• Crisis Exposes How America Has Hollowed Out Its Government

    The government’s halting response to the coronavirus pandemic represents the culmination of chronic structural weaknesses, years of underinvestment and political rhetoric that has undermined the public trust — conditions compounded by President Trump’s open hostility to a federal bureaucracy that has been called upon to manage the crisis. Dam Balz writes that “The nation is reaping the effects of decades of denigration of government and also from a steady squeeze on the resources needed to shore up the domestic parts of the executive branch.”

  • The Most Remarkable Part of Rick Bright's Testimony

    The most remarkable part of Rick Bright’s testimony: His claims about the government’s lack of COVID-19 preparedness went largely uncontested, even by the president’s allies. Russell Berman writes in The Atlantic that it was a single, salty sentence that first made Rick Bright realize a pandemic crisis was coming: “We’re in deep shit.” Those four words, punctuated by the profanity, also neatly summarize Bright’s stark message to Congress over the course of his four-hour testimony: The United States dropped the ball early in the pandemic, and it remains woefully unprepared for the painful months to come. “Lives were endangered,” he said, “and I believe lives were lost.” Without a significantly improved federal response, Bright told lawmakers, “2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history.”

  • Studying Ideologically Motivated Cyberattacks

    A John Jay College of Criminal Justice project on cyberterrorism is one of 13 selected by the Department of Homeland Security as part of the National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology, and Education (NCITE) Center, a new DHS Center of Excellence. The John Jay project will study and aggregate ideologically motivated cyberattacks and will create a new, unique dataset – the Cyber-Extremist Crime Database (Cyber-ECDB) – which will track ideologically motivated cyberattacks against U.S. targets from 1998 to present.

  • “A Crippling Blow to America’s Prestige”: The Government Struggles to Meet the Moment

    The global coronavirus crisis crashed into the United States in Washington state in January and quickly brought the richest and most powerful nation in the history of the world to its knees. Ben White writes that, so far, the federal response has been too small in scope and short on creative solutions to meet the greatest challenge since the Second World War. “The United States was once known for its can-do culture. We built the Panama Canal and we put a man on the moon,” said historian Douglas Brinkley of Rice University. “And now we can’t get a swab or a face mask or a gown and we have no real chain of command. And we have two Americas, a Republican one and a Democratic one, and they won’t collaborate. We are not leading in the pandemic response, we are trailing other countries by a long shot. This is a crippling blow to America’s prestige around the world.”

  • U.K. Coronavirus Antibody Test Validated – but Results Show under-40s May Not Be Immune

    Tests aimed at determining whether Britons have recovered from coronavirus may not be useful because younger people do not produce sufficient quantities of antibodies to the virus, early research suggests. Sarah Knapton writes in The Telegraph that it was hoped that antibody tests could help kickstart the economy by allowing those who are immune out of lockdown. The government had been hoping to roll out millions of tests in the coming weeks in the belief that some kind of “immunity certificate” might be possible for those testing positive, but supplies from China have so far failed to pass sensitivity and specificity tests. Professor Karol Sikora, a private oncologist and Dean of Medicine at the University of Buckingham, this week validated a test kit using samples from staff at his clinics, which were then verified by a private lab. Around six per cent of staff were found to have had the virus but, crucially, under-40s who had tested positive came back negative, suggesting the test may not be useful for the wider population. 

  • Amid Talk of Reopening, Fauci Warns U.S. Not There Yet with COVID-19

    In an interview yesterday with the Associated Press, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said opening up the nation on May 1 is “a bit overly optimistic.” His comments come a day after President Donald Trump announced a new reopening task force, meant to help guide the country back to economic health after the national COVID-19 30 April physical distancing campaign ends. In a heated back-and-forth with reporters, yesterday Trump said that only the president has the ability to call the shots on when and how to reopen the country. But Fauci said yesterday, “We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet.” Meanwhile, governors yesterday and yesterday continued to outline their plans for reopening.

