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TL(PM) DIGEST: The Biden-Modi bromance delivers the goods
Plus NATO's largest-ever air exercises draw to a close, watch out for deadly fungi, and Latinos now favor "neither" party on many issues
1. U.S. and India announce a slew of partnerships during Modi’s visit
What happened? Coinciding with Prime Minister Modi’s state visit to Washington, the White House announced a wide range of bilateral cooperation initiatives between the United States and India. These partnerships range from space exploration—India will sign the Artemis Accords and its national space agency will work with NASA launch astronauts to the International Space Station next year—and critical minerals to semiconductor and military jet engine manufacturing to new consulates and increased educational exchanges.
Why does it matter? This announcement puts meat on the bones of the budding strategic partnership between the United States and India as both countries cast wary eyes toward Beijing. American Reaper drones, for instance, will help India patrol and monitor its contested and mountainous northern border with China.
TLP’s take: These policies are all to the good, and reflect India’s increased strategic importance in the world as it is today. But closer bilateral ties with India don’t require the United States to embrace as illiberal a leader as Modi as closely and strongly as the Biden administration and Congress have during this visit— geopolitics should simply be left to take their natural course instead.
2. NATO’s biggest ever air exercises end today
What happened? NATO wraps up the largest air exercises in its history today, a week-long Germany-based training program that incorporated some 250 jets and 10,000 military personnel from 25 members of the trans-Atlantic alliance. The exercises were planned well before Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Why does it matter? These exercises prove useful both in building relationships between NATO militaries and exposing potential problems with how those militaries fight—such as the ability to talk to one another over secure communications networks. As the head of the German air force put it:
Today, it probably hardly worked; tomorrow, partially; the day after, it’s already OK… If you simulate it, it will always work. You have to do it in life, to see, “OK, that was the mistake, we took care of it.”
TLP’s take: These types of exercises are the glue that hold America’s alliances together—they bring together American and allied service-members to work out real-world problems that can’t be solved on paper. The Pentagon needs to make sure they remain a priority.
3. Uh oh, maybe ‘The Last of Us’ was on to something
What happened? The Wall Street Journal reports on increasingly fatal threats from fungal infections—conditions often misdiagnosed by doctors.
Why does it matter? Dangerous fungi are all around us—in our bodies and on our skin and in the air, soil, and water. Most people can resist them, but an “estimated 10 million people in the U.S.” can’t handle “yeasts and molds [that] invade the bloodstream, lungs, brain and other organs.” As the WSJ reports, more patients than ever are at risk of getting fungal infections that doctors sometimes treat as bacterial infections:
Severe fungal disease used to be a freak occurrence. Now it is a threat to millions of vulnerable Americans, and treatments have been losing efficacy as fungal pathogens develop resistance to standard drugs.
Medical experts say one reason for the surge is that more people have compromised immune systems, including cancer patients and those taking medicines after organ transplants. Compounding the problem, research shows, is that rising temperatures appear to have expanded the geographical range of some deadly fungal pathogens, and possibly made them better adapted to human hosts.
“It’s going to get worse,” said Dr. Tom Chiller, head of the fungal-disease branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
TLP’s take: We’ll leave it to the infectious disease specialists to figure out how best to treat and prevent toxic fungal infections. But public health institutions and governments should probably consider some basic protocols and warnings for patients and doctors to better detect these diseases and offer proper treatment in a timely fashion to reduce avoidable deaths.
4. Pluralities of Latino voters believe neither party is good on many major issues
What happened? New polling from Axios/Ipsos among Latinos asked respondents to assess which political party is better on a range of issues. Democrats emerge slightly on top on abortion and climate—and Republicans on the economy—but “neither” party emerges on top in several other key areas.
Why does it matter? Democrats and Republicans are not meeting expectations for this important group of voters. For example, Latinos are more likely to say “neither” party is better on issues including immigration, caring about Latino and Hispanic Americans, crime and public safety, and managing the federal government’s debt.
TLP’s take: The Latino vote clearly is more fluid than activists in either party are willing to admit. Latinos are a diverse community with different values and perspectives, and consequently, many of these voters are not sold one way or another on either Democrats or Republicans. Whichever party figures out how best to represent these disparate voters—and meet their expectations on the economy, crime, and values—will hold future advantages in states where Latinos constitute important voting blocs.
Just one more thing…
No matter who wins, we lose: Twitter, Tesla, and SpaceX head honcho Elon Musk and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg have agreed to fight each other mano a mano in a literal cage match.