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Biden’s long foreign-policy record signals how he’ll reverse Trump, rebuild old alliances and lead the pandemic response

Biden’s long foreign-policy record signals how he’ll reverse Trump, rebuild old alliances and lead the pandemic response

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Biden goes way back with a number of world leaders, among them Chinese President Xi Jinping. Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Even without a flashy virtual Democratic National Convention to formally introduce his presidential campaign, Joe Biden would be well known worldwide. He was President Barack Obama’s second-in-command for eight years and sat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for decades, chairing it for several years.

Yet for all his foreign policy credentials, Biden’s international agenda remains somewhat opaque. How would a President Joe Biden face the disjointed and radically different world order left by his predecessor?

Here’s my projection, based on Biden’s long track track record in global politics and my many years of teaching, studying and practicing international diplomacy.

Joe Biden, internationalist

As vice president, Biden’s relationships with world leaders were based on personal chemistry and empathy, enriched by his often rambling anecdotes.

Dating back to the early years of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s tenure, for example, Biden took many walks and held private dinners in an effort to get Xi to open up. He identified the Chinese leader’s nationalistic and authoritarian instincts, which helped to shape Obama’s China policy.

But this is no longer the Obama era. If elected, Biden would need new approaches to demonstrate that the U.S. can be a responsible world power.

Biden’s campaign has over 2,000 foreign policy advisers divided into some 20 working groups, each focusing on major international issues such as arms control, the environment, intelligence and regions. Among those slated for high-level posts in his administration are former Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice and several other veteran diplomats.

While presidents don’t always listen to their advisers, this team is a signal that Biden believes in a multilateral, deliberate foreign policy. They include globalists and isolationists, liberal interventionists and doves.

Black and white photo of Barbara Boxer speaking into a seated Joe Biden's ear in the Senate
Biden with Sen. Barbara Boxer at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in 2003. Washington Post via Getty

First up: Undoing Trump’s foreign policy

Biden has been all of those things, by turns, in his long career. When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, Biden wanted to send weapons to help Ukraine defend itself. Yet he was among the lone voices in Obama’s administration to oppose a troop surge in Afghanistan.

One constant, though, is Biden’s strong belief in engaging with the world. He would likely erase and reverse many of Trump’s isolationist policies if elected.

Biden has promised to rejoin the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, the World Health Organization and other international agencies shunned by Trump. Biden has also announced that he will undo Trump’s Muslim immigrant ban and stop work on the U.S.-Mexico border wall – both policies congressional Democrats fiercely opposed.

As every past Democratic president has done, Biden plans to reverse the so-called “global gag rule,” which forbids using U.S. foreign assistance funds for abortion-related services. Research shows this rule doesn’t reduce abortions worldwide – it just makes them more dangerous.

Biden is also likely to reverse Trump’s abdication of U.S. leadership in the coronavirus pandemic. During the 2009 swine flu pandemic, Biden was among those who pushed the Obama administration to release stockpiled vaccines and other emergency equipment and was the point person for getting additional funding from Congress.

Next up: Rebuilding America’s relationships

Biden’s internationalism indicates he would move quickly to reconstruct the United States’ badly ruptured relations with many allies, including NATO, the European Union and Germany, a country Trump has criticized.

Joe Biden in Bosnia wearing camouflage and standing near a tank
Sen. Biden in Bosnia in 1993. He wanted the U.S. to intervene in the war there. AP Photo/Michael Stravato

During the Obama years, Biden worked with the Europeans to coordinate policies countering Russian aggression and pushed for the development of a common trans-Atlantic strategy toward trade and market access issues with China. Economists say reform of the global trading system is now long overdue.

Helping the EU deal with Hungary and Turkey – two authoritarian countries, one located right in Europe’s heart and the other at its critical border with the Middle East - is another likely area of trans-Atlantic cooperation under Biden, an advocate of liberal democracy.