  • The Defense Production Act and the Failure to Prepare for Catastrophic Incidents

    When early data from Mexico suggested that a new strain of influenza, H1N1, might have a mortality rate between 1 and 10 percent in April 2009, the U.S. government sprang into action. Washington anticipated that the H1N1 virus might lead to a public health catastrophe as bad or worse than what is happening today with COVID-19. Jared Brown writes that the lessons of 2009 were not learnt – or implemented. “The executive branch’s ad-hoc application of the Defense Production Act’s authorities to this pandemic is Exhibit A of how our government, across multiple Republican and Democratic administrations and throughout the national security enterprise, has failed to develop or adapt the Act’s tools for the threats of the 21st century,” he writes.

  • Botswana President Wants to Extend COVID-19 State of Emergency to Six Months

    Botswana’s president has proposed extending a state of emergency in the southern African country to last six months. President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the measure is needed because people are not complying with restrictions on movement to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Critics worry the plan, if initiated, would put too much power in the hands of the president.
    Mqondisi Dube writes for VOA that Botswana’s parliament will convene on Wednesday to deliberate on Masisi’s proposal.
    The president wants the state of emergency, declared last week in reaction to the outbreak of the coronavirus, to last six months.
    Initially, Masisi had announced a 28-day lockdown period after the southern African country recorded its first six coronavirus cases, including one death, last week.

  • The U.S. Needs to Know What Went Wrong

    When America has recovered from the coronavirus crisis and people are back to work, Congress should consider a 9/11-style independent commission to examine why the United States was so unprepared for the pandemic.

  • Atlantic Council Launches Future of DHS Project

    The Atlantic Council announced the other day that the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security’s launch of the Future of DHS Project: Protecting the Homeland from Coronavirus, Threats to Democracy, and Other Future Threats. The project will rely on senior experts in homeland and national security to recommend major reforms for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

  • U.S. COVID-19 Cases Surge Past 82,000, Highest Total in World

    Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, reached 82,404 yesterday in the United States, giving it the most cases in the world. And yesterday was the most active day so far in the country, with 14,042 new cases reported, and the national death toll reaching 1,069 fatalities. The numbers came on day 10 of the White House’s “15 days to slow the spread campaign,” a nationwide effort at social distancing measures that has been implemented in a patchwork fashion across the 50 states.

  • U.S. Announces Narcoterrorism Charges Against Venezuela's Maduro

    The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday announced narcoterrorism charges against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and other top officials, accusing them of collaborating with a leftist Colombian guerrilla group to traffic cocaine to the United States.

  • New York Notes Dramatic Increase in COVID-19 Numbers as Trump Mulls Lifting Restrictions Soon

    Yesterday New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the COVID-19 pandemic case count is doubling every 3 days in his state, as the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the United States could become the next epicenter of the novel coronavirus, given that the country accounted for 40 percent of new cases recorded globally over the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, yesterday in the Rose Garden, President Donald Trump told viewers during a Fox News virtual town hall that he wants the country “opened up and raring to go by Easter Sunday,” which this year falls on 12 April.

  • Surgeon General on COVID-19: “This Week It's Going to Get Bad”

    Yesterday the Surgeon General of the United States, Jerome Adams, MD, said on the Today Show that this week could get bad for many Americans who will face a growing rise of COVID-19 cases in their communities. Confirmed U.S. cases rose by 9,541 yesterday, to 42,817, according to the Johns Hopkins online tracker, with 458 associated deaths.

  • We Were Warned

    When, inevitably, an investigative commission will be set up to investigate the government’s response to COVID-19 crisis, it will conclude that signs of a coming crisis were everywhere. Uri Friedman writes that President Donald Trump has referred to the coronavirus outbreak as “an unforeseen problem,” as “something that nobody expected,” and as a crisis that “came out of nowhere,” but as is so often the case with Trump, he was not telling the truth. In fact, the investigative commission will conclude that the warning lights were blinking red for years, within the government and outside the government. Despite the warning lights, the voluminous studies, and the alarming reports from the U.S. intelligence community, the U.S. government was not sufficiently prepared when the virus SARS-CoV-2, finally came calling.