CNO quarantines as NG chief tests positive; Still too few tests; Defense industry is hiring; Iran warship missiles another; And a bit more.

The country’s coronavirus death toll is nearly 80,000. This weekend America’s National Guard chief tested positive (and subsequently negative) for COVID-19 at the White House, and the Navy chief is self-quarantining at home after recently coming into contact with an infected family member.

About National Guard Chief Gen. Joseph Lengyel: He tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday, then he tested negative shortly afterward. Today he’ll take a third test to hopefully get some more clarity, Reuters reports. A rapid test delivered the positive result for Lengyel this weekend, and that positive came just ahead of a White House meeting Saturday between the president and his national security team, Bloomberg reports. And that would suggest three people close to POTUS have tested positive, including that valet and a close aide to Vice President Mike Pence. 

About the CNO: After contact with an infected member of his family, “Adm. Michael Gilday was tested for the virus on Friday and although he is negative [on Sunday] he will quarantine for several days,” CNN reported. Tiny bit more to that, here

It’s not just you. There’s a gradual erosion in support for staying at home in the U.S. Seven in ten Americans favor requiring people to stay “except for essential errands, which is down slightly from 80% two weeks earlier,” according to a new survey from AP-NORC.

Also notable: 

  • For Democrats, 84% favor stay-at-home orders, down slightly from 91% in April;
  • For Republicans, it’s 57% — down from 70% in April;
  • Overall, there’s declining support for limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer (75% from 82%)
  • And 55% disapprove of reopen protests while 31% approve.

France opened up shops and factories for the first time in eight weeks, Reuters reports. For some scene-setting, AFP reports from the capital this morning that “Masks were everywhere and floors marked with tape indicating the safe social distance between people, including spots showing where to stand on trains and buses, and roughly half of seats marked as off-limits. In office buildings, employees who cannot work from home are now kept far apart from colleagues, bottles of hand sanitiser are everywhere, and doors are propped open so people do not have to touch them.”

The Netherlands is sending kids back to school; and Germany has reopened its gyms. Although Madrid and Barcelona remain under lockdown, Spain has otherwise reopened to outdoor eating, AP reports from Paris. 

India just recorded its largest daily increase in cases today, and South Korea has decided to halt reopening its schools. 

Russia now has the third-highest case count in the world, behind Spain and the U.S.“More than half of all cases and deaths are in Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s outbreak,” Reuters reports. “The country’s coronavirus response centre also reported 94 new deaths, taking the overall death toll to 2,009. The official death toll remains far lower than in many countries, something Kremlin critics have queried.”

The UK is encouraging a return to work for those who cannot do so from home, even though the country has the highest death toll in Europe. Those two incongruities have “sparked nationwide confusion” today, AP reports separately today from London.

Big picture: “Other nations don’t see the U.S. as a leader during the pandemic, the New York Times’ Lara Jakes reported Friday. It’s a familiar refrain by now, but the long story short is this: “Whether that means halting funding to the World Health Organization, skipping a vaccine donor conference in Europe or barring foreign health workers in poor nations from buying masks and gloves with American aid, the Trump administration’s retrenchment has alarmed allies and allowed China to take a larger, if contentious, public role in the worldwide efforts.” Continue reading, here

New on Sunday: The U.S. is reportedly about to accuse China of trying to hack vaccine data, according to the NYTs David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth.

But it’s not just China: “More than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses,” Sanger and Perlroth write. “Even American allies like South Korea and nations that do not typically stand out for their cyberabilities, like Vietnam, have suddenly redirected their state-run hackers to focus on virus-related information, according to private security firms.” Read on, here.

And please don’t be fooled: That trendy “Plandemic” video is “full of inaccurate conspiracy theories,” and Politifact helps sort through some of the more damaging ones, here.


From Defense One

There’s One Big Reason the U.S. Economy Can’t Reopen // Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic: The country faces the same problem today that it did two months ago: There are not enough tests to contain the virus.

US Defense Firms Hiring Thousands Amid Record Unemployment   // Marcus Weisgerber: Pentagon spending on missiles, satellites, and nuclear weapons fuels a production boom, as firms fight off commercial aerospace downturn.

FBI Got Everything It Asked for in DNC Investigation, Refuting ‘Missing Server’ Myth // Patrick Tucker: New transcripts released by the House intelligence committee shed light on Russia’s interference in 2016 election.

Defense One Radio, Ep. 68: // Defense One Staff: How Americans view the U.S. role in the world, with Ivo Daalder.

Amazon Files Another Protest Over JEDI Contract // Frank R. Konkel, Nextgov: In response, Microsoft blasts Amazon Web Services for trying to force a do-over for the multibillion-dollar cloud contract.

The Post-Pandemic Military Will Need to Improvise // Dan Patt and Bryan Clark: We don’t mean Pentagon-style “innovation.” We mean like the chefs on the reality show “Chopped.”

Why Michael Flynn Is Walking Free // David A. Graham, The Atlantic: The former national security adviser figured out that loyalty to Trump is now a better bet than loyalty to the rule of law.

Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Send us tips from your community right here. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1997, Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov to become the first computer to beat a world-champion chess player in a classic match format, which yielded three draws, as well as one win for Kasparov and the two ultimately decisive victories for Deep Blue.


One Iranian warship accidentally attacked another Iranian warship. The frigate Jamaran fired at a training target released by the Konarak, a support ship, during Sunday afternoon exercises just outside the southern port of Bandar-e Jask on the Gulf of Oman, state broadcaster IRIB said. The Konarak tarried too near the target and was struck by the missile, killing 19 sailors and wounding 15 more, Reuters reports

A retired Afghan general joined the Taliban on Sunday. Gen. Abdul Jalil Bakhtawar, a onetime police chief of the restive province of Farah in western Afghanistan, “was a dogged enemy of the Taliban” until he joined his erstwhile enemies in a ceremony marked by flowers and white flags, the NYT reports. One of Bakhtawar’s sons is the deputy governor of Farah. Read on, here.
Mark Frerichs is a commercial contractor kidnapped in Afghanistan days before U.S. officials struck a peace deal with Taliban. His family fears he’s not part of the final negotiations. The Taliban implausibly deny he’s their captive. (ABC News)

In northern Lebanon, “We are heading towards a famine.” AP has an excellent but grim account of the devastating situation in northern Lebanon’s Tripoli, where economic collapse is driving the already-poor populace into hunger.

Prospective VOA chief to get hearing: “Senate Republican leaders, under pressure from President Trump to install an ally who would dictate more favorable news coverage of his administration, are moving to swiftly confirm a conservative filmmaker” — Michael Pack, an ally of Steve Bannon — to lead the agency that runs the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and Middle East Broadcasting Networks and other government media operations. (NYT)

And lastly today: a Boston Robotics dog robot is on patrol. The star of a string of videos showing ever-more-uncanny movements and tricks, the four-legged automaton formally went on sale in November. Now it’s patrolling parks in Singapore, barking social-distancing reminders to those who appear to have forgotten the rules, the South China Morning Post reports. (Video and more via BoingBoing.)

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