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mikenov on Twitter: RT @MoscowTimes: President Vladimir Putin, 68, said that he will “definitely” receive the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine “as soon as it’s po…

President Vladimir Putin, 68, said that he will “definitely” receive the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine “as soon as it’s possible” for his age range during his annual press conference Thursday…

Retweeted by

Michael Novakhov (mikenov)
on Thursday, December 17th, 2020 8:31pm

16 likes, 6 retweets

mikenov on Twitter

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mikenov on Twitter: The News And Times: 3:27 PM 12/17/2020 – Audio Posts: Michael Novakhov……

The News And Times: 3:27 PM 12/17/2020 – Audio Posts: Michael Novakhov……

mikenov on Twitter

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Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (30 sites): The News And Times: 3:27 PM 12/17/2020 – Audio Posts: Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠

3:27 PM 12/17/2020 – Audio Posts: Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠michaelnovakhov-sharednewslinks.comRecent Posts – Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠




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Saved Stories – None: Technical Difficulties of Contact Tracing

On Dec. 14, the United States administered the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine to health care workers. The U.S. government has set an aggressive timeline aimed at vaccinating the majority of Americans by June 2021. The end is in sight, but we still have a long way to go. Controlling the spread of the pandemic in the intervening months remains an urgent priority. Currently, many states are still chasing the promise of coronavirus exposure notification apps. Last week, California rolled out CA Notify, joining 18 other states as well as Guam and the District of Columbia in deploying the Exposure Notification System developed by Apple and Google (Apple | Google ENS). But it is essential to recognize that the inherent technical limitations mean that contract-tracing apps, at best, play a relatively small public health role and, at worst, risk doing more harm than good.

Effective exposure notification tools must minimize both false positives and false negatives. 

In mid-October, thousands of English and Welsh citizens using a National Health Service (NHS) app built with the Apple | Google ENS received phantom alerts that they had potentially been exposed to the coronavirus. While the NHS later fixed the bug, the incident caused wide-scale confusion, fear and frustration. These sorts of false positives are not harmless. They can overburden limited testing capacity, as concerned citizens seek unnecessary tests. And false positives increase the likelihood users will ignore future exposure warnings and thus fail to obtain needed testing.

False negatives are also problematic. A false negative occurs when a person who was exposed to the coronavirus does not receive a notification. If asymptomatic and unaware of a possible infection, the individual could spread the virus further. Medical experts have dubbed such oblivious asymptomatic transmission “the Achilles’ heel” of the pandemic, especially as the holiday season strains social distancing compliance. Contract-tracing apps that do not alert people of actual exposure are not assisting in the larger public health response and may create a false sense of security among individuals who use them. 

A digital contact-tracing tool that doesn’t sufficiently minimize false positives and false negatives poses real risks. As more and more states implement this technology in the final months of the pandemic—a period public health experts warn will be the most difficult and deadly yet—we must understand the accuracy of the underlying technology. Unfortunately, Bluetooth technology simply cannot provide location information that is sufficiently granular or consistent to produce reliable digital contact-tracing apps.

Most digital contact-tracing apps rely on Bluetooth low energy, rather than GPS, technology. Early in the pandemic, location tracking based on smartphones’ GPS technology was proposed as a potential aid to contact tracing. For example, projects showing the possible spread of the virus by tracking the movements of college students during spring break gave the impression that individual locations could be tracked using the same GPS technology. But while GPS tracking on phones can track students dispersing after spring break, it is not accurate enough for the precise measurements needed in contact tracing. Contact tracing requires a resolution that can identify co-location within 6 feet (approximately 2 meters) for a minimal duration of time (currently 15 minutes). But GPS doesn’t function at all in some buildings, including the kinds of indoor spaces where contacts are the most likely to cause viral spread. And the resolution of even optimally functioning GPS in a smartphone is only 7 to 13 meters in an urban environment. GPS accuracy is also affected by factors such as time of day, time of year and WiFi signal strength. Ultimately, phone GPS accuracy is two to three times lower than what would be needed for effective contact tracing.

Most mobile contract-tracing apps have attempted to avoid the shortcoming of GPS by using the Bluetooth networking present in phones. Bluetooth is a near-field networking technology and thus would seem more appropriate for the finer-grained location information necessary for this kind of application. The problem is that even Bluetooth likely doesn’t provide the granularity required by digital contact tracing to estimate distance.

To begin, Bluetooth does not measure distance directly. Instead, the Apple | Google ENS uses the simple idea that a signal becomes weaker the farther away it is. Therefore, one can use the attenuation, or reduction in signal, to infer distance. A weak received signal strength indicator (RSSI), as approximated by the power measurement of dB, would mean that you are farther away; a strong RSSI indicates you are closer. While conceptually simple, this method is far from simple in practice. 

RSSI does not provide a clear and consistent measure of distance for a variety of reasons. It naturally fluctuates by as much as 5 dB even in controlled settings. It also fluctuates by device; a weak RSSI could be caused by the phone emitting a weak signal, or the other phone not having a sensitive receiver. In tuning their recently released TraceTogether app, Singapore researchers found that devices varied by as much as 20 dB in highly controlled settings due to different Bluetooth hardware, antenna layout, and even operating system configurations such as battery saving features. A difference of 20 dB translates roughly to a factor of 10 in terms of distance measured. In practice, that could be the difference between measuring 1 meter and 10 meters.

