Twitter knocks Trump for 'glorifying violence' with tweet; COVID testing rises but not enough; Navy’s Pacific FONOP; A boon for disinfo bots; And a bit more.

President Trump threatened to send the National Guard to Minnesota in a tweet just before 1 a.m. this morning. An hour and 12 minutes before that, the Minnesota National Guard confirmed in its own tweet that 500 of its soldiers had already been ordered up by Gov. Tim Walz that very evening. It was an admittedly chaotic evening for Minneapolis (more on that below); but it was the president’s next tweet that raised even more eyebrows.

In a new first, Twitter added a “glorifying violence” warning to a Trump tweet. The tweet immediately followed the one just mentioned above, and “came after protesters in [Minneapolis] breached a police precinct that had been evacuated and set fire to the building,” the Washington Post reports

Context: “The chaotic scenes that emerged Thursday night marked the latest escalation of the widespread unrest that has plagued Minneapolis for three straight days following a fatal incident [on Monday] in which [George] Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for minutes as he was handcuffed on the ground.”

Here’s the Trump tweet, with emphasis added to the offending phrase: 

  • “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” (For some history of that phrase, author Don Winslow offers this.)

And here’s Twitter’s communications team explaining why they acted: 

  • “This Tweet violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today. We've taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance. As is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but will not be able to Like, Reply or Retweet it.”

By the way: If Trump wanted to send the Guard, Defense One’s Katie Bo Williams wrote on Twitter today, “There are two ways this might work. He can send in the Guard — but they won't have law enforcement authorities under Posse Comitatus — *unless* he invokes the Insurrection Act. More here.”

  • And “we're in the midst of the longest period in US history” without invoking the Insurrection Act, national security law professor Steve Vladeck tweeted today. “It hasn't been used since May 1, 1992—in response to the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.”

Trump also lashed out against being fact-checked on Twitter this week, calling the platform’s “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” label of his two misleading tweets on the subject Tuesday “political activism” during remarks to reporters Thursday inside the Oval Office. Trump spoke moments ahead of signing a retaliatory executive order that legal experts told Defense One’s Patrick Tucker may not even be enforceable

You may be wondering: How is America’s coronavirus testing going? And what about hiring enough tracing personnel and infrastructure to help contain the virus, minimize harm, and safely reopen the country?

Still a long way to go. America tested some 415,000 people on Thursday, the fourth time in two weeks that the daily total has exceeded 400K, bringing the year’s total past 15.6 million tests, according to the COVID Tracking Project. But experts say that at least half a million daily tests — and perhaps many, many more than that — are needed to get the virus under control, The Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer reported earlier this month. “But to an almost astonishing degree, the U.S. has no national plan for achieving this goal.” Read, here.

Making matters worse: “Federal and state officials across the country have altered or hidden public health data crucial to tracking the coronavirus' spread, hindering the ability to detect a surge of infections as President Donald Trump pushes the nation to reopen rapidly,” Politico reported Wednesday evening. “The lack of accurate and consistent Covid-19 data, coupled with the fact that the White House no longer has regular briefings where officials reinforce the need for ongoing social distancing, makes that task even harder.”

Heads up: The coronavirus could become endemic — like measles, HIV, and chickenpox, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. “Experts in epidemiology, disaster planning and vaccine development say embracing that reality is crucial to the next phase of America’s pandemic response. The long-term nature of covid-19, they say, should serve as a call to arms for the public, a road map for the trillions of dollars Congress is spending and a fixed navigational point for the nation’s current, chaotic state-by-state patchwork strategy.” Read on, here.

From Defense One

Trump’s Social-Media Order Is a Gift to Disinformation Bots, Experts Say // Patrick Tucker: But much of the order may be legally unenforceable.

Our National Security Requires a Stronger Nuclear-Energy Industry / U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette: DOE’s new strategy lays out what needs to be done.

Global Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Futures Command’s predictions; Boeing’s layoffs; Export trends; and more...

House Coronavirus Relief Bill Would Send Billions to Defense Companies // Jake Pearson, ProPublica: A section of the proposed HEROES Act would cover executive compensation and other perks for defense and intel contractors, mirroring wording offered by an industry group.

Why South Carolina Is an American Model for Coronavirus Response // Jenny Meredith, The Conversation: As other states reopen, Dr. Fauci said he'd like to clone what they're doing in the Palmetto State.

