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Monday, February 28, 2022

Trump, Putin's Puppy

Derrick Bell - Moments of Truth

Putin Declares a Nuclear Alert, and Biden Seeks De-escalation - The New York Times

Putin Declares a Nuclear Alert, and Biden Seeks De-escalation

"When the Russian leader ordered his nuclear forces into “special combat readiness,” the U.S. could have gone on high alert. Instead, the administration tried not to inflame him.

Svetlana Akimova, 82, sheltered in a parking garage in Kyiv on Saturday as heavy fighting took place outside her apartment building.
 Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — When Vladimir V. Putin declared Sunday that he was putting his nuclear forces into “special combat readiness” — a heightened alert status reminiscent of some of the most dangerous moments of the Cold War — President Biden and his aides had a choice.

They could match the move and put American forces on Defcon 3 — known to moviegoers as that moment when the Air Force rolls out bombers, and nuclear silos and submarines are put on high alert. Or the president could largely ignore it, sending out aides to portray Mr. Putin as once again manufacturing a menace, threatening Armageddon for a war he started without provocation.

For now, at least, Mr. Biden chose to de-escalate. The American ambassador to the United Nations reminded the Security Council on Sunday afternoon that Russia was “under no threat” and chided Mr. Putin for “another escalatory and unnecessary step that threatens us all.” The White House made it clear that America’s own alert status had not changed.

But to many in the administration, who spoke on Sunday on the condition of anonymity, it was a stark reminder of how quickly the Ukraine crisis could spin into a direct superpower confrontation — and how it may yet do so, as Mr. Putin tests how far he can go and threatens to use the ultimate weapon to get there.

And his outburst highlighted anew the question, coursing through the American intelligence community, about the state of mind of the Russian leader, a man previously described as pragmatic, calculating and cunning. The former director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., said in public today what some officials have been saying in private since the Russian leader began accusing Ukraine of genocide and claiming it was developing nuclear weapons of its own.

“I personally think he’s unhinged,” Mr. Clapper said on CNN. “I worry about his acuity and balance.”

Others wonder if Mr. Putin wants to create that impression, to add to Washington’s unease. Similar concerns drove the decision not to have Mr. Biden, in Delaware for the weekend, respond to Mr. Putin’s threats. It was the second time in a week that Mr. Putin has reminded the world, and Washington, that he has a massive arsenal and might be tempted to use it. But what made the latest nuclear outburst notable was that it was staged for television, as Mr. Putin told his generals that he was acting because of the West’s “aggressive comments” about Ukraine. Russia’s most senior military officer, Valery Gerasimov, sat stone-faced as Mr. Putin issued his directive, leaving some wondering what he was thinking, and how he might respond.

“It was bizarre,” said Graham T. Allison of Harvard University, whose study of the Kennedy administration’s handling of the Cuban missile crisis, “Essence of Decision,” has been read by generations of international relations students — and many of the national security staff surrounding Mr. Biden today. Mr. Putin’s citation of “aggressive comments” as a justification for putting one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals on alert status seemed both disproportionate and puzzling, he said. “It makes no sense.”

Professor Allison, who worked on the project to decommission thousands of nuclear weapons that once belonged to the Soviet Union, which centered on Ukraine, said the incident is “adding to the worry that Putin’s grasp on reality may be loosening.”

Now the question is how General Gerasimov will translate Mr. Putin’s vaguely worded order for “special combat readiness” into action. The answer should be clear in the next day or two.

A vast nuclear-detection apparatus run by the United States and its allies monitors Russia’s nuclear forces at all times, and experts said they would not be surprised to see Russian bombers taken out of their hangars and loaded with nuclear weapons, or submarines stuffed with nuclear weapons leave port and head out to sea.

Both Russia and the United States conduct drills that replicate various levels of nuclear alert status, so the choreography of such moves is well understood by both sides. A deviation from usual practice would almost certainly be noticeable.

The ground-based nuclear forces — the intercontinental ballistic missiles kept in silos by both nations — are always in a state of readiness, a keystone to the strategy of “mutually assured destruction” that helped avoid nuclear exchanges at even the most tense moments of the Cold War.

Whatever one thinks of Mr. Putin’s judgment, the decision to put the forces on alert in the midst of extraordinary tensions over the invasion of Ukraine was highly unusual. It came only a few days after he warned the United States and other NATO powers to stay out of the conflict, adding that “the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history.”