Apple | Google ENS can tune the algorithm based on these known variations of supported devices. Apple and Google explained that they can even extend calibrations to currently unsupported devices based on averaging associated devices. However, the companies themselves note that this is “a very coarse method of calibration” intended to serve as a “stopgap” until data from more devices is available. Apple and Google provide a confidence level of low, medium or high for each calibration. Of the nearly 12,000 devices in the most recent calibration file, 90 percent are listed as low confidence.

Most importantly, RSSI fluctuates significantly depending on real-world situations. Bluetooth low energy signals, which are a type of radio wave, can absorb into or reflect off of various surroundings. For instance, a person’s body can absorb Bluetooth radio signals, making the signal look much weaker and therefore that the devices are much farther away than they are. Therefore, a person simply rotating their body can alter the signal strength by as much as 20 dB. Changing the position of a phone in a purse just 1 meter away from another phone can also alter the signal strength by 10-20 dB. Even the presence of carpet and furniture could make the phones seem farther apart than they are. Signal absorption can therefore increase the level of false negatives since the ENS would not register that a person came in contact with an infected person.

These real-world fluctuations can also increase the incidence of false positives. Especially in indoor settings, signals can reflect off of metal and other reflective surfaces, making them appear much stronger and therefore much closer. Signals could even reflect off of wet pavement. In replicating a subway car, researchers found that the RSSI increased as the phone moved from 2 meters to 4 meters away. Therefore, the ENS would register that the people were getting closer when in reality they were moving farther apart.

Bluetooth signals can also propagate easily through certain types of walls. While signals have a difficult time passing through blockwork or cement walls, they easily pass through stud walls. Stud walls are generally used to separate rooms, whereas blockwork is generally used to separate adjacent houses and apartments. Therefore, the risk of a false positive may be low among neighbors, but much higher for individuals in office spaces. RSSI cannot capture the real-world conditions, such as a dividing wall, that drastically change the risk of infection.

Taking into account the fluctuations and real-world scenarios, RSSI is a difficult and inconsistent measurement. In trying to determine if two people came within 1.5 meters of one another, one study ultimately concluded that RSSI yields an error rate of around 50 percent, even when the two people were next to each other for 10 minutes. Apple and Google acknowledge in their documentation that “Attenuation is a very noisy proxy of distance.” If a contract-tracing app cannot reliably determine whether you were within 1 meter or 10 meters of an infected person, it cannot be anything more than a marginal public health tool.

On top of the difficult task of approximating distance from Bluetooth, there is the challenge of configuring the app. The Apple | Google ENS takes into account several different factors, such as distance and time, in calculating someone’s exposure risk value (ERV) as measured by meaningful exposure minutes (MEMs). The ENS then determines what level of MEMs triggers a notification. Newer versions of the app allow for state public health authorities to modify the exposure thresholds based on things like exposure to an infected individual on the first day of symptoms versus 14 days after the onset of symptoms. But these thresholds necessarily incorporate distance and whether the contact was immediate, near, medium or other.

Apple’s example defines “immediate” as less than 40 dB, “near” as between 40 dB and 53 dB, “medium” as between 53 dB and 60 dB, and “other” (that is,  far away) as greater than 60 dB. 

Even though state public health authorities can customize threshold Bluetooth attenuations, Apple’s example reveals the granularity necessary for reliably calculating someone’s exposure risk. Apple uses intervals of just 7 dB to set critical distance categories. Only 20 dB separates a serious “immediate” exposure from the “other” exposure that is supposedly far enough away so as not to be factored into the calculation. However, something as minor as the positioning of a phone could result in a change of 20 dB.

The benefit of the customization model is that it allows state authorities to decide whether to err on the side of false negatives or false positives. A number of epidemiologists believe setting conservative estimates—and thus reducing the incidence of false positives, though increasing the incidence of false negatives—is the better approach. In discussing the Swiss app—set to notify someone within 2 meters of an infected person for at least 15 minutes—epidemiologist Marcel Salanthé commented that “if somebody gets an exposure notification, we will feel damn sure it’s actually been a contact.” But considering the fluctuations of Bluetooth’s precision as a distance proxy in real-world scenarios, even that statement appears overly confident.

It is tempting to presume that any measures to improve contact tracing are worth pursuing. After all, if even a few asymptomatic individuals are alerted to their risk of infection, that’s a good thing. But in a resource-constrained environment, it is critical to evaluate the entire picture, which includes the kind of false positive episodes that occurred in the U.K. Even if well intentioned, measures that risk increasing public confusion and government distrust should be approached with extreme caution. Unfortunately, a digital notification system that presents a high number of false positives or false negatives threatens to do just that. As Bluetooth technology currently stands, digital contact-tracing tools risk undermining rather than enhancing current contact-tracing efforts. Without more precise location data, it is best that we stick to the traditional tools of contact tracing for now.

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Saved Stories – None: The National Security Law Podcast: Trumplandia in the Twilight

Hey, we’re back on our weekly schedule! How ’bout that … now we’ll probably skip the next three, but hey, until then, we’ve got a quite a show, not to mention the launch of our holiday charity drive! What’s that all about? Well, it’s simple: give $5 or more to Casa Marianella, forward the emailed receipt that you get from them to (.org, not .com!), and you will be entered in a drawing. What drawing? Well, after January 15, we’ll pick one of the entries at random, and that person will be invited to join us (date to be determined jointly) to CO-HOST an episode with us! Do it! Do it! C’mon, do it!