As vice president, Biden had good relations with Turkey’s president Reçep Erdogan. But recently he has become much more critical, calling him an “autocrat.”

Russia and China

One world leader Biden has never been charmed by: Vladimir Putin.

“I am looking into your eyes,” Biden once told the Russian president, “and I don’t think you have a soul.”

Putin’s military aggression toward Ukraine, his Syria campaign and his use of cyber espionage and disinformation strategies to interfere in other nations’ elections have frayed U.S.-Russia relations.

Still, Biden – a longtime proponent of nuclear disarmament – says he would negotiate extending the last remaining Cold War disarmament treaty with Moscow, which expires in February 2021.

China is one area of consensus between Biden and Trump. Democrats in general agree with Trump’s hard-line policy toward what he considers “unfair” Chinese trade policies, lack of market access and intellectual property protections.

On the campaign trail, Biden has been highly critical of China’s assertive territorial behavior in the South China Sea and toward Taiwan, and condemned its repression of Hong Kong and the much abused Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang.

Still, analysts predict he would seek more professional and constructive relations with China than the Trump White House. Biden knows Xi and has worked with him before.

Engaging the Middle East

Candidate Biden has promised to end America’s “forever wars” by continuing to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan and avoid reengaging in Iraq, Syria and other trouble spots.

Early in his career, he believed in U.S. intervention. In 1993 Biden favored arming the Bosnian Muslims, which the Clinton administration declined to do, and he supported George W. Bush’s invasions of Afghanistan and, more reluctantly, Iraq after 9/11.

Biden waves next to an array of Israeli and US flags as Netanyahu walks behind him
Biden believes in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but is a strong supporter of Israel. Photo by Debbi Hill - Pool/ Getty Images

As Obama’s vice president, however, Biden vacillated on U.S. military involvement abroad. He opposed intervention in Libya and wanted to replace soldiers in Afghanistan with drone warfare, while encouraging Obama to bomb Syria after the government used chemical weapons against civilians.

[Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]

A wholesale withdrawal from the Middle East under a Biden presidency is unlikely. He is attached to too many issues there, among them rethinking the U.S.‘s morally dubious alliance with Saudi Arabia and pushing for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Biden also hopes to reactivate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal he helped create – but with new geopolitical concessions required of Tehran.

Biden has said that the United States has “an obligation to lead.” With his reputation for being a collaborative and principled politician, I expect his leadership would be welcomed by America’s allies – and perhaps even some of its foes.

Klaus W. Larres does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide…

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Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide Black Lives Matter riots in the summer of 2020, some elite colleges and universities shredded testing requirements for admission. Several years later, the test-optional admission has yet to produce the promising results for racial and class-based equity that many woke academic institutions wished.

The failure of test-optional admission policies has forced Dartmouth College to reinstate standardized test scores for admission starting next year. This should never have been eliminated, as merit will always prevail. 

"Nearly four years later, having studied the role of testing in our admissions process as well as its value as a predictor of student success at Dartmouth, we are removing the extended pause and reactivating the standardized testing requirement for undergraduate admission, effective with the Class of 2029," Dartmouth wrote in a press release Monday morning. 

"For Dartmouth, the evidence supporting our reactivation of a required testing policy is clear. Our bottom line is simple: we believe a standardized testing requirement will improve—not detract from—our ability to bring the most promising and diverse students to our campus," the elite college said. 

Who would've thought eliminating standardized tests for admission because a fringe minority said they were instruments of racism and a biased system was ever a good idea? 

Also, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. More from Dartmouth, who commissioned the research: 

They also found that test scores represent an especially valuable tool to identify high-achieving applicants from low and middle-income backgrounds; who are first-generation college-bound; as well as students from urban and rural backgrounds.

All the colleges and universities that quickly adopted test-optional admissions in 2020 experienced a surge in applications. Perhaps the push for test-optional was under the guise of woke equality but was nothing more than protecting the bottom line for these institutions. 