It has put an end, at least for now, to the discussions between Russia and the United States about what they do in four years, when the one remaining nuclear treaty between the two countries, called New START, expires. The treaty limits each side to 1,550 deployed strategic weapons, down from tens of thousands at the height of the Cold War. But that does not include smaller, tactical weapons designed for battlefield use, a major worry in the current crisis. Just as Mr. Putin claimed last week that the United States had designs to put such weapons on Ukrainian territory — one of his many justifications for the invasion — American officials fear that Mr. Putin’s next move is to put them in Ukraine, if he succeeds in seizing the country, and in Belarus.

Until last week, the two nations were meeting regularly to discuss new arms-control regimes, including a revival of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which President Donald J. Trump abandoned in 2019. But the United States said last week that it was suspending those talks.

The immediate concern is that a heightened alert level, by design, loosens the safeguards on nuclear weapons, making it more possible that they could be used, by accident or design.

In recent years, Russia has adopted a doctrine that lowers the threshold for using nuclear arms, and for making public threats of unleashing their powers in deadly atomic strikes.

Understand Russia’s Attack on Ukraine

What is at the root of this invasion? Russia considers Ukraine within its natural sphere of influence, and it has grown unnerved at Ukraine’s closeness with the West and the prospect that the country might join NATO or the European Union. While Ukraine is part of neither, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.

“It’s what he does,” Hans M. Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, a global policy think tank in Washington, said in an interview. “It’s verbal saber-rattling. We’ll see where he goes with it. This war is four days old and he’s already made nuclear threats twice.”

Mr. Kristensen noted that in 2014, when Mr. Putin annexed Crimea, the peninsular part of southern Ukraine that juts into the Black Sea, the Russian president also raised the possibility that his forces might turn to atomic weapons. He recalled that when Mr. Putin was asked how he would react to retaliatory sanctions by the West, he “said he was willing to put his nuclear forces on alert.”

Mr. Putin’s announcement on Sunday came hours after Europe and the United States announced new sanctions, including banning some Russian banks from using the SWIFT financial messaging system, which settles international accounts, and crippling the Russian central bank’s ability to stabilize a falling ruble.

Matthew Kroenig, a professor of government and foreign service at Georgetown University who specializes in atomic strategy, said history bristled with cases in which nuclear powers had threatened to unleash their arsenals on one another. He pointed to the Berlin crisis of the late 1950s, the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, a border war between the Soviet Union and China in 1969, the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, and a war between India and Pakistan in 1999.

He also noted that Mr. Trump had leveled similar threats against Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, after his armed forces conducted a series of long-range missile tests. In his first year in office, 2017, Mr. Trump threatened “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Mr. Putin’s outburst reminded many nuclear experts of one of Mr. Trump’s tweets, in which he noted: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

Mr. Trump later insisted that the threat was calculated, and that it had brought Mr. Kim to the negotiating table for a series of three high-profile meetings between the two leaders. But the talks collapsed, and Mr. Kim’s nuclear stockpile is now significantly larger, by most unclassified estimates, than it was before Mr. Trump issued the threat.

“Nuclear-armed states can’t fight nuclear wars because it would risk their extinction, but they can and do threaten it,” Dr. Kroenig noted on Sunday. “They play games of nuclear chicken, of raising the risk of war in hopes that the other side will back down and say, ‘Geez, this isn’t worth fighting a nuclear war over.’”

Mr. Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists said the threats could be empty unless matched with evidence that nuclear weapons are being removed from storage and prepared for action.

“Unless we see that kind of thing,” Mr. Kristensen said, “it’s rhetoric — it’s madman brinkmanship.”

Putin Declares a Nuclear Alert, and Biden Seeks De-escalation - The New York Times

Opinion | How the American Right Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Russia - The New York Times

How the American Right Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Russia

Donald Trump meeting with Vladimir Putin in 2017.
Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

By Emily Tamkin

"Ms. Tamkin is the U.S. senior editor at The New Statesman and author of “The Influence of Soros.”

Last week, before Russian threats toward Ukrainian borders turned into an all-out invasion, one part of the American media landscape questioned why we weren’t supporting the invaders.

“Hating [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has become the central purpose of America’s foreign policy. It’s the main thing that we talk about,” the Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson said on Tuesday. “It might be worth asking yourself, since it is getting pretty serious: What is this really about? Why do I hate Putin so much? Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him?”