What’s that? Oh, right. This week’s show actually talks about:

  • Barr out, Rosen in
  • The demise of the Ken Paxton (well, “Texas”) election suit
  • Electors doing their jobs, electors doing…something else
  • The “Safe Harbor” rule and justiciability of electoral slate challenges
  • The SolarWinds cybersecurity mess
  • TikTok v. Trump: The DC Circuit seems poised to accept TikTok’s IEEPA interpretation argument
  • The roadmap to closing GTMO under the Biden administration (well, we are speculating, but still…)
  • Did you know the Periodic Review Board authorized a GTMO transfer the other day? That’s 6 approved for transfer, out of 40 remaining overall.
  • Another trial judge for the 9/11 case…or one of the old ones is back.?
  • DOD ending support for CIA Title 50 operations?
  • The NDAA: veto or not?
  • If not, then here’s what Section 1702 does for Congressional oversight of “sensitive military cyber operations”
  • The Supreme Court’s Briggs decision: bad news for a certain podcast co-host
  • Is it just me, or is this least really long?
  • Frivolity: The Mandalorian of course. Or is it the Manladorian? (Google it)

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Saved Stories – None: Document: Joint Intelligence Community Statement on the SolarWinds Orion Cyber Incident

On Dec. 16, 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a joint statement, along with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, annoucing the formation of a Cyber Unified Coordination Group to lead a whole-of-government response to the cyber incident affecting SolarWinds Orion products. The full statement can be read here and below:

“Over the course of the past several days, the FBI, CISA, and ODNI have become aware of a significant and ongoing cybersecurity campaign. Pursuant to Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 41, the FBI, CISA, and ODNI have formed a Cyber Unified Coordination Group (UCG) to coordinate a whole-of-government response to this significant cyber incident. The UCG is intended to unify the individual efforts of these agencies as they focus on their separate responsibilities. This is a developing situation, and while we continue to work to understand the full extent of this campaign, we know this compromise has affected networks within the federal government.

As the lead for threat response, the FBI is investigating and gathering intelligence in order to attribute, pursue, and disrupt the responsible threat actors. The FBI is engaging with known and suspected victims and information gained through FBI’s efforts will provide indicators to network defenders and intelligence to our government partners to enable further action.

As the lead for asset response activities, CISA took immediate action and issued an Emergency Directive instructing federal civilian agencies to immediately disconnect or power down affected SolarWinds Orion products from their network. CISA remains in regular contact with our government, private sector and international partners, providing technical assistance upon request, and making needed information and resources available to help those affected quickly recover from this incident. CISA is engaging with our public and private stakeholders across the critical infrastructure community to ensure they understand their exposure and are taking steps to identify and mitigate any compromises.

As the lead for intelligence support and related activities, ODNI is helping to marshal all of the Intelligence Community’s relevant resources to support this effort and share information across the United States Government.”

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Saved Stories – None: Today’s Headlines and Commentary

A record 3,850 Americans died of the coronavirus yesterday, hospitalizations increased in the U.S. for the 19th consecutive day and a total of 232,255 new cases were reported, according to Reuters. 

With that grim backdrop, government advisers convened today to review the effectiveness of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, writes the Associated Press. The panel is widely expected to endorse the vaccine, paving the way for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve it for emergency use within hours or days. Both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines are most effective when people receive two doses a few weeks apart. However, Moderna’s vaccine  will be far easier to distribute, since it can be stored in regular freezers rather than the ultra-cold temperatures required by Pfizer’s. 

According to Politico, pharmacists have discovered that vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine contain more than the expected supply of doses. The vials were supposed to hold five doses, but they actually contain enough fluid for six or seven doses. The FDAsaid late yesterday afternoon that pharmacists can use these extra doses, which will potentially increase the nation’s vaccine supply by 40 percent. 

How did the U.S. government learn that foreign hackers breached at least twelve federal agencies, including the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security? Politico describes the timeline, which began with hackers infiltrating a top cybersecurity firm called FireEye and exploiting a vulnerability in SolarWinds’ management software to eventually gain access to government employees’ email accounts.  “The seriousness and duration of this attack demonstrate that we still have enormous and urgent work to do to defend our critical information and networks, that we must move quicker than our adversaries do to adapt,” wrote House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff in a statement.

French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for the coronavirus, reports France 24. His diagnosis has forced several world leaders to self-isolate after coming into contact with the French president. His busy schedule included a European Union summit in Brussels last week, a conference in Paris on Monday and a lunch with the Portugese prime minister on Wednesday. Macron also had to cancel an upcoming trip to Lebanon. 

Russia is banned from using its flag, name and anthem while its athletes compete in the next two Olympic Games or any other world sporting event, writes NPR. The World Anti-Doping Agency wanted a stiffer penalty for Russia, which systematically gave performance-enhancing drugs to athletes in violation of international anti-doping rules. Yet the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced the length of Russia’s suspension from four years to two, explaining that it wanted to encourage “the next generation of Russian athletes to participate in clean international sport.”  

