Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Elliot Setzer
Wednesday, April 22, 2020, 1:32 PM

President Trump said yesterday that he would temporarily suspend the issuance of green cards to prevent people from immigrating to the U.S., but backed away from an earlier plan to suspend guest worker programs in the face of pressure from business groups, reports the New York Times. Trump said that his order would initially be in effect for 60 days but might be extended.

The Senate yesterday approved a nearly $500 billion coronavirus aid bill that provides funding for small businesses, hospitals and disease testing, writes Politico. The House is expected to pass the legislation on Thursday. As Congress prepares new funding for health-care facilities, hospitals have yet to receive $70 billion of the emergency support allocated to them almost a month ago in the last stimulus package, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Chinese operatives sowed panic in the U.S. by spreading and amplifying disinformation that claimed that President Trump was locking down the country, reports the New York Times. This effort included sending texts to many Americans’ cellphones, a tactic which U.S. officials said they had not seen before. According to a new State Department internal report, Russia, China and Iran are together mounting increasingly coordinated COVID-19 disinformation campaigns against the U.S., writes the Wall Street Journal.

Robert Redford, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned yesterday that a second wave of COVID-19 next winter will be far more dire because it will likely coincide with the start of flu season, according to the Washington Post.

Governor Cuomo and President Trump agreed yesterday on a plan for doubling New York’s coronavirus screening capacity to 40,000 tests per day, reports Reuters. Under the plan, the federal government will procure and furnish the test kits and related materials while the state will expand laboratory capacity and hire the necessary staff.

The United States has deported dozens of infected migrants since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, leaving the Mexico governments and many of its counterparts in Central America and the Caribbean struggling to respond, writes the Washington Post. The Mexican government has asked the Department of Homeland Security to test deportees for the virus, but the Department has not committed to doing so. In Guatemala, deportees from the U.S. currently make up about 17 percent of the country’s total confirmed cases.

Attorney General William Barr threatened to take legal action against governors who continue to impose stay-at-home orders even after the coronavirus crisis subsides in their states, according to Bloomberg. Barr stated that the Justice Department might act against state or local officials by joining lawsuits brought by citizens or businesses over restrictions.

The state of Missouri is suing China for that country’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, reports NPR. Observers have noted that Missouri will likely have trouble getting around China’s sovereign immunity in U.S. courts.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard claims it has put the country’s first military satellite into orbit today, writes the Associated Press.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast explaining the clinical research progress for coronavirus remedies and discussing what counts as legitimate clinical evidence that a treatment really works.

Eric Posner argued that the World Health Organization had problems long before President Trump began to criticize its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Elliot Setzer analyzed a “paper hearing” on big data and the coronavirus in which lawmakers and private experts debated digital contact tracing and COVID-19 privacy concerns.

Setzer also shared a letter from a bipartisan group of senators urging cyber leaders to prevent attacks on the healthcare sector.

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast, featuring an interview with Thomas Rid on his study of the history of disinformation.

Elliot Setzer shared the fourth volume of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on Russian election interference.

Rachael Hanna argued that shell corporations facilitate contracting fraud at the Department of Defense and explored how the ILLICIT CASH ACT could solve some of these problems.

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