Interviewed on “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” on Tuesday, former President Donald Trump described Mr. Putin as “smart” and “savvy.” Then on Wednesday night, as reports of Russian explosions across Ukraine rolled in, Mr. Trump repeated his admiration for the Russian leader. J.D. Vance, a Republican candidate for Senate in Ohio, said during a Feb. 19 podcast interview with Steve Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former White House chief strategist, “We did not serve in the Marine Corps to go and fight Vladimir Putin because he didn’t believe in transgender rights, which is what the U.S. State Department is saying is a major problem with Russia.” Mr. Bannon, for his part, hailed Mr. Putin as “anti-woke” hours before Russia’s assault on Ukraine.

The American political right was long associated with Cold War hawkishness. But in recent years the trend has shifted toward fawning praise for autocrats, even those leading America’s traditional adversaries, as well as projecting our own culture wars overseas. Where once Russia and other autocracies were seen as anti-democratic, they have now become symbols of U.S. conservatism —  a mirror for the right-wing worldview. 

Supporting Mr. Putin, as well as other authoritarian leaders, is yet another way in which the political right is weaponizing culture wars to further divide Americans.

Part of this new paradigm is that foreign policy is now a partisan matter. In 2016,Prime Minister Viktor Orb├ín of Hungary offered an endorsement of then-candidate Donald Trump, admiration that was later returned. Mr. Putin’s Russia reportedly meddled in the American election in 2016, and the Russian president has admitted that he wanted Mr. Trump to win. Those amicable relationships trickled down to the Republican voting population, which shifted its views on Mr. Putin’s favorability, which soared from a mere 10 percent in July 2014 to 37 percent in December 2016. A Yahoo News/YouGov poll from January of this year found that 62 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents consider Vladimir Putin a stronger leader than Joe Biden.

“Strong” may be the key word here. In this construction, a strong leader is apparently one who cracks down on opposition, cultural and political, and does not concede. This idea then dovetails with right-wing ideas that liberal elites are actively corroding deeply held traditional values — including traditional gender roles. For those who spend a fair amount of airtime worrying about the emasculation of men, the kind of strength portrayed by Mr. Putin — who on Monday convened his top security officials and demanded they publicly stand and support him — is perhaps appealing.

Many of the admirers of the world’s strongmen on the American right appear to believe that the countries each of these men lead are beacons of whiteness, Christianity and conservative values. On Wednesday, conservative commentator Rod Dreher wrote, “I adamantly oppose risking the lives of boys from Louisiana and Alabama to make the Donbass safe for genderqueers and migrants.”

These comments, from the right, aren’t exactly advancing a new position. In 2018, the political commentator Pat Buchanan said that Mr. Putin and the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko were “standing up for traditional values against Western cultural elites.” He considered the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs to have told a “moral truth” in asserting that same-sex relationships were “fake.” But those traditional values do not include the freedom to political opposition. According to Viasna Human Rights Center, an organization dedicated to keeping track of Belarusian abuses, there are over 1,000 political prisoners in Belarus, many of whom were arrested for peaceful assembly, protesting or daring to engage in political activities.

Russia is neither all white nor all Christian — it is a country that encompasses several regions, religions and ethnicities. Still, it is often perceived as white. The white nationalist Richard Spencer has referred to Russia as “the sole white power in the world.” Matthew Heimbach, a founder of the Traditionalist Worker Party who was involved in the 2017 Unite the Right rally, has expressed admiration for Mr. Putin and ultranationalist European political leaders. “Russia is our biggest inspiration,” Mr. Heimbach told The Times in 2016. “I see President Putin as the leader of the free world.” As The Times reported at the time, this construction of Mr. Putin as a beacon of far-right values began with the ultra-far-right nationalists in Europe and later spread to the United States.

But, as the Washington Post opinion writer Christian Caryl wrote in 2018, just as the halcyon image American Communists had of Stalinist Russia in the early 20th century belied the truth of a brutal regime, the Russia celebrated today by conservatives is also, in some ways, a fiction. 

In any event, Mr. Putin is not waging a culture war. He is waging real, actual war, in which real, actual lives are already being lost.

