Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Will a surgeon general's warning help matters?

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup is a long-running series published every morning that collects essential political discussion and analysis around the internet. We begin with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murphy writing for The New York Times about the need for a warning label on social media platforms. The mental health crisis among young people is an emergency — and social media has emerged as an important contributor. Adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on social media face double the risk of anxiety and depression symptoms, and the average daily use in this age group, as of the summer of 2023, was 4.8 hours. Additionally, nearly half of adolescents say social media makes them feel worse about their bodies. It is time to require a surgeon general’s warning label on social media platforms, stating that social media is associated with significant mental health harms for adolescents. A surgeon general’s warning label, which requires congressional action, would regularly remind parents and adolescents that social media has not been proved safe. Evidence from tobacco studies show that warning labels can increase awareness and change behavior. When asked if a warning from the surgeon general would prompt them to limit or monitor their children’s social media use, 76 percent of people in one recent survey of Latino parents said yes. To be clear, a warning label would not, on its own, make social media safe for young people. The advisory I issued a year ago about social media and young people’s mental health included specific recommendations for policymakers, platforms and the public to make social media safer for kids. Such measures, which already have strong bipartisan support, remain the priority. Taylor Telford, Emmanuel Felton, and Emily Giskin of The Washington Post report that in spite of the conservative media's onslaught against programs for diversity, equity, and inclusion, polling shows DEI programs are quite popular with Americans. Dozens of companies, including giants like Meta and Pfizer, are fighting lawsuits over their corporate diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, programs, many of them brought by conservative activists. Republican-led state legislatures across the country are considering scores of anti-DEI bills, and such efforts are poised to become a wedge issue in this year’s presidential election. Despite those conservative attacks, most Americans approve of companies taking steps to address the historic inequalities in their ranks, according to a poll from The Washington Post and Ipsos. Roughly 6 in 10 Americans said that diversity, equity and inclusion programs are “a good thing” — and support was even higher for specific programs such as internships for underrepresented groups and anti-bias trainings. The level of support differed among racial groups, and one effort was universally unpopular: financial incentives for managers who achieve diversity goals. The poll of 2,274 Americans, including 1,371 workers, highlights the disparity between the generally positive public perception of corporate DEI programs and their status as a political target at a moment when companies are quietly reassessing their policies and shifting their approaches to DEI with a focus on limiting legal risk. For Timothy Snyder and his ”Thinking About” Substack, the search for “vice,” as in the shoe salesman’s search for a vice president, is quite literal. Usually, vice-presidential candidates are selected for virtues.  They are expected to bring new voters in November, to complement the presidential candidate, and to be qualified to be president in case of emergency.   Donald Trump is searching, quite literally, for vice. [...] The vice-presidential candidate cannot be seen to complement Donald Trump, since as a Leader he cannot be seen to have any shortcomings or flaws.  His is a specific kind of fascism, though, without any plan beyond retribution.  Trump's backers at home and abroad understand that the rage will provide cover to dismantle the operations of the American government -- so that oligarchs need not pay taxes, for example, or so that Russians can commit atrocities in Ukraine. And so those who wish to join the Republican ticket as the vice-presidential nominee must prove not their worth but their worthlessness.  They must demonstrate that they do not challenge Trump in any way, and that they would not, should they become president, provide any resistance to those who would like to see American government fail.  They must engage, in other words, in a politics of impotence, a determined effort to show that they lack determination. Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times lists the reasons why the state of Israel is now in existential danger. Israel is up against a regional superpower, Iran, that has managed to put Israel into a vice grip, using its allies and proxies: Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and Shiite militias in Iraq. Right now, Israel has no military or diplom

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Will a surgeon general's warning help matters?

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup is a long-running series published every morning that collects essential political discussion and analysis around the internet.

We begin with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murphy writing for The New York Times about the need for a warning label on social media platforms.

The mental health crisis among young people is an emergency — and social media has emerged as an important contributor. Adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on social media face double the risk of anxiety and depression symptoms, and the average daily use in this age group, as of the summer of 2023, was 4.8 hours. Additionally, nearly half of adolescents say social media makes them feel worse about their bodies.

It is time to require a surgeon general’s warning label on social media platforms, stating that social media is associated with significant mental health harms for adolescents. A surgeon general’s warning label, which requires congressional action, would regularly remind parents and adolescents that social media has not been proved safe. Evidence from tobacco studies show that warning labels can increase awareness and change behavior. When asked if a warning from the surgeon general would prompt them to limit or monitor their children’s social media use, 76 percent of people in one recent survey of Latino parents said yes.

To be clear, a warning label would not, on its own, make social media safe for young people. The advisory I issued a year ago about social media and young people’s mental health included specific recommendations for policymakers, platforms and the public to make social media safer for kids. Such measures, which already have strong bipartisan support, remain the priority.

Taylor Telford, Emmanuel Felton, and Emily Giskin of The Washington Post report that in spite of the conservative media's onslaught against programs for diversity, equity, and inclusion, polling shows DEI programs are quite popular with Americans.

Dozens of companies, including giants like Meta and Pfizer, are fighting lawsuits over their corporate diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, programs, many of them brought by conservative activists. Republican-led state legislatures across the country are considering scores of anti-DEI bills, and such efforts are poised to become a wedge issue in this year’s presidential election.

Despite those conservative attacks, most Americans approve of companies taking steps to address the historic inequalities in their ranks, according to a poll from The Washington Post and Ipsos. Roughly 6 in 10 Americans said that diversity, equity and inclusion programs are “a good thing” — and support was even higher for specific programs such as internships for underrepresented groups and anti-bias trainings. The level of support differed among racial groups, and one effort was universally unpopular: financial incentives for managers who achieve diversity goals.

