Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Elliot Setzer
Thursday, May 21, 2020, 12:45 PM

The Trump administration announced today that it’s pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, which permits 30-plus nations to conduct unarmed observation flights over each other’s territory that are intended to promote trust and avert conflict between the U.S. and Russia, according to the Associated Press.

All 50 states have at least partially eased COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, reports NPR.

Authorities in 23 countries across five continents—as well as several U.S. states—have sought access to the contact tracing technology being developed by Apple and Google, writes Reuters. The companies released the initial version of their tool yesterday. Some governments contend their app-based tracing efforts would be more effective if they could track users’ locations, but Apple and Google have barred authorities using jointly developed technology from collecting GPS location data.

The emergence of dozens of new COVID-19 cases in northeastern China has prompted authorities to reinstate a limited lockdown, according to the Wall Street Journal. The return of some strict controls comes at a time when the government is trying to spur economic activity.

The U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier that had been docked in Guam since late March due to a coronavirus outbreak aboard the ship, is now back at sea, reports the Hill.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said yesterday his government would put in place a program by June 1 to test and trace those suspected of having been in contact with people who test positive for the novel coronavirus, writes Reuters.

The Supreme Court yesterday temporarily blocked the release of parts of the report prepared by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to the New York Times. The Court’s order will prevent the release of grand jury materials sought by the House Judiciary Committee until the justices review whether to hear an appeal of a circuit court ruling that sided with the House.

A Senate committee voted yesterday to subpoena Blue Star Strategies, a Democratic public-relations firm that did consulting work for Ukrainian company Burisma, as part of a Republican-led investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, reports Politico.

The U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran’s interior minister yesterday, accusing him of engaging in human rights abuses, according to Reuters.

The Trump administration is weighing a short extension of an Obama-era nuclear arms treaty while it pursues a more sweeping arms pact with both Russia and China, writes Politico. Under the plan, the White House would temporarily extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

The Pentagon has not withheld $1 billion in funding from Afghan security forces despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s vow in late March to cut that sum “immediately”, reports Reuters.

The Senate has passed a bill that could block some Chinese companies from selling shares on American stock exchanges unless the companies follow U.S. standards for audits and other financial regulations, according to the BBC.

Twitter is testing a feature that lets users limit who can reply to their tweets, allowing them to select if they will allow replies from everyone, people they follow, or only people they mention, writes the Verge.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Rational Security podcast, discussing the firing of the State Department inspector general.

Patja Howell also shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast discussing Trump’s relationship with his predecessors with Kate Andersen Brower, author of “Team of Five: The Presidents Club in the Age of Trump.”

Vanda Felbab-Brown discussed what police should focus on during and after the pandemic.

Herb Lin argued the scientific community must develop coronavirus vaccines and treatments cooperatively and not competitively.

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