But then, why would that matter? The Russia, Ukraine, Hungary and Belarus of conservative pundits’ imaginations are just that: imaginings. Avatars. Projections of themselves. The Russians and Ukrainians who are living — and dying — do not factor into the picture.

Emily Tamkin is the U.S. senior editor at The New Statesman and author of “The Influence of Soros” and the forthcoming “Bad Jews.”

Opinion | How the American Right Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Russia - The New York Times

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Covid County Checker From CDC Under New Guidelines Issued February 24th 2022

South Korea records its deadliest day of the pandemic.

South Korea records its deadliest day of the pandemic.

Daily Covid Briefing

Follow the latest news on and .

People waiting in line at a coronavirus testing site in Seoul on Saturday.
Ryu Hyung-Seok/Yonhap, via Associated Press

“South Korea faced its deadliest day yet of the pandemic, reporting 112 deaths in a 24-hour period, as the nation battles a coronavirus surge fueled by the Omicron variant. Health authorities reported that there were 643 patients hospitalized in severe or critical condition on Saturday, up from 408 patients a week earlier.

The surge in South Korea, currently one of the worst in the world, intensified over the last week, reaching a record of 171,452 cases in a single day on Wednesday. Since then, case numbers have remained at a high level, with the government reporting 166,207 cases on Saturday. South Korea, a nation of about 50 million people, is now reporting more cases each day than the United States, a once unimaginable development.

Despite having 86 percent of its people fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data, South Korea has recorded a 201 percent increase in the average of daily cases over the past two weeks.

Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.

According to a senior health official, Lee Ki-il, who spoke at a briefing on Friday, the government has plans to secure additional hospital beds in March. He added that the government and the medical community were doing their best to “provide no inconveniences to the public.” Mr. Lee said that the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency was prepared to take in and treat up to 2,000 patients with severe cases of Covid-19.

The government has responded to the surge by focusing on the detection of the virus in high-risk groups — those in their 60s and older, as well as people with pre-existing medical conditions — and treating only the most critical cases. The majority of people who test positive are being asked to simply look after themselves at home.

That is part of the government’s new approach of learning to live with the virus. Starting in March, those who live with people who have tested positive will no longer be required to quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status. Previously, unvaccinated people were required to quarantine for seven days if someone in their household tested positive.

Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

A caravan of truckers that left California for Washington, D.C., on Friday to protest coronavirus mandates arrived in Las Vegas early Saturday with only five trucks in its ranks, the organizers said, prompting them to scrap the convoy and direct members to merge with other anti-mandate groups heading to the capital.

The caravan, named Freedom Convoy USA 2022, was one of several in the United States, modeled after the Canadian protests, that drove off this weektoward Washington to demand, among other things, an end to the pandemic national emergency that began in March 2020, and an end to government rules requiring masks and vaccinations.

According to its Facebook page, the Freedom Convoy’s route started in Los Angeles on Friday and was scheduled to make stops in Salt Lake City, Denver and other major cities before arriving in Washington on March 1 in time for President Biden’s State of the Union address. But it appeared that the group couldn’t hold on to its supporters for long.

“There are two other convoys that have massive turnouts, and are in progress to the D.C. area as we speak,” the organizers wrote on Facebook early Saturday, referring to two groups called the People’s Convoy and the Texas Convoy.

“We are making the decision to send any truckers planned to meet at our routes to start heading to D.C. for the event on the National Mall, or to join the convoys named above as they are about to merge into one,” the organizers wrote.

Thomas Peter/Reuters

Scientists released a pair of extensive studies that point to a market in Wuhan, China, as the origin of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Analyzing data from a variety of sources, they concluded that the coronavirus was very likely present in live mammals sold in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in late 2019 and suggested that the virus twice spilled over into people working or shopping there. They said they found no support for an alternate theory that the coronavirus escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan.

“When you look at all of the evidence together, it’s an extraordinarily clear picture that the pandemic started at the Huanan market,” said Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona and a co-author of both studies.

The two reports, released Saturday, have not yet been published in a scientific journal that would require undergoing peer review.

Together, they represent a significant salvo in the debate over the beginnings of a pandemic that has killed some 6 million people globally and sickened more than 400 million. The question of whether the coronavirus outbreak began with a spillover from wildlife sold at the market, a leak from a Wuhan virology lab or some other way has given rise to pitched geopolitical battles and debates over how best to stop the next pandemic.