In his annual press conference this morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied his involvement in the assassination attempt of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. “Who needs him anyway?” he laughed. “If we had really wanted, we’d have finished the job.”According to the Washington Post, Putin also refused to admit that Russian agents were responsible for hacking into U.S. government agencies, even imputing that the U.S. interfered in Russian affairs. He declined to say whether he would run for reelection when his term ends in 2024. 

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with Taliban leaders this week in Qatar to push them towards a peace deal with the Afghanistan government. Talks between the two parties faltered earlier this month, writes the Wall Street Journal, and Taliban violence is rising just as U.S. troops are withdrawing from the region. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of The Lawfare Podcast entitled “The ‘Disbarred’ Edition.” Benjamin Wittes, Tamara Cofman Wittes, Susan Hennessey and Shane Harris discussed the massive computer hacking of U.S. government agencies. 

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared an episode of the National Security Law Podcast entitled “Trumplandia in the Twilight.” They talked about the latest developments in the TikTok lawsuit, the Justice Department and the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Briggs

Lester Munson shared an episode of the Fault Lines podcast entitled “Trump’s Administration Wrapped.” Munson sat down with a group of experts—including Michael Gottlieb, former associate counsel to President Obama—to explore whether President Trump had significant foreign policy wins during his term. 

Robert Chesney discussed the three main questions raised by the U.S.’s capture of Cholo Abdi Abdullah, a member of the Somalian al-Shabaab terrorist group. 

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast featuring an interview with Alex Stamos, the former chief security officer at Facebook, about the implications of the European Union’s privacy legislation for sexual abusers.  

Jonathan G. Odom debunked a new Chinese talking point about U.S. policy in the South China Sea. 

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board

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Saved Stories – None: Early Edition: December 17, 2020

Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.

A curated guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was forced to cancel his State Department holiday reception with foreign ambassadors yesterday after being exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid-19, according to a State Department official and a diplomat who were invited to the private event. The name of the person Pompeo came into contact with has not been identified, nor have any details been confirmed about when he was exposed. A State Department spokesperson said that Pompeo would quarantine, adding “The secretary has been tested and is negative … He is being closely monitored by the department’s medical team.” William Maudlin reports for the Wall Street Journal.

Requests for President Trump to exercise his powers of clemency have flooded the West Wing, to the point that a spreadsheet has been created to track requests. “Because Trump has shown little interest in using the Justice Department’s Pardon Attorney system for assessing requests for executive clemency, petitioners are approaching the White House directly, calling or emailing senior adviser Jared Kushner, chief of staff Mark Meadows or White House counsel Pat Cipollone — when they can’t get ahold of Trump himself,” report Pamela Brown, Kevin Liptak and Jeremy Diamond for CNN.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) told a federal appeals court yesterday that he intends to re-authorize a subpoena to compel Don McGahn to testify in the next congressional term, stressing that McGahn’s testimony is “essential” to understanding a number of important issues related to the Justice Department and FBI, particularly as he was a key witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump. “Numerous questions and concerns remain unanswered regarding the President’s apparent interference with the activities and operations of these agencies,” Nadler said, adding, “Mr. McGahn’s testimony remains essential in the 117th Congress to inform the Committee’s understanding of these important issues so that it may properly consider legislative responses and other proposals to restore historical norms going forward … I expect to promptly reissue the Committee subpoena to Mr. McGahn to ensure this Committee’s litigation and corresponding legislative and oversight efforts continue uninterrupted.” Kyle Cheney reports for POLITICO.

If President-elect Joe Biden halts the construction of the Mexico border wall project when he takes office, he would save the country around $2.6 billion, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates reviewed by The Washington Post. “U.S. Army Corps commanders met with members of the Biden transition team last week to discuss the border wall project, Corps spokeswoman Raini Brunson said. She declined to comment on the estimates reviewed by The Post, referring additional questions to the president-elect’s office,” reports Josh Dawsey and Mick Miroff for the Washington Post.

Federal prosecutors are expected to soon unseal criminal charges against Abu Agila Mohammad Masud, a suspect in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing which killed 270 people, mainly Americans, in a flight from London to New York. Masud is alleged to have built the device that exploded on Pan Am Flight 103 as it flew over Lockerbie, Scotland. The Justice Department is reportedly planning extradition proceedings against Masud who is currently in Libyan custody. Sadie Gurman and Aruna Viswanatha report for the Wall Street Journal.

Ten state attorneys general yesterday filed a lawsuit against Google accusing it of entering a secret agreement in 2018 with Facebook in an effort to illegally stifle competition in the advertising technology market, with both technology companies colluding to fix prices and share the market for ads on websites and apps. Lead Nylen reports for POLITICO.

“Legislation to give federal judges the power to take down internet and social media posts containing personal information about them hit a stumbling block Wednesday, after a Republican senator insisted the measure be broadened to give similar protection to details about members of Congress,” reports Josh Gerstein for POLITICO.

Thomas Bossert, former homeland security adviser to Trump and deputy homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, writes in in an op-ed for the Washington Post that the magnitude of the ongoing attack by Russians responsible for the hacking operation on US federal agencies is “hard to overstate,” adding, “The logical conclusion is that we must act as if the Russian government has control of all the networks it has penetrated.” 


