Today's D Brief: 300M vaccinated by summer?; Manila wants money; VP’s nuclear football; Hackable earthquake trackers; And a bit more.
As many as 300 million Americans could be vaccinated from COVID-19 by this summer, President Biden said Thursday from the National Institutes of Health. And that’s seemingly pretty good for a country of 325 million people — more than 34 million of whom have already received one vaccine dose, according to the New York Times vaccination tracker.
- Are you eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine? NBC News put together this useful site for U.S. citizens of all 50 states to find out.
Said POTUS46 at NIH on Thursday: “Just this afternoon, we signed the final contracts for 100 million more Moderna and 100 million more Pfizer vaccines. And we’re also able to move up the delivery dates with an additional 200 million vaccines to the end of July — faster than we expected.”
What’s more, both Pfizer and Moderna agreed “to expedite delivery of 100 million doses, that were promised by the end of June, to deliver them by the end of May,” Biden said. “That’s a month faster. That means lives will be saved. That means we’re now on track to have enough supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July.”
Here are a few more recent vaccine-focused changes from this White House: "In just three weeks, [the NIH] deployed over 1,000 federal staff to vaccination sites around the country," said Biden. "To date, we’ve also provided $3 billion to 37 states and territories and tribes to bolster existing vaccination centers and create more of the centers” to administer vaccines, including using mobile units to reach underserved areas in the country. The White House has also asked retired doctors and nurses to help with vaccines.
The NFL also just opened its 30 stadiums for mass vaccination sites. “We’re going to target communities that have been the hardest hit,” Biden said, “and it will be staffed by our military,” as well as officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Agriculture.
Unimaginable toll: More Americans have died of COVID in the past 12 months (475,000 to date) than died in all four years of World War Two (418,500). “We’re on track to cross 500,000 dead Americans this next month,” Biden said Thursday. “We need everyone to mask up.”
From Defense One
Sensors That Track Earthquakes Are Hackable, Researchers Find // Patrick Tucker: A Greek team found they could interrupt and even falsify data.
AI-Powered Tools for Commanders Are a Top Priority for ‘Connect-Everything’ Effort // Patrick Tucker: DoD’s artificial-intelligence efforts are moving beyond just helping analysts spot things in video.
Only a Tiny Fraction of Sexual Assaults Against DoD Civilians Are Being Documented, GAO Says // Eric Katz, Government Executive: Over a recent half-decade, DoD recorded 357 cases of sexual assaults that involved civilian employees. But a survey of employees indicated that thousands may have occurred.
New Supercomputers Turbocharge Military Weather Forecasting // Brandi Vincent, Nextgov: Housed at Oak Ridge National Lab, the new forecasting tool is more than six times faster than its predecessor.
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 1946 and mere hours after he was honorably discharged, Black U.S. Army Sgt. Isaac Woodard was apprehended while in uniform and beaten in an alley by a white police chief and his officers in the town of Batesburg, S.C. Woodward was traveling on a Greyhound bus from Georgia’s Camp Gordon to his home in Winnsboro, S.C. The policemen’s attack permanently blinded Woodward; and for months, South Carolina officials refused to prosecute the case — that is, until President Harry Truman ordered a federal investigation the following September. But by November and after just 28 minutes of deliberation, an all-white jury acquitted the sheriff. Nineteen months later, President Truman became America’s first commander-in-chief to desegregate its military when he signed Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948.
Shakedown in Manila. Philippine President Rody Duterte seemed to suggest today that the United States must pay an unspecified amount of money if it wants to maintain elements of the American military on Philippine soil.
Duterte was inspecting his own troops in the capital city of Manila when he said, according to Reuters, “I’d like to put on notice if there is an American agent here: from now on, you want the Visiting Forces Agreement done? You have to pay. It is a shared responsibility, but your share of responsibility does not come free. After all, when the war breaks out we all pay.”
Background, via Reuters: “Duterte, a firebrand nationalist who openly disapproves of the long-standing U.S. military alliance, unilaterally cancelled the Visiting Force Agreement last year in an angry response to an ally being denied a U.S. visa. The withdrawal period has been twice extended, however, to create what Philippine officials say is a window for better terms to be agreed.” More here.
Big in Japan. A federal appeals court on Thursday cleared former U.S. special operators Michael Taylor and his son Peter Taylor for extradition to Japan over their alleged $1.3 million role in helping embattled former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn escape out of the country more than a year ago. That Thursday court decision now means the two American men “could be on a plane to Japan as soon as Friday, barring any last-minute legal intervention,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Quick reminder: “Ghosn was facing financial crime charges in Japan and living in a court-monitored house in Tokyo when he disappeared in late 2019. In a plot worthy of Hollywood, he took a bullet train 300 miles from Tokyo to Osaka, then was smuggled inside the huge box onto a waiting private jet.” (Learn more about that box from the BBC, here.)
In the Taylors’ defense, their lawyers “argued that the father-and-son duo didn’t commit a crime in Japan” since jumping bail isn’t a crime there. More at the Journal, here.
Did you know: the vice president has a nuclear football. Amid the previously unreleased video footage of the Capitol riot shown on Wednesday by House managers at Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, one moment caught the eye of nuclear-weapons experts: the heavy satchel carried by an Air Force officer following Mike Pence as the vice president was hustled away from violent demonstrators.
Wrote Slate’s Fred Kaplan, author of The Bomb: “After further research and talking with other former officials who were in (or close to) the nuclear chain of command, I have learned—to my surprise, since I’ve been studying nuclear issues for a few decades—that the vice president does move with his own Football.” Read on, here.
Weekend reading: Here are some fresh ideas about what the U.S. and its allies perhaps ought to do now when it comes to Yemen. It comes to us from Peter Salisbury of the Crisis Group, writing Thursday in the World Politics Review.
One big concern: “[M]aking sure the big war does not simply become a series of small wars,” he writes. In addition to vigorous engagement with the Saudis throughout the process, Salisbury advocates for “broad buy-in from a wide range of local actors, [because] quick wins will not bring long-term peace.”
Let us be clear: “A multistage process will likely be needed, with a cease-fire easing the humanitarian crisis and facilitating a return to political talks,” Salisbury argues. “If the Biden administration wants to succeed in Yemen, it will need to take the long view.” Read on, here.
Have a safe weekend, everyone. And we’ll see you again on Tuesday!