption charges.”

“Prior to the Trump plan, the basic framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations had been relatively fixed. There would be two states, with the Palestinians taking control of the overwhelming bulk of the Palestinian-populated West Bank and Gaza Strip, and with Israel largely retreating to its current internationally recognized borders.

The two sides would come to agreement on thorny issues like which Israeli settlements in the West Bank could become part of Israel, and how exactly to share Jerusalem (a holy city for Judaism and Islam that both sides claim as their capital).

The Trump plan pretty much throws out this framework entirely.

Instead of allowing the two sides to negotiate solutions to these core disagreements, the plan lays out a detailed vision for final terms before negotiations have even begun.”

“Such a land grab would force Israel down one of two dangerous one-state paths.

Option one would be to give the vote to Palestinians and make them full citizens of Israel, leading to an Arab demographic majority and thus ending Israel’s status as a Jewish state. This is not only a recipe for violence between Muslims and Jews but also unacceptable to Israel’s current leadership, who care much more about the state’s Jewish character than its democratic one.

The other option is indefinite Israeli rule over Palestinians without granting them citizenship. There’s a word for keeping an ethnically defined part of your population in permanent second-class citizenship: apartheid.”

Why Republicans are suddenly in a rush to regulate every trans kid’s puberty

“Compiled by the Trevor Project in a research brief, study after study has shown that affirming trans and gender-diverse kids in their self-exploration improves mental health and lowers suicide risk. The affirming model, which allows children to explore their gender identities at their own pace and can include puberty blockers, has been recommended by nearly every major American medical association, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the Endocrine Society, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.”

“The state now threatens to insert itself into the most basic decisions of body and identity, all to drive a handful of votes from the conservative base to win in an election year. Lost in the conservative rush to tamp down the trans rights movement are the very real lives of trans kids who simply want to transition and move on to adulthood.”

What will Palestinians do now?

“In diplomatic terms, it’s dead. Once the Palestinians and the Arab states take a clear position, then the Europeans will follow suit, and the Russians would come on board, and in the end we’re likely going to end up with a plan that is only truly supported by the US and Israel, and maybe some marginal countries.”

What Unites Republicans May Be Changing. Same With Democrats.

“Republicans on Capitol Hill are standing firmly behind Trump because GOP voters and GOP activists and elites are demanding that they do so. There just isn’t much room to break with the president of your party if close to 90 percent of voters in the party approve of him and many of those voters get their news from sources strongly supportive of that president.

Why are Republican voters and elites so strongly aligned with Trump? There’s not a simple answer, but I think identity — rather than ideology — is a big part of it. Trump is defending the identities of people who align themselves with the GOP, and this is a more powerful connection and reason to back him than pure ideological concerns. In defending Trump, conservative voters are really defending themselves.”