The Pentagon will begin going back to normal, kinda sorta, starting Monday. The U.S. military’s Chief Management Officer Lisa Hershman made the call to “move the Pentagon Reservation to Phase One,” the Defense Department announced in a statement Thursday evening.
What that means:
- “Cloth face coverings are mandatory when 6-feet social distancing cannot be maintained.”
- “Social distancing of 6 feet is mandatory wherever possible, including in office workspaces.”
- “Gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people.”
- “Only mission essential personnel should be returning to workspaces.”
- “Personnel should stay home and notify their supervisor if their temperature is 100.4 degrees F or 38 degrees C.”
- “Limited food court choices will be available,” and five other conditions apply, which you can review here.
Many defense firms will be reimbursed for COVID-related expenses. Others are getting straight bailouts. Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber reports that five mid-tier defense companies are getting money to upgrade their production facilities as part of the Pentagon’s effort to shore up an industrial base hit hard by the pandemic. And DoD leaders are preparing to ask Congress for the money to fund lawmakers’ requirement that defense companies be compensated for keeping workers on the payroll amid idled productions lines, and more. Read, here. (Meanwhile, the Treasury Secretary is refusing to say who is getting $511 billion in taxpayer-based loans.)
The economic mood in the country is momentarily grim once again. The Dow lost 1,800 points— or almost 7%, which was the sharpest one-day drop in three months — on Thursday as rising coronavirus cases across the country “puncture[d] optimism that the economy can recover quickly,” AP reported.
However, “Everything is up this morning — stock indexes, overnight markets, oil prices,” according to Zacks.com.
Also rising: Coronavirus case counts in Texas, Arizona, Florida and 11 other states. And hospitalizations are rising across Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah, according to ABC News, reporting Thursday.
- Review the state-by-state stats for yourself via this robust tracker from the New York Times.
The Trump campaign is making rally attendees agree to not sue if they get the coronavirus from a Trump rally — the latest of which is scheduled for next Friday in Tulsa, Okla. Find the registration with the relevant legalese at bottom, here.
BTW: The U.S. accounts for 27% of coronavirus deaths around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracker; 113,862 Americans have died from COVID-related complications, the largest single portion of the world’s 422,062 known victims. Next comes the U.K., accounting for almost 10% of global deaths, followed closely by Brazil at 9.7%, then Italy at 8%.
Need to review CDC guidance? There’s advice for “running essential errands,” here; “mitigation strategies for communities” and neighborhoods, here; advice for folks living in close quarters, here; summer camp suggestions, here; travel outside the U.S., here — and more here.
From Defense One
Pentagon Starts Bailing Out Companies That have Lost Business Due to Coronavirus // Marcus Weisgerber: The Defense Department is sending millions of dollars to keep companies afloat, and more deals are expected.
US Will Send Ukraine Another $250M in Weapons, Gear and Other Aid // Patrick Tucker: The upcoming delivery will bring total counter-Russia aid to the Eastern European nation to $1.75 billion.
Milley's Chance to Right His ‘Mistake’ // Kevin Baron: The Joint Chiefs chairman now says he was wrong to walk with the president. Will he survive to push back a second time?
Global Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: SASC marks up NDAA; Lockheed’s new era; State Department wants your feedback, and more.
Lessons from Yemen’s Missile War // Ian Williams and Shaan Shaikh: After five years, hundreds of long- and short-range missiles fired, and more than 160 missile-defense intercepts, it’s time to take stock.
Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson. 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 1987, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Catch the full speech delivered by President Ronald Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin 33 years ago today, here.
Happening this weekend: POTUS speaks at West Point on Saturday. NBC News previews, here.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley reportedly discussed resigning after taking part of Trump’s photo op to hold a Bible — but Milley then decided against resigning, according to NBC News.
Said POTUS about Milley and Esper’s reservations in a Fox interview recorded Thursday: "If that's the way they feel, I think that's fine." Catch video of that exchange, preserved on Twitter this a.m. by Dave Brown of Politico, here.
One more thing: That glass pizza allegation from the South Carolina National Guard is looking pretty suspect, Andrew Beaujon of the Washingtonian reported Thursday after quite a bit of digging.
SASC’s $740 billion NDAA markup summary was released Thursday, and you can read over it here. Included in this year’s bill is a nearly $7 billion “Pacific Deterrence Initiative,” and “$44 million for vaccine and biotechnology research, another response to the pandemic,” according to Reuters.
Also included: The provision to rename Army bases that bear the names of Confederate generals.)
Now, of course, “the 2021 NDAA must be reconciled with a version of the bill from the Democratic-led House of Representatives before it can pass Congress and be sent for Republican President Donald Trump’s signature or veto.” A bit more from Reuters, here.
Big news in the drone world: “An international agreement keeps U.S.-made flying drones in the hands of very few nations. That is about to change,” Mike Stone of Reuters reports. The agreement is known as the Missile Technology Control Regime, or MTCR.
Says Global Business Editor Marcus Weisgerber: “Defense companies, including General Atomics and Northrop Grumman have wanted this for years.”
What’s going on here: “Sidestepping the accord would allow U.S. defense contractors General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc and Northrop Grumman Corp to break into new markets currently dominated by less sophisticated offerings from China and Israel, which do not participate in the MTCR,” Mike Stone writes.
Bigger picture: “Reinterpreting the MTCR is part of a broader Trump administration effort to sell more weapons overseas. It has overhauled a broad range of arms export regulations and removed the U.S. from international arms treaties including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty.” Continue reading, here.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says the ceasefire is helping, but more peace talks are needed. Here’s a writeup of Ghani’s remarks at a digital Atlantic Council event Thursday morning; you can also watch the video.
Microsoft and Amazon have decided to rescind police use of their facial recognition technology in the U.S. Amazon announced the decision Wednesday; Microsoft followed on Thursday.
Now today, Trump’s director of national intelligence is venting about the decisions on Twitter and getting an RT from POTUS.
Twitter says it will delete nearly 200,000 China-linked accounts pushing disinformation on many issues, including the coronavirus, the New York Times reported Thursday.
BTW: The NYTs reported this week on a lot of that activity — some 4,600 apparently China-linked accounts, here.
In other tech news, audio engineers built a “shield” to deflect the police’s sound cannons (known as Long Range Acoustic Devices, or LRADs). Now those engineers from New York City have released their research online here so others can make their own “shields.” Vice News can fill you in on all that, here.
“Pinks and greens” update. The U.S. Army’s World War II-era Service Green Uniform will become standard issue in 2021, Stars and Stripes reports.
Half of the National Security Council’s leaders are reportedly women, according to The Federalist. "Twelve of the 24 directorates are led by women now, including three of the six regional directorates that cover the world," says the article, which mentions five of them:
- “Dr. Deborah Birx is the physician and diplomat serving as head of the coronavirus response”;
- “Allison Hooker is the senior director in charge of Asia”;
- “Elizabeth Erin Walsh has been NSC’s senior director for African affairs”;
- “Sue J. Bai is deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy legal adviser to the NSC”;
- And “Julia Nesheiwat is the senior director for homeland security affairs.”
And finally this week: The secret squirrel that really wasn’t. Long story short: The former chief spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration made more than $4 million by convincing various businesses to pay him as a secret officer — largely because he convinced them “he was an undercover operative for the Central Intelligence Agency,” the Washington Post reported Thursday.
His name: Garrison Courtney, 44, of Tampa, Fla.
The agencies he apparently scammed include the DEA, the Navy, the Air Force, the Director of National Intelligence, the National Institutes of Health’s Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center, and more. This onion of a story gets worse, too — including lies about his Army service in the 90s. Continue reading, here.