Poll: Six in ten US adults doubt mental capacity of president, disgraced former president

Source: SFGate

“A poll finds that a significant share of U.S. adults doubt the mental capabilities of 81-year-old President Joe Biden and 77-year-old Donald Trump, the former president and current Republican front-runner in what could be a rematch of the 2020 election. More than 6 in 10 (63%) say they’re not very or not at all confident in Biden’s mental capability to serve effectively as president, turning his coming State of the Union address into something of a real-time audition for a second term. A similar but slightly smaller share (57%) say that Trump lacks the memory and acuity for the job. The findings from a new survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research point to a tough presidential election in which issues such as age and mental competence could be more prevalent than in any other political contest in modern times.” (03/04/24)


Would Trump 2.0 be a hawk or a dove?

Source: Responsible Statecraft
by Connor Echols

“Foreign policy mandarins have spent years fighting over what to make of former President Donald Trump. At heart, is he a hawk or a dove? Does he hope to be a new Nixon, capable of seeking detente with enemies despite (or even because of) his mean streak? Or perhaps a new Reagan, focused on achieving ‘peace through strength?’ I might ask it a different way: Who cares? New political science research suggests that Trump’s personal views are not the most important part of the puzzle. In short, it’s the advisers, stupid.” (03/04/24)


Is Tehran Winning the Middle East? How Gaza Conflict Made Democracy’s Name Mud for Millions

Source: TomDispatch
by Juan Cole

“In the midst of Israel’s ongoing devastation of Gaza, one major piece of Middle Eastern news has yet to hit the headlines. In a face-off that, in a sense, has lasted since the pro-American Shah of Iran was overthrown by theocratic clerics in 1979, Iran finally seems to be besting the United States in a significant fashion across the region. … The well-heeled Iran War Lobby in Washington has, in fact, been stridently calling for nothing short of a U.S. invasion of that country, accusing Tehran of complicity in Hamas’s October 7th terrorist attack on Israel. No matter that the official Iranian press has vehemently denied the allegation, while American intelligence officials swiftly concluded that the attack on Israel had taken top Iranian leaders by surprise.” (03/04/24)


Google-backed Anthropic debuts its most powerful chatbot yet, as generative AI battle heats up

Source: CNBC

“Anthropic on Monday debuted Claude 3, a suite of artificial intelligence models that it says are its fastest and most powerful yet. The new tools are called Claude 3 Opus, Sonnet and Haiku. The company said the most capable of the new models, Claude 3 Opus, outperformed OpenAI’s GPT-4 and Google’s Gemini Ultra on industry benchmark tests, such as undergraduate level knowledge, graduate level reasoning and basic mathematics. This is the first time Anthropic has offered multimodal support. Users can upload photos, charts, documents and other types of unstructured data for analysis and answers. The other models, Sonnet and Haiku, are more compact and less expensive than Opus. … Multimodality, or adding options like photo and video capabilities to generative AI, whether uploading them yourself or creating them using an AI model, has quickly become one of the industry’s hottest use cases.” (03/04/24)


Conscious and Unconscionable: The Starving of Gaza

Source: CounterPunch
by Binoy Kampmark

“The starvation regime continues unabated as Israel continues its campaign in the Gaza Strip. One of the six provisional measures ordered by the International Court Justice entailed taking ‘immediate and effective measures’ to protect the Palestinian populace in the Gaza Strip from risk of genocide by ensuring the supply of humanitarian assistance and basic services. … A month has elapsed since the ICJ order, after which Israel was meant to report back on compliance. But, as Amnesty International reports, Israel continues ‘to disregard its obligation as the occupying power to ensure the basic needs of Palestinians in Gaza are met.'” (03/04/24)


Teixeira accepts 16-year prison sentence for exposing Ukraine war facts to public scrutiny

Source: New York Post

“The Massachusetts Air National Guard member who leaked troves of classified military documents and posted them online in a case considered one of the most serious US national security breaches in recent years agreed to accept a 16-year sentence on Monday. Jack Teixeira, who was 21 at the time of his arrest in April 2023, was accused of abusing his security clearance and leaking top-secret Pentagon documents and sharing them on the social media and gaming app Discord. The documents were then widely shared.” (03/04/24)


Israel’s Juristocracy

Source: Law & Liberty

“In early 2024 and at the height of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, the Israeli Supreme Court published the most important ruling in its history. By a narrow majority of 8 to 7, the Court struck down the constitutional amendment to ‘Basic Law: The Judiciary.’ This amendment did not apply the ‘unreasonableness’ doctrine to ministerial and government decisions and therefore allegedly violated Israel’s core democratic and Jewish values. This ruling represents a peak moment of judicial activism on a global scale. … in the wake of the events on October 7th, such a hyper-activist judicial ruling raises serious concerns regarding democratic accountability in a legal system in which the judiciary holds unprecedented powers.” (03/04/24)


Iran: Hard-liners dominate parliamentary vote that saw boycott calls and apparently low turnout

Source: ABC News

“Iranian hard-line politicians dominated the country’s vote for parliament, results released Monday showed, maintaining their hold on the legislature in a vote that saw calls for a boycott and an apparently low turnout. Authorities still have not released turnout figures for Friday’s vote, nor given any reason for the delay. Turnout is suspected to be low after polling stations in the capital, Tehran, saw few voters. It remains unclear whether turnout was depressed by voter apathy or an active desire to send a message to Iran’s theocracy, though some in the country pushed for a boycott, including imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi. The vote also was the first since the 2022 mass protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, killed after being arrested by police over allegedly not wearing her required hijab to the liking of authorities.” (03/04/24)