President-elect Joe Biden is set to choose Brenda Mallory, a longtime expert in environmental law and regulation, to lead the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality, according to several people close to the Biden transition team who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Lisa Friedman reports for the New York Times.

Two names have emerged as top potentials for Biden’s education secretary: Leslie T. Fenwick, dean emeritus of the Howard University School of Education and a professor of educational policy and leadership, and Miguel Cardona, the commissioner of schools in Connecticut, people familiar with the matter said. Laura Meckler and Valerie Strauss report for the Washington Post.

Although Senate Republican support for Biden’s victory has reached new heights, President Trump’s claims of voter fraud continue to be a focal point of debate in the Senate. A Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing yesterday, led by its soon-to-depart chair Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), revisited Trump’s claims of voter fraud and criticized the courts for throwing out the Trump campaign’s lawsuits on mere “technicalities,” warning that until their concerns are properly addresses, public trust and confidence in the election will not be restored. Karoun Demirjian reports for the Washington Post.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said today that he has “no doubt” the incoming Biden administration will rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, which Trump left May 2018  he also said that he expects the administration to remove US sanctions that are currently impacting on Iran’s economy. “I have no doubt that the heroic national resistance of Iran is going to compel the future U.S. government to bow … and the sanctions will be broken,” Rouhani said during a videoconference. His comments come after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei yesterday said that if U.S. sanctions “can be lifted in a correct, wise, Iranian-Islamic [and] dignified manner, this should be done.” Eric Cunningham reports for the Washington Post.


Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley this week met with Taliban negotiators in Doha, the second such meeting, in an effort to help assist ongoing peace settlement negotiations between the insurgent group and the Afghan government. Katie Bo Williams reports for Defense One.

The US yesterday imposed sanctions on Chinese and UAE companies over accusations that they supported the sale and export of Iranian petrochemical products by Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd, which was sanctioned by the US earlier this year. Daphne Psaledakis reports for Reuters.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said today that Turkey will not return its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, despite the US imposing sanctions on the country on Monday. Reuters reporting.

China failed to attend a scheduled virtual meeting with the US scheduled for Monday to Wednesday on aviation and maritime safety  a dialogue process that was established between the two countries’ militaries in a 1998 pact  prompting Adm. Phil Davidson, the commander for US Indo-Pacific Command, to rebuke China’s People’s Liberation Army, stating that the no-show was “another example that China does not honor its agreements, and this should serve as a reminder to all nations as they pursue agreements with China going forward.” Chun Han Wong reports for the Wall Street Journal.

The Treasury Department yesterday accused Vietnam and Switzerland of being currency manipulated, stating that both US trading partners have met all three criteria set out by Congress for determining when countries are preventing markets from setting their currency values, a 71-page report revealed. Tal Axelrod reports for The Hill.

The US and the UK yesterday signed an agreement on customs to ensure trade between the two countries continues to run smoothly after the UK finally leaves the EU. “This is an important agreement that ensures continuity post EU exit, and demonstrates the strength of the US-UK customs relationship,” British Treasury minister Jesse Norman said in a statement, adding, “This deal will allow us to continue to cooperate in combatting customs offences by sharing information and good practice, and provides the legal underpinning for schemes to ease trade flows for importers and exporters.” Reuters reporting.

The UN Security Council intends to discuss Western Sahara on Monday after Trump recently recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over a disputed region between the two African nations. Michell Nichols reports for Reuters.


The novel coronavirus has infected over 16.98 million and now killed over 307,000 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 74.34 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 1.651 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.

The US yesterday recorded the highest number of new coronavirus cases, more than 230,000, and the most Covid-19 deaths since the pandemic began, over 3,600. Jaclyn Diaz reports for NPR.

Lawmakers are reportedly closing in on a $900 billion Covid-19 relief bill which will include another round of stimulus payments. “The package under discussion was expected to include, along with direct checks, $300 a week in enhanced unemployment insurance, funding for vaccine distribution, schools, small businesses and health-care providers, rental assistance and other relief measures. Its size, at just under $900 billion, marked a compromise between the two parties’ stances: more than the roughly $500 billion Republicans had backed and less than the $2.4 trillion bill Democrats passed in the House earlier this year,” report Kristina Peterson and Andrew Duehren for the Wall Street Journal.

Paul Alexander, a former top Trump appointee and former Health and Human Services (HHS) senior adviser, repeatedly urged top officials at HHS and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to pursue a “herd immunity” strategy to the Covid-19 pandemic and allow millions of Americans to be infected by the virus, internal emails obtained by the House watchdog revealed. On July 4., Alexander wrote to HHS assistant secretary of public affairs Michael Caputo and six other senior officials that: “There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD.” Kristin Wilson, Daniella Diaz and Betsy Klein report for CNN.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed that the extra doses that can be squeezed out of vials of Pfizer’s vaccine can be used, after confusion increased among pharmacists, with some throwing away leftover vaccine in fear of violating FDA rules set last week. Sarah Owermohle reports for POLITICO.

President Trump will not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until it is recommended by the White House medical team, a White House official told CNN yesterday, with Vice President Mike Pence set to receive his vaccination tomorrow. Jim Acosta and Caroline Kelly report for CNN.

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to receive a coronavirus vaccine next week, with reports stating he will receive his shot in public. Jeff Zeleny and Kate Sullivan report for CNN.

