Live Free or Livelihood
March 24, 2020
“By traveling into the past, I enhance my grasp of the present.”
“Trust is the coin of the realm for creating the harmony, speed, and teamwork to achieve success at the lowest cost.”
― Jim Mattis
Marines: Made Because Of China
This week the Marine Corps will unveil its first major transformation in decades. The 10-year plan comes after years of classified US war games revealed China’s missile and naval forces in the western Pacific were outpacing American military advantages.
The Western Pacific Region covers a wide mix of countries in the Pacific, Oceania and parts of Asia. With a population of more than 1.7 billion, the region covers a vast area that stretches from China and Mongolia in the north to New Zealand in the south.
The Corps’s strategy is to reinvent themselves as a naval expeditionary force — by eliminating all their tanks, downsizing their aircraft fleet, and shrinking their total numbers from 189,000 to some 170,000. Marine Corps Commandant General David Berger notes that in terms of military capability: “If we did nothing, we would be passed [by China].”
Under the Trump administration all branches of the US military are undergoing major shifts. New fighting concepts and high-tech programs are being developed, and billions of dollars will be spent on what the Pentagon predicts will be an era of intensified competition with China and Russia. An example is the Air Force, which is developing a hypersonic missile that will travel five times the speed of sound; also being tested is the “loyal wingman” drone, an unmanned aircraft that can carry bombs and fly in formations with piloted planes.
The Pentagon’s $705 billion spending request for the 2021 fiscal year includes the largest research-and-development budget in 70 years: nearly $107 billion.
Fake Digital Trees: The Techopolies Become More Powerful
- Now that millions of people are being forced to work from home, reliance on services from the tech industry’s biggest companies is soaring. Amazon said it’s hiring 100,000 warehouse workers to keep up with surging demand. Facebook said traffic for video calling and messaging has exploded, while Microsoft said the numbers using its software for online collaboration had climbed almost 40 percent in a week.
- Box office sales at movie theaters were already suffering from the popularity of streaming services; now that theaters must close per government orders, Netflix and YouTube are gaining new audiences.
- Even Apple, the company once considered to be among the most at risk because of its dependence on Chinese factories and consumers, appears to be doing fine. Many of its factories are nearly back to normal, people are spending more time and money on its digital services, and it’s even releasing new gadgets.
- Communication tools like Zoom videoconferencing are now essential. On another note however, customers for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft, and property-rental sites like Airbnb, are vanishing. (NYT,CNBC)
- As Coronavirus Surveillance Escalates, Personal Privacy Plummets (NYT)
- ‘Zoombombing’: When Video Conferences Go Wrong (NYT)
The Taliban’s Dilemma: Zoombomb Or Real Bomb
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has chosen to make an unscheduled international flight at a time when face-to-face diplomacy has been reduced to a minimum, and his department has urged US citizens not to travel. This week’s meeting of foreign ministers from the G7 group of wealthy democracies will be held via teleconference, instead of the in-person gathering originally planned in Pittsburgh.
- Pompeo, who staked his diplomatic reputation on the fragile peace deal he signed last month with the Taliban, is now in Kabul trying to save it from unraveling. He spent nearly nine hours Monday in the Afghan capital, where he held meetings with the incumbent president, Ashraf Ghani, and his rival Abdullah Abdullah, who is disputing Ghani’s official victory in last year’s elections. Monday night he was expected to fly to Doha, where Taliban negotiators are based.
- Pompeo has been criticized for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic within his department. US diplomats complained about the lack of clear guidance on how to handle the crisis, as well as a lack of transparency over the extent of cases among the diplomatic corps.
- The first case at state department headquarters in Washington was confirmed Thursday. There’s also been criticism over delays in repatriating US citizens trapped abroad. (Guardian, ForeignPolicy)
- Video Chat With Taliban Keeps Afghan Peace Deal on Life Support (NYT, $)
Additional World News
- Travel – Five superpowers ruling the world in 2050 (BBC)
- ‘A manatee is worth more alive’: the mission to save Africa’s sea mammals (Guardian)
- The Plastic-Hunting Pirates of the Cornish Coast (NYT, $)
- For Children Fleeing War, a Tent Becomes a School (NYT, $)
- South Korea reports lowest number of new cases (BBC)
- Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro says coronavirus crisis is a media trick (Guardian)
- Swedish PM warned over ‘Russian roulette-style’ Covid-19 strategy (Guardian)
- Coronavirus: Pandemic is ‘accelerating’, WHO warns as cases pass 300,000 (BBC)
- Tokyo 2020: Olympics to be postponed until 2021, says IOC member (BBC) It definitely doesn’t seem like it’s happening this year.