Nati Harnik/Associated Press

Berkshire Hathaway will hold its annual shareholders meeting in person this April, after having staged the event virtually since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic — but those attending will be required to show proof of a coronavirus vaccination, the company said.

The annual meeting, long known as “Woodstock for Capitalists,” has usually drawn tens of thousands of Berkshire shareholders to Omaha for the chance to hear directly from Warren E. Buffett, the company’s billionaire chief executive, for hours.

“As part of our commitment to the health and safety of our shareholders, proof of Covid-19 vaccination will be required to attend the 2022 annual meeting and the Berkshire Bazaar of Bargains,” the company said, adding that it had partnered with CLEAR Health Pass “to help make your entry to the annual meeting seamless.”

“For international attendees and shareholders who do not use the CLEAR app, we will have marked doors for you to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination and proper identification,” the company said. “Digital or hard copy of your Covid-19 vaccination record will be required.”

The requirement was tucked into Berkshire’s annual report to shareholders released on Saturday, which revealed a nearly $90 billion in profit for 2021 and which included a letter from Mr. Buffett stressing the influential role that the company played in the United States economy.

Karsten Moran for The New York Times

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a straightforward online tool that can help people see whether their area is at high, medium or low community risk for the coronavirus, the deciding factor in the new guidelines the agency released on Friday.

With the huge wave of Omicron-driven cases, hospitalizations and deaths receding across the United States, the new C.D.C. guidance is aimed at helping more communities get back to a semblance of normality, by gauging the need for pandemic restrictions like mask wearing and social distancing by county.

The guidance is not binding, so local mask requirements may still apply, and the federal mask requirement on mass transit and air travel remains in place until at least March 18. However, some states had few restrictions to begin with, and many state and local governments had already eased many restrictions, including on masks. The C.D.C.’s move is likely to prompt more such moves.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C.’s director, warned Americans not to let down their guard entirely. “We want to give people a break from things like masking when our levels are low, and then have the ability to reach for them again should things get worse in the future,” she said as she announced the new guidance on Friday. “We need to be prepared, and we need to be ready for whatever comes next.”

Under the agency’s previous criteria, close to 95 percent of U.S. counties were considered high risk. Using the new criteria — new Covid-related hospital admissions, the percentage of hospital beds occupied by Covid patients and new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people — less than 30 percent of the population is in high-risk areas.

Kin Cheung/Associated Press

HONG KONG — The authorities in Hong Kong said they would allow some children testing positive for the coronavirus to remain at home, rather than be separated from their parents and hospitalized, after a public outcry from families across the city.

Some Hong Kong families had despaired over strict Covid-19 rules that required even toddlers to be taken away from their parents and isolated, prompting some families to leave the city.

Hong Kong long had an enviable record in suppressing the coronavirus with a “dynamic zero” Covid policy, in line with that on mainland China. But with an Omicron wave overwhelming the city, the steps that saved lives are now making life unbearable for many of its 7.4 million people. The city announced a record 10,000 daily cases on Friday, with some experts predicting 180,000 cases per day in March.

Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.

The Hospital Authority in Hong Kong said late on Friday that not all children who test positive for the virus would be required to go to the hospital.

Watchara Phomicinda/The Orange County Register, via Associated Press

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California lifted many executive orders related to the pandemic on Friday, as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations there continue to drop, but he maintained California’s state of emergency.

Under the governor’s action, 19 of the remaining provisions will be terminated immediately, with an additional 18 to be lifted at the end of March and 15 to expire at the end of June. 

The state has dropped numerous executive orders since last summer. With the latest rollbacks, just 5 percent of the state’s pandemic-related executive orders will remain in place, including those that maintain the state’s testing and vaccination programs and that protect hospital and health center capacity, such as by allowing for expanded telehealth services. Other remaining provisions maintain some Covid workplace safety standards.

“As we move the state’s recovery forward, we’ll continue to focus on scaling back provisions while maintaining essential testing, vaccination and health care system supports that ensure California has the needed tools and flexibility to strategically adapt our response for what lies ahead,” Mr. Newsom said in a statement.

The order does not lift California’s state of emergency despite recent calls to do so by Republican legislators. In a resolution to end the state of emergency that senators will debate in a hearing next month, legislators wrote that “an open-ended state of emergency, with boundless powers vested in a chief executive, is incompatible with democratic government.”