A glimpse of sanity returns to woke schools: Admit qualified kids. Next up is corporate America and all tiers of the US government. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/05/2024 - 17:20

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Four burning questions about the future of the $16.5B Novo-Catalent deal

To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.
Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand…

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To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.

Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand its own production capacity for its weight loss drugs, the Danish drugmaker said Monday it will pay $11 billion to acquire three manufacturing plants from Catalent. It’s part of a broader $16.5 billion deal with Novo Holdings, the investment arm of the pharma’s parent group, which agreed to acquire the contract manufacturer and take it private.

It’s a big deal for all parties, with potential ripple effects across the biotech ecosystem. Here’s a look at some of the most pressing questions to watch after Monday’s announcement.

Why did Novo do this?

Novo Holdings isn’t the most obvious buyer for Catalent, particularly after last year’s on-and-off M&A interest from the serial acquirer Danaher. But the deal could benefit both Novo Holdings and Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk’s biggest challenge has been simply making enough of the weight loss drug Wegovy and diabetes therapy Ozempic. On last week’s earnings call, Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said the company isn’t constrained by capital in its efforts to boost manufacturing. Rather, the main challenge is the limited amount of capabilities out there, he said.

“Most pharmaceutical companies in the world would be shopping among the same manufacturers,” he said. “There’s not an unlimited amount of machinery and people to build it.”

While Novo was already one of Catalent’s major customers, the manufacturer has been hamstrung by its own balance sheet. With roughly $5 billion in debt on its books, it’s had to juggle paying down debt with sufficiently investing in its facilities. That’s been particularly challenging in keeping pace with soaring demand for GLP-1 drugs.

Novo, on the other hand, has the balance sheet to funnel as much money as needed into the plants in Italy, Belgium, and Indiana. It’s also struggled to make enough of its popular GLP-1 drugs to meet their soaring demand, with documented shortages of both Ozempic and Wegovy.

The impact won’t be immediate. The parties expect the deal to close near the end of 2024. Novo Nordisk said it expects the three new sites to “gradually increase Novo Nordisk’s filling capacity from 2026 and onwards.”

As for the rest of Catalent — nearly 50 other sites employing thousands of workers — Novo Holdings will take control. The group previously acquired Altasciences in 2021 and Ritedose in 2022, so the Catalent deal builds on a core investing interest in biopharma services, Novo Holdings CEO Kasim Kutay told Endpoints News.

Kasim Kutay

When asked about possible site closures or layoffs, Kutay said the team hasn’t thought about that.

“That’s not our track record. Our track record is to invest in quality businesses and help them grow,” he said. “There’s always stuff to do with any asset you own, but we haven’t bought this company to do some of the stuff you’re talking about.”

What does it mean for Catalent’s customers? 

Until the deal closes, Catalent will operate as a standalone business. After it closes, Novo Nordisk said it will honor its customer obligations at the three sites, a spokesperson said. But they didn’t answer a question about what happens when those contracts expire.

The wrinkle is the long-term future of the three plants that Novo Nordisk is paying for. Those sites don’t exclusively pump out Wegovy, but that could be the logical long-term aim for the Danish drugmaker.

The ideal scenario is that pricing and timelines remain the same for customers, said Nicole Paulk, CEO of the gene therapy startup Siren Biotechnology.

Nicole Paulk

“The name of the group that you’re going to send your check to is now going to be Novo Holdings instead of Catalent, but otherwise everything remains the same,” Paulk told Endpoints. “That’s the best-case scenario.”

In a worst case, Paulk said she feared the new owners could wind up closing sites or laying off Catalent groups. That could create some uncertainty for customers looking for a long-term manufacturing partner.

Are shareholders and regulators happy? 

The pandemic was a wild ride for Catalent’s stock, with shares surging from about $40 to $140 and then crashing back to earth. The $63.50 share price for the takeover is a happy ending depending on the investor.