- Life after lockdown: has China really beaten coronavirus? (Guardian)
- Coronavirus pandemic leading to huge drop in air pollution (Guardian)
- Warmer Weather May Slow, but Not Halt, Coronavirus (NYT)
Live Free or Livelihood
- After being criticized for a slow response to the coronavirus crisis, President Trump declared a national emergency and agreed to implement drastic measures. For one, the White House put in place guidelines for enforcing physical distancing and other measures that were to last 15 days — from March 16 to March 30. But conservatives have been warning about the danger to the economy such measures could cause, particularly politically.
- So in a tweet late Sunday night, Trump signaled he might be open to scaling back his efforts to combat the pandemic. Tweeting in all caps he wrote: “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. At the end of the 15-day period we will make a decision as to which way we want to go.”
- Earlier Sunday VP Mike Pence, head of the White House coronavirus taskforce, said the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would issue guidance on Monday meant to allow people already exposed to coronavirus to return to work sooner. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the most senior public health doctor on Trump’s coronavirus taskforce, is privately urging the president’s advisers and other Republicans not to roll back any restrictions, as that would hamper efforts to contain the virus and overwhelm hospitals.
- The US now has more than 39,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with more than 400 deaths. Nevertheless, Trump’s shift in tone could foreshadow a looming clash between a president alarmed by economic paralysis in an election year, and public health experts urging caution. (Guardian)
- Older people would rather die than let Covid-19 harm US economy – Texas official (Guardian)
- Livestream: Coronavirus News Conference At The White House (NPR)
- Trump Has Given Unusual Leeway to Fauci, but Aides Say He’s Losing His Patience (NYT, $)
- Talks Continue Over Coronavirus Financial Deal As Democrats Demand Changes (NPR)
- Coronavirus stimulus bill: Americans say bailouts must mean no layoffs (Vox)
- Restaurant Industry Faces A Sudden Collapse In Coronavirus Shutdowns (NPR)
- Trump talks himself up as ‘wartime president’ to lead America through a crisis (Guardian)
- As Natural Disasters Strike, a New Fear: Relief Shelters May Spread Virus (NYT)
Additional USA News
- Supreme Court Allows States To Virtually Eliminate The Insanity Defense (NPR)
- Former Staffers Sue Bloomberg Campaign, Alleging They Were Promised Pay Through Nov. (NPR)
- The Unseen Survivors of Thalidomide Want to Be Heard (NYT, $)
- Motivation: How to get it, keep it and use it, even during a pandemic when you may need it most (CNN)
- NASA expeditionary behaviors for productivity in confinement COVID19 (CNBC)
- And once your motivation is exhausted, spend your entertainment time wisely: 250 Best Movies on Amazon Prime Right Now (March 2020) (Rotten Tomatoes) Our recommendations from this list: The Killing, You Can Count On Me, True Grit, Big Night, Mission Impossible (Fallout), To Kill a Mockingbird, The Tillman Story, Platoon, Pi, & What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.
- Exclusive: Disney+ Sees Huge Subscription Spike As Homebound Audiences Clamor For Content (Forbes)
- The plan to turn half the world into a reserve for nature (BBC) If this means avoiding COVID-19 and impeding into areas where bats live, then this might not be a bad idea, COVID-19 could be interpreted as nature’s way of telling us to back off
- You won’t feel bad about grabbing the unused soap or shampoo after reading this: Hotel heists: not towels and hangers but framed art, TVs, a fireplace (Guardian)
- Don’t panic over your 401(k)! It’s time to emotionally distance from the markets | Suzanne McGee (Guardian)
“Passion is what makes life interesting, what ignites our soul, fuels our love and carries our friendships, stimulates our intellect, and pushes our limits… A passion for life is contagious and uplifting. Passion cuts both ways… Those that make you feel on top of the world are equally able to turn it upside down… In my life I want to create passion in my own life and with those I care for. I want to feel, experience and live every emotion. I will suffer through the bad for the heights of the good.” ― Pat Tillman
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