Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Elliot Setzer
Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 12:49 PM

More than 435,000 people worldwide have tested positive for COVID-19, reports the Washington Post. President Trump yesterday said he “would love to have the country opened up, and just raring to go, by Easter,” on April 12, despite criticism from top health professionals that this date is far too soon, writes the New York Times. Trump expressed outrage about having to “close the country,” and struck a strikingly different tone from other world leaders. Meanwhile, a World Health Organization official said on Tuesday that the United States has the potential to become the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic due to a “very large acceleration” in cases in the U.S., according to Reuters.

Senate leaders and the Trump administration reached a bipartisan deal early this morning on a nearly $2 trillion emergency relief package in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, reports Politico. Senate Democrats secured congressional and inspector general oversight of a $500 billion fund designed to lend money to corporations struggling as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Vice President Pence on Tuesday urged anyone leaving the New York City area to self-isolate for 14 days, as COVID-19 cases in the metro area continue to spike, writes the Wall Street Journal.

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said people who intentionally spread the coronavirus could face criminal charges under federal terrorism laws, according to Politico. “Because Coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a ‘biological agent’... such acts potentially could implicate the nation’s terrorism-related statutes,” the Justice Department’s No. 2 official wrote. Attorney General Bill Barr warned during a briefing on Monday that hoarding of supplies like masks would be prosecuted.

The federal Bureau of Prisons yesterday said it has imposed a 14-day quarantine for all new inmates entering any of its facilities, reports the Wall Street Journal. The move comes as pressure mounts for the Trump administration to transfer at-risk inmates to home detention.

The Chinese government today began lifting the last of the mandatory controls that confined tens of millions of people to their homes in Hubei province, writes the Associated Press. The central government is relaxing restrictions in order to revive the economy after declaring victory over COVID-19.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has postponed an April 22 vote on constitutional changes that would grant him the right to serve two more consecutive terms, citing coronavirus concerns, according to the BBC.

The speaker of Israel’s Parliament, Yuli Edelstein, an ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, resigned today rather than complying with a Supreme Court order to allow opposition lawmakers to choose his successor, reports the Times. The move delays Benny Gantz and Blue and White’s ability to take control of the legislative process until next week.

Gunmen raided a Sikh religious complex in Kabul, Afghanistan today, killing 25 people, writes Reuters. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. Following the U.S. decision Monday to cut $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani yesterday assured the public he would find “contingency” funds to make up for the loss in aid, according to the Washington Post.

Clashes between rival Libyan forces for control of Tripoli escalated today, reports the Associated Press. The escalation in fighting comes despite an international campaign to halt the violence over concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

Turkish prosecutors have prepared an indictment against a close advisor to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and a former deputy head of Saudi general intelligence over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, writes Reuters. The indictment accuses Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmed al-Asiri of having “instigated premeditated murder with monstrous intent.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Elena Chachko analyzed Israel’s year-and-a-half-long constitutional crisis, which appears to be approaching its apex.

Jen Patja Howell shared the most recent episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring an interview with Freedom House experts on the organization’s annual “Freedom in the World” report.

Stewart Baker shared the most recent episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast, examining the ways in which governments are using location data to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Bobby Chesney examined whether the federal government can override state government rules on social distancing.

Lester Munson shared the most recent episode of Fault Lines, discussing the Afghan peace deal.

Peter Swire analyzed what the response to 9/11 can tell us about how to understand the security and privacy questions associated with the coronavirus.

Elliot Setzer shared draft legislation from the Justice Department proposing video hearings and delayed proceedings, and other proposals, to cope with issues arising from COVID-19.

Emma Broches examined what is happening with the foreign women and children in SDF custody in Syria.

Matthew Ferraro and Preston Golson argued that the next gray zone conflict will be state-based disinformation attacks on the private sector.

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