Kenny Holston for The New York Times

Kerry Kennedy remembers how much she admired her older brother Robert as they grew up in Hickory Hill, the family estate in McLean, Va. She still talks about how he brought her along to ford streams, crawl through drainpipes and catch frogs and snakes, ignoring his friends who did not want a 6-year-old girl tagging behind on their outdoor adventures.

“He was an extraordinary older brother,” she said the other day. “He’s brilliant, he’s well read, he cares deeply, he is extremely charismatic. He has as a childlike buoyancy and lightness to him. He’s a beautiful person in a million different ways.

“And then he has this.”

Nearly 60 years after Bobby brought his sister along for the excursions into the woods, the son and namesake of Robert F. Kennedy, the New York senator, attorney general and Democratic presidential candidate assassinated on June 5, 1968, has become an unimaginably polarizing figure in this tight-knit political family.

Once a top environmental lawyer who led the charge to clean up the Hudson River in New York, the third eldest child of Robert and Ethel Kennedy has emerged as a leading voice in the campaign to discredit coronavirus vaccines and other measures being advanced by the Biden White House to battle a pandemic that was, near the end of February, killing close to 1,900 people a day.

Stephanie Keith for The New York Times

The New York City Department of Education released school-level vaccination rates for the first time on Friday, showing gaping disparities between rich and poor neighborhoods.

Citywide, more than half of public school students are fully vaccinated, according to the data, and 59 percent of students ages 5 and up have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. But the data shows that the doses have been distributed very unequally.

In District 2 — which covers some of the wealthiest parts of Manhattan, including the Upper East Side and TriBeCa — 80 percent of students have received at least one dose, the highest rate in New York.

But in District 23 in Brooklyn, only 38 percent of students can say the same. That district, which includes Brownsville and part of East New York, is one of the poorest in the city and has the lowest vaccination rate in the school system.

Nationally, 26 percent of children ages 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated, as are 57 percent of people ages 12 to 17, according to a New York Times database. Most children became eligible for vaccinations late last year, but no vaccine has yet been authorized for those younger than 5.

Kenny Holston for The New York Times

More than half of people who took a rapid antigen test five to nine days after first testing positive for the coronavirus or after developing Covid-19 symptoms tested positive on the antigen test, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The finding raises more concerns about the agency’s revised isolation guidelines, which say that many people with Covid can end their isolation periods after five days, without a negative coronavirus test, if they wear masks and take other precautions for another five days.

A C.D.C. scientist who was an author of the study said that he did not believe the agency’s isolation guidelines needed to change. But the results suggest that many people with the virus may still be infectious during this period, scientists said.

The study “demonstrates what a lot of people have suspected: that five days is insufficient for a substantial number of people,” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan, said in an email. “The bottom line,” she added, “is that this absolutely should lead to a change in isolation guidance.”

The research was conducted after Omicron became the dominant variant in the United States and as cases were surging nationwide. Cases have since fallen precipitously, reducing the risk of infection and the number of Americans who are in isolation.

Amir Hamja for The New York Times

Americans have collectively saved trillions of dollars since the pandemic began. But they aren’t exactly feeling flush with cash — and now there are signs that the pandemic-era savings boom may be coming to an end.

Savings soared during the first year of the pandemic as the federal government handed out hundreds of billions of dollars in unemployment benefits, economic impact payments and other forms of aid, and as households spent less on vacations, concerts and other in-person activities. The saving rate — the share of after-tax income that is invested or saved, rather than spent — topped 33 percent in April 2020 and remained elevated through late last year.

But the saving rate fell in the second half of 2021, returning roughly to its prepandemic level of about 7 percent last fall. In January, Americans saved just 6.4 percent of their after-tax income, the lowest monthly saving rate since 2013, as millions of employees lost hours because of the latest coronavirus wave, and this time the government did not step in to provide aid.

Still, Americans in the aggregate have roughly $2.7 trillion in “excess savings” accumulated since the pandemic began, by some estimates.