China Escalates the Pandemic Propaganda War // Kathy Gilsinan, The Atlantic: As its global image takes a big hit, China is using an arsenal of spin, obfuscation, hyperbole, and outright disinformation to win back its reputation.

How COVID-19 Kicked a USAF Software Team Into High Gear // Aaron Boyd, Nextgov: The programming group that makes tools for the Air Force's developers is now posting about 10 upgrades per day.

Welcome to this Friday 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 1913, Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" premiered in Paris and provoked a riot.

Happening today: The Department of Energy hosts a panel of its own experts alongside a few from the industry to discuss the White House’s “Strategy to Restore American Nuclear Energy Leadership.” Secretary Dan Brouillette provides the opening remarks for that, which begins at noon. Register to watch, here.
Read Secretary Brouillette’s oped in Defense One: “Our National Security Requires a Stronger Nuclear-Energy Industry.”
Already happened today: Air Force Lt. Gen. John Shanahan, who directs the  Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, spoke at 9:30 a.m. at an online event with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Catch it in reruns, here.
Also already happened today: Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite was sworn in, and the Navy has more about him and the occasion, here.

The U.S. Navy just conducted another South China Sea FONOP, this one near the Paracel Islands, CNN reported Thursday. “The US Navy has twice sailed warships in a similar effort to challenge Chinese claims to the Paracel and Spratly islands in the last month and [carried] out another such operation near the Paracels in March.”
Involved this time: The guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89), which “passed within 12 nautical miles of Woody Island and Pyramid Rock in the islands, a US Navy official said. China maintains an airfield on Woody Island and has landed strategic bomber aircraft there in the past.” More, here.

President Trump says he’ll talk about China today in a press conference at the White House. He seemed to suggest multiple times this week that he’s intrigued by China’s border dispute with India in the Himalaya mountains that we mentioned (via Reuters) three days ago. About that flashpoint, The Economist reported Thursday, “Chinese troops have crossed the undefined border with India at several points, some reportedly penetrating 3-4km over punishing terrain. They are said to have destroyed Indian posts and bridges, and dug in with tents and trenches.” 
And today, “a detailed analysis of satellite images has shown extensive deployment of towed artillery and mechanised elements on the Chinese side, bringing Indian deployments within striking distance,” according to The Indian Express.
SecDef Esper spoke to his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, today by phone, the Pentagon said in a statement today. 
Tweeted Trump Wednesday morning: “We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute. Thank you!”
Said Trump to reporters Thursday at the White House: “I can tell you, I did speak to [Indian] Prime Minister [Narenda] Modi. He's not – he's not in a good mood about what's going on with China.” 
However, India’s The Hindu newspaper reports today from New Delhi, “There has been no recent contact between PM Modi and President Trump. The last conversation between them was on 4 April 2020 on the subject of Hydroxychloroquine,” according to government officials reportedly “taken by surprise by the U.S. President’s comments.” 
And in response to that Wednesday tweet, India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that India and China were already “engaged with the Chinese side to peacefully resolve the issue.”
China’s foreign ministry said today there’s “no need for a third party in [that] border dispute with India,” Reuters reports from Beijing.
One last thing from India: Monkeys "attacked a medical official and snatched away blood samples of patients who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus," Reuters reports today from the north-central part of the country, in a city called Meerut. “Authorities said they were not clear if the monkeys had spilled the blood samples, but people living near the leafy campus feared further spread of the virus if the monkeys carried the samples into residential areas.” 
BTW: Nobody seems to know if monkeys can contract the virus from infected blood; but this report certainly has a rather scifi feeling… 

The U.S. Space Force just released another recruiting video, and it seems to stretch the truth again, noted space policy expert Brian Weeden on Twitter Thursday.
And don’t look now, but North Korea just aired a new segment promoting its national space program, Pyongyang-watcher Chad O’Carroll flagged this morning.

Weekend entertainment alert:Space Force” has arrived to Netflix — though several reviews were not exactly stellar.

And finally this week: Learn how the U.S. Civil War was portrayed in Japan back in 1879, via historian David Fedman. It’s a pretty fascinating story from author Kanagaki Robun with some gorgeous illustrations by Kobayashi Eitaku. 
How did he find out about it? The story/illustrations were “digitized by the good folks at the Waseda University Library,” Fedman writes. More to all that, here.

Have a safe weekend, everyone. And we’ll see you again on Monday!