The poll of 2,274 Americans, including 1,371 workers, highlights the disparity between the generally positive public perception of corporate DEI programs and their status as a political target at a moment when companies are quietly reassessing their policies and shifting their approaches to DEI with a focus on limiting legal risk.

For Timothy Snyder and his ”Thinking About” Substack, the search for “vice,” as in the shoe salesman’s search for a vice president, is quite literal.

Usually, vice-presidential candidates are selected for virtues.  They are expected to bring new voters in November, to complement the presidential candidate, and to be qualified to be president in case of emergency.  

Donald Trump is searching, quite literally, for vice. [...]

The vice-presidential candidate cannot be seen to complement Donald Trump, since as a Leader he cannot be seen to have any shortcomings or flaws.  His is a specific kind of fascism, though, without any plan beyond retribution.  Trump's backers at home and abroad understand that the rage will provide cover to dismantle the operations of the American government -- so that oligarchs need not pay taxes, for example, or so that Russians can commit atrocities in Ukraine.

And so those who wish to join the Republican ticket as the vice-presidential nominee must prove not their worth but their worthlessness.  They must demonstrate that they do not challenge Trump in any way, and that they would not, should they become president, provide any resistance to those who would like to see American government fail.  They must engage, in other words, in a politics of impotence, a determined effort to show that they lack determination.

Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times lists the reasons why the state of Israel is now in existential danger.

Israel is up against a regional superpower, Iran, that has managed to put Israel into a vice grip, using its allies and proxies: Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and Shiite militias in Iraq. Right now, Israel has no military or diplomatic answer. Worse, it faces the prospect of a war on three fronts — Gaza, Lebanon and the West Bank — but with a dangerous new twist: Hezbollah in Lebanon, unlike Hamas, is armed with precision missiles that could destroy vast swaths of Israel’s infrastructure, from its airports to its seaports to its university campuses to its military bases to its power plants.

But Israel is led by a prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has to stay in power to avoid potentially being sent to prison on corruption charges. To do so, he sold his soul to form a government with far-right Jewish extremists who insist that Israel must fight in Gaza until it has killed every last Hamasnik — “total victory” — and who reject any partnership with the Palestinian Authority (which has accepted the Oslo peace accords) in governing a post-Hamas Gaza, because they want Israeli control over all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, including Gaza. [...]

No friend of Israel should participate in this circus. Israel needs a pragmatic centrist government that can lead it out of this multifaceted crisis — and seize the offer of normalization with Saudi Arabia that Biden has been able to engineer. This can come about only by removing Netanyahu through a new election — as the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, bravely called for in March. Israel does not need a U.S.-sponsored booze party for its drunken driver.

Clea Caulcutt of Politico Europe says that the top advisers for French President Emmanuel Macron are its disarray over the European elections and Macron’s call for a snap election slated for this month.

Humiliated by the far-right National Rally in the EU election, Macron delivered a bombshell announcement June 9 that he would try to hold back the advances of the right with a national election. Since then, Macron’s top team has been conspicuous for their doubts, grumbling and low spirits.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire — a pillar of Macron’s Renaissance liberal party — won the award for most apocalyptic diagnosis on a campaign stop in northern France after Le Figaro quoted him bemoaning that “the country is going to the dogs.”

Such bilious despair poses a problem for France’s future. One of the biggest questions facing French politics, after all, is who will fill the massive vacuum in the political center when Macron’s presidency ends in 2027.

Those scanning the top table for a liberal savior will be disappointed. Macron’s centrist coalition risks being wiped out in a vote spanning two rounds — on June 30 and July 7 — by the left as well as by the far right. The president’s allies, meanwhile, appear to be seeking an exit strategy rather than glory in a famous last stand.

Finally, Keith Mines and Kirk Randolph of Just Security say that now that a transitional Council and a new prime minister is in place in Haiti, stabilization remains a long way off.

Gangs have taken control of 80 percent of Port-au-Prince and are increasingly pushing into areas outside the capital. The fact that there was no security force to call on to respond to the attack and no one readily available to even recover the bodies was no surprise to Haitians. It’s not an expectation they would have in a country where gangs killed or injured more than 4,700 people in 2023 and more than 600,000 have been displaced from their homes. [...]

One of the first tasks of the newly formed Transitional Council and newly appointed Prime Minister Garry Conille and his Cabinet will be to develop a comprehensive counter-gang strategy that addresses the immediate requirements for restoring security, while directing resources and attention to the root causes of gang proliferation and violence. The development of a strategy will naturally fall to a National Security Council of Haitian officials and experts who are supported and advised by international experts, academics, and practitioners who can bring in other successful cases of countering violent non-state actors. The advice of local communities should be a part of any planning, as they bear the brunt of gang depredations, and no solution can be effective without their advice and buy in.

The first element in such a plan will be to immediately begin shifting the balance of force away from the gangs and towards the legitimate security forces. The arrival of the Kenyan-led Multinational Security Support Mission (MSS) will be the first step in this shift, as they will have greater capacity and mobility than the Haitian National Police (HNP) that they ultimately will be supporting. But they also will arrive with real deficits – not speaking the language or knowing the local communities, to start. And the size of the force, when compared with the task at hand, is small. The MSS will need to partner from the start with the current HNP, as the international community supports a surge of new Haitian security forces who can not only confront gangs but begin to hold and control territory.  And the international force will need to use a host of enablers – drones, air support, and superior intelligence to guide the actions of rapid reaction forces supporting fixed security units.

Have the best possible day everyone!