The FDA vaccine-advisory panel will meet today and will likely recommend that the FDA authorize the emergency-use of the new Covid-19 vaccine from Moderna Inc. Thomas M. Burton and Peter Loftus report for the Wall Street Journal.

Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt, 51, yesterday tested positive for the virus, a department spokesperson confirmed, although he is not currently displaying any symptoms of the disease. Anthony Adragna reports for POLITICO.

French President Emmanuel Macron, 42, has tested positive for Covid-19, his office said today, after Macron recently started showing symptoms of the disease. Noemie Bisserbe reports for the Wall Street Journal.

A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the US is available at the New York Times.

US and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.

A state-by-state guide to lockdown measures and reopenings is provided by the New York Times.

Latest updates on the pandemic at The Guardian.

The post Early Edition: December 17, 2020 appeared first on Just Security.

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News and Music: 1:00 PM, December 17, 2020 – News Review

1:00 PM, December 17, 2020 – News Review

1:00 PM, December 17, 2020 – News Review

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Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (30 sites): The News And Times: 1:15 PM 12/17/2020 – Selected Articles – 250 » China carries G20 economic flag amid COVID-19 challenge

1:15 PM 12/17/2020 – Selected Articles – 250

» China carries G20 economic flag amid COVID-19 challenge – CGTN
» China’s treatment of Australia is a ‘sign of things to come’ for world, says John Bolton – Brisbane Times
» “Russian mafia” – Google News: Members Of Russian Mafia Arrested Throughout Spain – Euro Weekly News
» Michael Novakhov retweeted: Christopher Krebs, the former top cybersecurity official fired by President Trump, tells Republican-led Senate committee that it’s “dangerous” for elected officials to embrace false and baseless attacks on th
» Michael Novakhov retweeted: Neo-nazi shirts worn by Proud Boys supporters sold on Amazon…
» Billions Spent on U.S. Cyberdefenses Failed to Detect Giant Russian Hack…
» Police make arrests of Russian Mafia across Alicante, Madrid, Tarragona and Ibiza
» DEBKAfile: Khamenei: US enmity will not cease with Trump departure
» Fire breaks out at Brooklyn synagogue
» NPR News Now: NPR News: 12-16-2020 3PM ET
» Exclusive: Abducted Iranian dissident lured by ‘honeytrap’ via @YouTube
» Обновлённая стратегия кибербезопасности Евросоюза
» Jared Kushner-backed developer no longer buying historic Crenshaw Mall – Eater LA
» 14 Accomplices Found Guilty Of Aiding 2015 ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Attacks
» В Испании задержаны два десятка выходцев из стран СНГ – Россия 24
» The Brooklyn News: Bronx man posed as lawyer to scam grandparents out of ‘bail’ money: prosecutors
» The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico Collapses – The New York Times
» Путинский цугцванг: Кремль в нокауте? – Радио Свобода
» Americas region has nearly 31 million cases of COVID-19, 781,000 deaths- WHO official – Yahoo News
» Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: Fire breaks out at Brooklyn synagogue
» Member of Biden’s transition press corps tests positive for coronavirus
» DEBKAfile: Khamenei: US enmity will not cease with Trump departure
» “Russian mafia” – Google News: Members Of Russian Mafia Arrested Throughout Spain – Euro Weekly News
» Autoimmune condition biomarkers promote SARS-CoV-2 viral entry, study finds
» Trump asking about special prosecutor for Hunter Biden – Associated Press
» HHS Azar: Nursing home vaccinations start Monday
» “West Russia Putin” – Google News: Russian FM dismisses media reports about Navalny poisoning – WJXT News4JAX
» Russia News – Voice of America – English: US Military Personnel Get Coronavirus Vaccine
» “russia france” – Google News: Russian Foreign Minister Dismisses New Reports Kremlin Behind Navalny Poisoning – NBC 6 South Florida
» Heavy snowstorm takes aim at the Northeast
» 1st COVID-19 Vaccines At NYC Public Hospitals
» NYPD: Woman Shoved To The Ground, Dragged And Robbed In The Bronx
» How Dubai is making retirement easier for foreign nationals
» Берлин заказал вакцины от COVID-19 у шести производителей и ужесточил ограничения – Россия 24
» Совет Федерации одобрил законы о гарантии неприкосновенности для бывшего главы государства
» Ex-Houston cop allegedly points gun at man he thought was behind voter fraud
» Trump News – Mike Nova’s favorite articles on Inoreader: News: Cyberattacks contradict Russia’s foreign policy principles – Russian US Embassy – TASS 14/12/20 06:32 – Saved Stories In Brief
» Global Security Review – Autoimmune condition biomarkers promote SARS-CoV-2 viral entry, study finds
» VIRTUAL EVENT: Deal or No Deal: The Iran Nuclear Challenge
» Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s Miami reception could be mixed – Sports Grind Entertainment
» Audio Post – US agencies hacked in monthslong global cyberspying campaign – 9:07 AM 12/14/2020
» News: Cyberattacks contradict Russia’s foreign policy principles – Russian US Embassy – TASS 14/12/20 06:32 – Saved Stories In Brief
