Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Elliot Setzer
Friday, April 3, 2020, 12:53 PM

President Trump yesterday issued an order under the Defense Production Act to allow four companies to secure supplies they need to build ventilators, reports the Wall Street Journal. Yet the government has still not used the full authority of the act, including the power the act grants federal authorities to allocate equipment and supplies based on actual need and public-health recommendations, writes James Baker for the New York Times.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday she would seek to create a special bipartisan committee to oversee all aspects of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including how it distributes $2 trillion in aid, according to the Times.

The White House is expected to urge Americans to wear face coverings in public to slow the spread of COVID-19, reports the Washington Post.

The U.S. Navy has removed Captain Brett Crozier, who wrote a letter to the Pentagon raising the alarm about a coronavirus outbreak onboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, writes the BBC. The Navy Secretary told reporters that Crozier was being fired for allegedly leaking the letter to the media.

The U.N. General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution yesterday recognizing “the unprecedented effects” of the coronavirus pandemic and urging global cooperation to fight COVID-19, according to the Associated Press. The assembly did not approve a rival resolution sponsored by Russia, the Central African Republic, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela urging an end to trade wars, protectionist policy and unilateral sanctions.

The C.I.A. has been warning the White House in intelligence briefings in recent weeks that China has significantly understated the number of coronavirus infections and that its count cannot be relied upon as a comparison to understand how COVID-19 will affect the United States, reports the New York Times. Intelligence agencies have been unable to glean more accurate numbers through their own collection efforts.

Google has offered to share user location data with health officials to help track people’s movements amid the coronavirus pandemic, writes the Wall Street Journal. The initiative uses information that the company has collected on users to create “mobility reports” outlining the degree to which locales are following social-distancing guidelines. Google did not outline plans to provide unaggregated data for individual contact-tracing.

At least 75 members of pro-government forces and 12 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan in the past week, according to the New York Times.

Iranian government-backed hackers have tried to break into the personal email accounts of staff at the World Health Organization amidst the coronavirus pandemic, writes Reuters.

President Trump’s reelection campaign is launching a multimillion-dollar legal operation aimed at blocking Democrats from changing voting rules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Politico. The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee are engaged in litigation in Wisconsin over voter identification issues and in New Mexico over vote-by-mail as Democratic lawmakers propose initiatives to make it easier to vote during the pandemic.

Two months before the novel coronavirus began spreading in Wuhan, the Trump administration ended a $200-million pandemic early-warning program aimed at training scientists in China and other countries to respond to potential pandemics, writes the L.A. Times.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee is pressing ahead with its investigation into Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, despite logistical challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak, according to Politico.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring an interview with Nate Persily of Stanford Law School about whether democracy can survive the internet.

Masha Simonova and Nathaniel Sobel analyzed the federal executive emergency authorities available to address COVID-19.

Gary Corn discussed coronavirus disinformation and the need for states to bolster international law.

Justin Sherman analyzed the risks posed by TikTok.

Lindsay Gorman argued that the U.S.—along with its democratic allies—should increase its representation at international standards bodies.

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