Today’s edition of quick hits:
* A bold and courageous move: “A veteran Russian diplomat to the U.N. Office at Geneva says he handed in his resignation before sending out a scathing letter to foreign colleagues inveighing against the ‘aggressive war unleashed’ by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. Boris Bondarev, 41, confirmed his resignation in a letter delivered Monday morning after a diplomatic official passed on his English-language statement to The Associated Press.”
* The White House has spent a good part of the day clarifying this: “President Joe Biden said Monday that the United States would be willing to intervene militarily if China were to invade the self-governing island of Taiwan, again sowing confusion over American policy in the region.”
* Speaking of Asia: “President Joe Biden faced a dilemma on trade in Asia: He couldn’t just rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership that his predecessor had pulled the U.S. out of in 2017. Many related trade deals, regardless of their content, had become politically toxic for U.S. voters, who associated them with job losses. So Biden came up with a replacement. During Biden’s visit to Tokyo, the U.S. on Monday announced the countries that are joining the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.”
* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a remote pitch at Davos: “Ukraine’s leader called for ‘maximum’ sanctions against Russia as he addressed corporate executives and government officials at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday. ‘This is really the moment when it’s decided whether brute force will rule the world,’ Zelenskyy said of Russia’s invasion of his country and the threat it poses to global security.”
* An ugly ruling: “Ruling against two Arizona death row inmates, the Supreme Court on Monday sharply cut back on prisoners’ ability to challenge their convictions in federal court by arguing that their lawyers had been ineffective in state court proceedings. The 6-to-3 decision split along ideological lines.”
* Some progress on the baby formula front: “A military plane carrying enough specialty infant formula for more than half a million baby bottles arrived Sunday in Indianapolis, the first of several flights expected from Europe aimed at relieving a shortage that has sent parents scrambling to find enough to feed their children.”
* Of course this was a ruling on Title 42 from a Trump-appointed judge: “A federal judge Friday blocked the Biden administration from ending a Trump-era policy that severely limits asylum seekers from entering the U.S. due to the pandemic.”
* Something to add to our collective list of anxieties: “President Joe Biden on Sunday said an outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox is a concern because ‘if it were to spread, it’s consequential.’ ... ‘They haven’t told me the level of exposure yet, but it is something that everybody should be concerned about,’ Biden told reporters before boarding Air Force One to fly from South Korea to Japan.”
* See? Conservative incumbents are capable of losing and accepting defeat: “Australia’s prime minister conceded defeat after an election Saturday that could deliver a minority government. Scott Morrison acted quickly despite millions of votes yet to be counted because an Australian prime minister must attend a Tokyo summit on Tuesday with U.S., Japanese and Indian leaders.”
* In Russia’s latest round of sanctions against Americans, the Kremlin included three U.S. senators who are no longer alive.
* After all that effort, they’re really going to let vaccinations derail their military careers? “Three cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy who have refused the COVID-19 vaccine will not be commissioned as military officers but will graduate with bachelor’s degrees, the academy said Saturday. Academy spokesman Dean Miller said that a fourth cadet who had refused the vaccine until about a week ago, decided to be vaccinated and will graduate and become an Air Force officer.”
See you tomorrow.