On that point, the investing giant Elliott Investment Management is satisfied. Marc Steinberg, a partner at Elliott, called the agreement “an outstanding outcome” that “clearly maximizes value for Catalent stockholders” in a statement.

Elliott helped kick off a strategic review last August that culminated in the sale agreement. Compared to Catalent’s stock price before that review started, the deal pays a nearly 40% premium.

Alessandro Maselli

But this is hardly a victory lap for CEO Alessandro Maselli, who took over in July 2022 when Catalent’s stock price was north of $100. Novo’s takeover is a tacit acknowledgment that Maselli could never fully right the ship, as operational problems plagued the company throughout 2023 while it was limited by its debt.

Additional regulatory filings in the next few weeks could give insight into just how competitive the sale process was. William Blair analysts said they don’t expect a competing bidder “given the organic investments already being pursued at other leading CDMOs and the breadth and scale of Catalent’s operations.”

The Blair analysts also noted the companies likely “expect to spend some time educating relevant government agencies” about the deal, given the lengthy closing timeline. Given Novo Nordisk’s ascent — it’s now one of Europe’s most valuable companies — paired with the limited number of large contract manufacturers, antitrust regulators could be interested in taking a close look.

Are Catalent’s problems finally a thing of the past?

Catalent ran into a mix of financial and operational problems over the past year that played no small part in attracting the interest of an activist like Elliott.

Now with a deal in place, how quickly can Novo rectify those problems? Some of the challenges were driven by the demands of being a publicly traded company, like failing to meet investors’ revenue expectations or even filing earnings reports on time.

But Catalent also struggled with its business at times, with a range of manufacturing delays, inspection reports and occasionally writing down acquisitions that didn’t pan out. Novo’s deep pockets will go a long way to a turnaround, but only the future will tell if all these issues are fixed.

Kutay said his team is excited by the opportunity and was satisfied with the due diligence it did on the company.

“We believe we’re buying a strong company with a good management team and good prospects,” Kutay said. “If that wasn’t the case, I don’t think we’d be here.”

Amber Tong and Reynald Castañeda contributed reporting.

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Petrina Kamya, Ph.D., Head of AI Platforms at Insilico Medicine, presents at BIO CEO & Investor Conference

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb….

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Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

Credit: Insilico Medicine

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

The session will look at how the latest artificial intelligence (AI) tools – including generative AI and large language models – are currently being used to advance the discovery and design of new drugs, and which technologies are still in development. 

The BIO CEO & Investor Conference brings together over 1,000 attendees and more than 700 companies across industry and institutional investment to discuss the future investment landscape of biotechnology. Sessions focus on topics such as therapeutic advancements, market outlook, and policy priorities.

Insilico Medicine is a leading, clinical stage AI-driven drug discovery company that has raised over $400m in investments since it was founded in 2014. Dr. Kamya leads the development of the Company’s end-to-end generative AI platform, Pharma.AI from Insilico’s AI R&D Center in Montreal. Using modern machine learning techniques in the context of chemistry and biology, the platform has driven the discovery and design of 30+ new therapies, with five in clinical stages – for cancer, fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and COVID-19. The Company’s lead drug, for the chronic, rare lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is the first AI-designed drug for an AI-discovered target to reach Phase II clinical trials with patients. Nine of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies have used Insilico’s AI platform to advance their programs, and the Company has a number of major strategic licensing deals around its AI-designed therapeutic assets, including with Sanofi, Exelixis and Menarini. 

 

About Insilico Medicine

Insilico Medicine, a global clinical stage biotechnology company powered by generative AI, is connecting biology, chemistry, and clinical trials analysis using next-generation AI systems. The company has developed AI platforms that utilize deep generative models, reinforcement learning, transformers, and other modern machine learning techniques for novel target discovery and the generation of novel molecular structures with desired properties. Insilico Medicine is developing breakthrough solutions to discover and develop innovative drugs for cancer, fibrosis, immunity, central nervous system diseases, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and aging-related diseases. www.insilico.com 


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