The coronavirus, this invisible enemy, has become the most comprehensive security challenge NATO nations have faced — destroying their economies and paralyzing their societies in ways Russian military planners could only dream. This week, NATO’s defense ministers will convene an extraordinary meeting via secure videoconference to discuss the alliance’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Will NATO be able to step up?
Unfortunately, NATO got off to a slow start.
COVID-19 caught the alliance flat-footed and, like just about every government, caused a delayed response. U.S. leadership from the Trump administration was notably absent. Rather than galvanizing allies into action, U.S. officials initially signaled the crisis was not a NATO problem.
China and Russia filled the void, successfully pounding allied nations with propaganda and filling the information space with elaborate (if ephemeral) displays of delivering medical supplies and assistance while NATO scrambled to make up for lost time.
Criticism of Anthony Fauci from the right has picked up in recent days, with some conservatives calling for President Trump to dump the infectious disease expert after he made comments about how imposing social distancing rules earlier could have slowed the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States.
Fauci has become a national name with his regular presence at the daily coronavirus task force briefings and in other media appearances, and poll numbers show he’s trusted by a majority of Americans. It would set off a political storm if Trump were to sideline him in the middle of a pandemic.
Exxon Mobil Corp on Monday raised $9.5 billion in new debt, with the largest U.S. oil producer seeking to bolster its finances while debt markets remain open to new deals.
Exxon paid a lower price to borrow than it did in a similar debt deal almost four weeks ago, a sign of how investor confidence is gradually returning after a rout in energy prices and a stock market collapse fueled by the coronavirus outbreak.
Nevertheless, borrowing costs for Exxon were still higher than prior to the coronavirus outbreak.
India extended a lockdown for its 1.3 billion people until at least May 3 on Tuesday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned of economic sacrifices to save lives as the number of coronavirus cases crossed 10,000.
It is getting rough and tumble in mergers and acquisitions. Carlyle just threw a one-two punch at Pioneer Credit, an Australian debt collector that it agreed to buy in December. First, the private equity firm threatened to withdraw A$142 million ($91 million) of funding because of alleged defaults, which Pioneer denies.
Then, Carlyle cited breaches and material adverse changes to its A$120 million buyout. It gave its target five days to sort things out.
With all the doubt, Pioneer’s shares tumbled 56% on Tuesday. Pioneer reckons Carlyle is just using the pandemic to squeeze it.
Saudi Arabia’s pursuit of a unilateral cease-fire in Yemen reflects the kingdom’s dire economic and social crisis caused by the pandemic and the fall in oil prices. It’s not clear if the Houthis will accept the cease-fire, but it is certain that Yemen is completely unprepared for the outbreak of the virus in the poorest country in the world.
The Saudis announced a unilateral cease-fire last week after months of United Nations-brokered talks and direct contacts between the parties failed to produce a durable truce and a political settlement.
The Houthis want a complete lifting of the blockade of Yemen, the “siege,” as they call it.
IMF Executive Director Kristalina Georgieva issued a statement saying the IMF executive board approved the immediate debt service relief for 19 African countries, Afghanistan, Haiti, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan and Yemen.
“This provides grants to our poorest and most vulnerable members to cover their IMF debt obligations for an initial phase over the next six months and will help them channel more of their scarce financial resources towards vital emergency medical and other relief efforts,” Georgieva said.
The United States and its Asian allies regard North Korea as a grave security threat. North Korea has one of the world’s largest conventional military forces, which, combined with its missile and nuclear tests and aggressive rhetoric, has aroused concern worldwide. But world powers have been ineffective in slowing its path to acquire nuclear weapons.
While it remains among the poorest countries in the world, North Korea spends nearly a quarter of its gross domestic product (GDP) on its military, according to U.S. State Department estimates. Its brinkmanship will continue to test regional and international partnerships aimed at preserving stability and security. Recent U.S.-North Korea summits have deepened direct diplomacy.
But the negotiations so far demonstrate that the dismantling of North Korea’s arsenal will remain a lengthy and challenging process.
The COVID-enforced shift to “maximum telework” has forced the Defense Department to update its information technology so that more employees can work remotely — and push critical communications to the front lines faster.
“We are creating a much more robust, enhanced teleworking capability,” Defense Department Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday.
“What we’ve done is put a multiplier effect into the quantity, types of services, etc. There will be some permanency to what we have here, specifically more on the network side. We will also have created a base of teleworking equipment that we will be able to, in some cases, reuse for other purposes. But yes, there will be an enhanced teleworking capability that will be sustained at the end of COVID-19.”
A few years after I started working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), I joined the Computer Forensics Tool Testing (CFTT) program. Imagine how excited I was to learn that I was going to be so close to the kind of work I saw on TV! Soon after I started getting familiar with various tools in the lab, I was using CFTT’s methodology to test general computer forensics tools and mobile forensics tools. That’s the current focus of my research.
Let’s just pause here so I can elaborate a little about what I mean by general computer forensics tools and mobile forensics tools. General computer forensics tools are designed to analyze data mostly from computer hard drives. Mobile forensics tools are tailored to analyze data from different mobile devices including, but not limited to, cellphones and tablets.
In case you’re wondering, yes, mobile devices could also include SIM cards, SD cards, GPS units, smartwatches and even drones, but some of these are out of our scope right now.