In a survey conducted this month for The New York Times by the online research firm Momentive, however, only 16 percent of respondents said they had more in savings than before the pandemic, and 50 percent said they had less. Among lower-income households, just 9 percent said they had more in savings, and 64 percent said they had less.“

Video appears to show Russian vehicles destroyed after battle

Calls to expel Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene after speech at white nationalist event | CPAC | The Guardian

Calls to expel Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene after speech at white nationalist event

"Republican leadership condemned for failing to discipline Georgia congresswoman for speaking at far-right summit

Marjorie Taylor Greene at CPAC, the conference summit taking place at the same time in Orlando.
Marjorie Taylor Greene at CPAC, the conference summit taking place at the same time in Orlando.Photograph: Marco Bello/Reuters

Republican leaders are facing fresh demands to expel the Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, after she spoke at a conference of white nationalists and sympathisers with Vladimir Putin.

The event in Orlando, Florida, on Friday night was organised by the far-right extremist Nick Fuentes, who told attendees: “Now they’re going on about Russia and Vladimir Putin is Hitler – they say that’s not a good thing.”

He burst into laughter as he added: “I shouldn’t have said that!”

Fuentes, recently subpoenaed for his involvement in the January 6 insurrection, proudly introduced Taylor Greene at the third annual America First Political Action Conference, or AFPAC.

The Georgia congresswoman told the gathering they were “canceled Americans” who had a responsibility to “stop the Democrats who are the communist party of the United States of America”, HuffPost reported.

Her patronage of AFPAC, where the Arizona congressman Paul Gosar also appeared via pre-recorded video, provoked sharp condemnation of party leaders for failing to discipline her.

Liz Cheney, a member of the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot, tweeted: “As Rep[resentative] Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rep[resentative] Paul Gosar speak at this white supremacist, antisemitic, pro-Putin event, silence by Republican party leaders is deafening and enabling.

“All Americans should renounce this garbage and reject the Putin wing of the GOP now.”

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) pointed out that Kevin McCarthy, the Republican minority leader in the House, has consistently failed to take action against Greene.

Ammar Moussa, a spokesperson for the DNC, said: “In any other world, Greene speaking at a white supremacist conference where attendees have defended Vladimir Putin and praised Adolf Hitler would warrant expulsion from the caucus, to say nothing of her advocacy for violence and consistent antisemitism is disgusting.

“Quite simply, the longer Kevin McCarthy gives Marjorie Taylor Greene an unfettered platform and promises to elevate her, the more complicit he is.”

On Saturday, Greene sought to defend her appearance at AFPAC. She told CBS News: “I went to talk to them about America First policies and I talked to them about what’s important for our country going forward.

“Now, in regards to Russia, Putin is a murderer and he should never have invaded Ukraine. What he is doing is completely wrong. I stand with our Nato member allies and I’m completely against this war. Everything that he’s doing is wrong. He’s killing people over and over so I’m staunchly against it and I’m staunchly against Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine.”

Asked if she endorses Fuentes’s views, Taylor Greene claimed: “I don’t know what his views are.”

Told that he is a white nationalist, she said: “I do not endorse those views.”

Greene gave the interview on the sidelines of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a separate event in Orlando. She appeared on a panel hours before former president Donald Trump was due to speak.

The congresswoman attacked Twitter for banning her and promoted Trump’s new social media site, Truth Social. She taunted Hillary Clinton, the former Democratic presidential nominee, and Anthony Fauci, infectious diseases expert and chief medical adviser to Joe Biden.

“We have to hold Democrats accountable, everybody. Right? Fire Fauci! We’ve got to investigate Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Lock her up! Lock them all up!”

With that she laughed, as the audience burst into applause.

Greene has a history of antisemitic and incendiary comments that include blaming California wildfires on “Jewish space lasers”, suggesting Muslims do not belong in government and warning that “gazpacho police” – presumably she meant Gestapo – patrol the US Capitol.

But the timing of her AFPAC speech could hardly have been more provocative.

Fred Wellman, a political consultant and Iraq war veteran, commented on Twitter:“This is where Marjorie Taylor Greene spent her evening. Laughing about comparisons to Hitler being bad. This is who she is. You know they burned crosses in Martin Luther King’s yard just 62 years ago. It’s time for Georgia to put this trash out forever.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition joined the condemnation. 

“It is appalling and outrageous that a member of Congress would share a platform with an individual who has actively spread antisemitic bile, mocked the Holocaust and promoted dangerous anti-Israel conspiracy theories,” the group said in a statement. 

“This has absolutely no place in the Republican Party.”

Calls to expel Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene after speech at white nationalist event | CPAC | The Guardian