» 1:41 PM 12/14/2020 – Electoral College Meeting Monday To Formally Choose Joe Biden As Next President
» “The evidence points to COVID-19 stemming from bats, not from animals at a large industrial farm.” – WRONG: no such HARD Evidence exists. – M.N. Hypothetically, the Infection can easily spread from mink to rats to humans, and possibly to pigs; and back in
» 9:30 AM 12/15/2020 – “The scale of the operation is still unknown but “is probably going to be one of the most consequential cyberattacks in US history … That’s the view from inside government …” | News – December 2020 – Selected Articles and Searches
» » FBI won’t ‘sidestep’ sexual misconduct claims, director says – KLFY – 15/12/20 14:41
» News Review In Brief – 7:20 AM 12/16/2020
» NPR News: 12-16-2020 10AM ET
» Michael Novakhov retweeted: Fire breaks out at Brooklyn synagogue
» Window on Eurasia — New Series: Turkey May Not Want Azerbaijan to Become Part of NATO, Russian Military Analyst Says
» Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow’s Organizations for Ties with Russian Speakers Abroad Part of FSB ‘Under Cover,’ Polyak Says
» NPR News Now: NPR News: 12-16-2020 8AM ET
» Bitcoin Reaches New Record High, Tops $20k For First Time
» Putin signs order requiring Russia officials to report digital currency holdings – CoinGeek
» Jewish left cries antisemitism to silence critics but ignores its prevalence in the Left
» FBI won’t ‘sidestep’ sexual misconduct claims, director says – KLFY
» Netanyahu to quarantine for the third time without contracting COVID-19 – The New Indian Express
» Israeli PM Netanyahu quarantines after COVID-19 contact – OrissaPOST
» Mink cull driven by COVID drives up fur prices
» Cuomo denies sexual harassment accusations
» As Vaccinations Begin, Mistrust Is A Major Hurdle In Some Communities | Stephanie Ruhle | MSNBC
» Итальянцы сдают Ордена Почётного легиона
» Футболиста Владимира Смородина убили приятели – Россия 24
» Навальный обвиняет ФСБ
» Durham probe making ‘excellent progress’: Sources
» First US Coronavirus Vaccines Administered in New York
» Driver attacked man at Hanukkah ceremony, police say
» De Blasio: We Need To Recognize That Another Full Shutdown May Be Coming | NBC News Now
» CNN investigation uncovers tailing of Alexey Navalny prior to poisoning
» Расследование об отравлении Навального: комментарий участника проекта «Новичок»
» Italians return French Legion awards after el-Sissi gets one – The Associated Press
» House Takes Historic Vote to Remove Cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act | Publications and Presentations
» Two shot outside corner bodega in Brooklyn
» Max Rose faces long road from Staten Island to Gracie Mansion
» 1. World from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): FOX News: California police officer delivers pizza after arresting delivery driver
» Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (126 sites): MintPress News: Netanyahu’s Days May Be Numbered, but a Cadre of Far-Right Fanatics Wait in the Wings
» Trump News TV from Michael_Novakhov (10 sites): FoxNewsChannel’s YouTube Videos: WATCH: Health care workers receive COVID-19 vaccine
» Trump News TV from Michael_Novakhov (10 sites): CBSNewsOnline’s YouTube Videos: Electoral College to formally vote for Joe Biden to become next president
» Electoral College Meeting Monday To Formally Choose Joe Biden As Next President – Yahoo News
» US hits NATO ally Turkey with sanctions over purchase of Russian air defense system – Yahoo News
» How to Turn General Austin Into Secretary Austin
» World: Facing Christmas lockdown, Germany says no singing in church, no mulled wine and no New Year’s fireworks
» World: Four years after it became a symbol of Europe’s failures, migrants are still stranded in Calais
» Merkel’s party to pick new head at online convention on Jan 16 – Devdiscourse
» Former aide accuses Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment
» Palestinian Authority resumes security partnership with Israel
» 50 meteors per hour | Skies light up during Geminid meteor shower in US
» NYC SHOOTINGS: Pair wounded in violent Brooklyn dispute, video shows Lower East Side assault – amNY
» Wintry mix kicks off work week for Connecticut ahead of Wednesday’s snowstorm – News 12 Connecticut
» Four injured in Gowanus shooting: NYPD • Brooklyn Paper – Brooklyn Paper
» Brooklyn man cuffed for stabbing man to death following dispute in local barber shop: NYPD – amNY
» Armed crook robs multiple EMS workers during fake 911 calls in Brooklyn – amNY
» U.S. blames Iran in abduction, death of ex-FBI agent Levinson – POLITICO
» The National Interest: Some Airlines Will Require Proof of Coronavirus Vaccination to Travel
» stories: Security: Trump sanctions two Iranian intelligence officers for the disappearance of Robert Levinson in 2007
» Defense One – All Content: Feds Race to Turn Off SolarWinds Products Amid Biggest Hack in Years
» Germany’s CureVac launches final trials for coronavirus vaccine – The Straits Times
» Germany and Denmark to cooperate on North and Baltic Sea energy islands – Recharge
» 1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites): stories: Security: South Sudan’s spy agency abuses prisoners, says rights group
» Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny may have been poisoned by a very bad Negroni, investigation suggests – The Week Magazine
» NPR News Now: NPR News: 12-14-2020 11AM ET
» Top stories – Google News: ‘New variant’ of coronavirus identified – Hancock – BBC News
» NYC SHOOTINGS: Deadly house party shooting in Brooklyn may be gang-related, cops say – amNY
» Seen On Video: Another Subway Rider Pushed Onto Tracks At Brooklyn Station – CBS New York
» Police looking for multiple suspects after 7 shot, 1 fatally, at a Sweet 16 party in Brooklyn – CNN
» 1 Woman Is Killed and 6 Others Are Wounded in Brooklyn Mass Shooting – The New York Times
» NYC daytime shooting victim in Brooklyn clinging to life – New York Daily News
» NYC SHOOTINGS: Four shot in Brooklyn Black Friday gunfire, perps sought for Bronx assault – amNY
» Girl, 14 months old, stabbed in Brooklyn home – New York Daily News
» Teen stabbed to death in Brooklyn – New York Daily News
» Residents say ‘squatter’ has taken over Brooklyn building to host loud parties – New York Daily News
» Brooklyn Lawmakers on the Move Dec. 7, 2020 – Kings County Politics
» 18-year-old boy found fatally stabbed in Brooklyn: NYPD – RADIO.COM
» Ghislaine Maxwell losing hair and weight at Brooklyn federal jail – New York Daily News
» Homeless man found dead on Brooklyn sidewalk – New York Daily News
» 24-year-old barbershop worker shot during attempted robbery in Brooklyn – RADIO.COM
» Deron Williams opens up about what went wrong with the Brooklyn Nets – New York Daily News
» Gunman robs EMTs responding to bogus 911 call in Brooklyn – RADIO.COM
» Business Owner Forced to Pay Fees for COVID-19 Violations – Spectrum News NY1
» Cops release video of FedEx driver being shot in Brooklyn – RADIO.COM
» EMS unit robbed in Brooklyn, lured with fake call – Fox News
» MISSING: NYPD search for Bronx girl, 15, and Brooklyn boy, 13 – RADIO.COM
» ‘He was a saint’: First U.S. Catholic cleric to die of COVID-19 remembered in Brooklyn – New York Daily News
» Four People Shot Outside Brooklyn Housing Complex: NYPD – NBC New York
» Four People Struck by Gunfire Outside Brooklyn Housing Complex: NYPD – NBC New York
» A fight for sunlight at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden – The Forward – Forward
» Two women dead in Brooklyn hit-and-run crash – Yahoo News
» Man, 37, stabbed to death during quarrel on NYC street – New York Daily News
» Trucks with first COVID-19 vaccine in US roll out – News 12 Brooklyn
» 2 women killed in hit-run crash in Brooklyn, police searching for 2 men – RADIO.COM
» “police officers shootings” – Google News: NYC SHOOTINGS: Eight men in the hospital as bullets fly in Brooklyn again – amNY
» “assange” – Google News: Top 10 world news: Brexit talks to continue, Aussie MP wants Trump to pardon Assange, more – WION
» Trump Seems To Acknowledge Biden Win, But He Won’t Concede – WTTW News
» Trump appoints flurry of allies as presidency winds down – The Associated Press
» Four People Stabbed, One Shot as Pro-Trump Protests Turn Violent – Slate
» The global effort to move Covid-19 vaccines has begun
» Before COVID, Jews were ready to unite against anti-Semitism – Sun Sentinel
» Bing: Michael Novakhov: Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: Déjà vu All Over …
» Israeli gymnasts win gold, bronze medals at European Championships
» Rabbit Run Community Arts Association now registering for winter session –
» N.J. weather: Here’s the latest on the tricky storm that could hit us with up to 18 inches of snow
» Israel-Morocco relations: Both sides hail ‘historic’ normalisation agreeent
» Cruising on the Nile: All aboard the boat that inspired Agatha Christie
» “Академик Лаврентьев” вернулся во Владивосток после 100 дней в океане – Россия 24
» В Петербурге ликвидировали сеть нелегальных казино – Россия 24
» Australia COVID vaccine caused false HIV tests
» UK microbiologist on AstraZeneca’s move to cooperate with Russia’s Sputnik V producers
» AstraZeneca to work on Covid vaccine combinations with Russia’s Sputnik V developers – CNBC
» AstraZeneca to work on Covid vaccine combinations with Russia’s Sputnik V developers – CNBC
» Headlines Review – 4:52 PM 12/10/2020: Decomposing mink in Denmark ‘may have contaminated groundwater’ | World news | The Guardian | mink – Google Search
» 3:17 AM 12/11/2020 – Covid-19 Likely in U.S. in Mid-December 2019, CDC Scientists Report – WSJ
» Report: 268,000 Israeli families pushed into extreme poverty during COVID crisis
» Iran is already stalking Israelis visiting the UAE. Mossad is bracing for the worst – Haaretz
» Cynthia McKinney: COVID Weaponized Against Europeans?
» New York Times report: Trump administration turned down additional doses of Pfizer vaccine
» YouTube radicalized the Christchurch shooter, New Zealand report concludes
» Most of California Locks Down Again as Coronavirus Strains Hospitals – The New York Times
» Disease X-19 Symptoms from Michael_Novakhov (16 sites): Google Alert – Coronavirus and skin: ‘Unpredictable pathogen’: New coronavirus study highlights severity of illness
» Friends or foes? Syrian refugees divided on fate of defectors –

The News And Times

Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (30 sites)