21 April 2020

Al-Qaeda’s South Asian Branch Gravitating Toward Kashmir

By: Animesh Roul

Almost six years after al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent’s (AQIS) formation as the regional subsidiary of the infamous transnational jihadist group, the organization is reportedly shifting its violent campaign to Kashmir and India. On March 21, in one of its key Urdu language magazines, AQIS claimed that the group would change the title of its long-running publication Nawa-i Afghan Jihad to Nawa-i Gazawatul Hind, signaling the geographical shift, mostly justifying the objectives behind its name and formation. The publication also devoted a whole chapter on jihad in Kashmir, announcing that the region will be the epicenter of AQIS’ jihadist campaign. Swiftly hosting all its propaganda materials on a web portal with the domain name of Gazawatul Hind, AQIS cleared the air about its aggressive future Indian-centric strategy.

Al-Qaeda’s South Asian affiliate is making inroads into Kashmir and India with this shift in focus, reinvigorating the so-called Gazawatul Hind campaign, or ‘final battle against India,’ referring to events leading to the Islamic apocalyptic war referenced in a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad. The discernable intention to gravitate toward the Kashmir theater and to shift to a more Indian-centric campaign came amid the United States-Taliban peace deal to end the more than 18-year conflict in Afghanistan. Operational ties between al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan remain a contentious issue. Over the past couple of decades the Taliban regime, officially titled Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, sheltered al-Qaeda’s leadership and foot soldiers. However, the Taliban has now agreed under the peace deal signed in Doha (Qatar) on February 29 to prevent any group or individual, including “al-Qaeda from using the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies” (Department of State, February 29).

Afghanistan: AQIS’ Graveyard

In Afghanistan, the Coronavirus Could Be Deadlier Than War

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Until recently, billboards around Kabul were emblazoned with a simple phrase: “Imagine Peace.” Now, they instruct people to wash their hands.

Afghan security forces weren’t only armed with guns when they rushed to the scene of a brutal massacre of Sikh worshippers by an Islamic State-affiliated gunman on March 25; they also wore protective masks and gloves. Dreams of an end to violence are as distant as ever because Afghanistan now faces a more imminent and potentially deadly threat than terrorism or even the Taliban: COVID-19.

As of April 16, Afghanistan had 840 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 30 deaths. If estimates released by the Ministry of Public Health are accurate, Afghanistan is heading for a catastrophe.

Our Pandemic Summer The fight against the coronavirus won’t be over when the U.S. reopens. Here’s how the nation must prepare itself

What a difference a few months can make. 

In January, the United States watched as the new coronavirus blazed through China and reached American shores. In February, hindered by an unexpected failure to roll out diagnostic tests and an administration that had denuded itself of scientific expertise, the nation sat largely idle while the pandemic spread within its borders. In March, as the virus launched several simultaneous assaults on a perilously stretched-thin health-care system, America finally sputtered into action, frantically closing offices, schools, and public spaces in a bid to cut off chains of transmission. Now, in April, as viral fevers surge through American hospitals and cabin fever grows in American homes, the U.S. has cemented itself as the new center of the pandemic—the country that should have been more prepared than any other, but that now has the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world. 

What will May bring? Or June? What happens as this seemingly interminable spring rolls into a precarious summer? When will things go back to normal? 

The options are limited. Early inaction left the U.S. with too many new cases, and just one recourse: Press a societal pause button to buy enough time for beleaguered hospitals to steel themselves for a sharp influx in patients. This physical-distancing strategy is working, but at such an economic cost that it can’t be sustained indefinitely. When restrictions relax, as they are set to do on April 30, the coronavirus will likely surge back, as it is now doing in Singapore, China, and other Asian states that had briefly restrained it.*

COVID-19 – Pandemic Preparedness

Andy Staniforth
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Western democracies, stunned by the speed of COVID-19 contamination, have had to come to terms with the emerging fact that they have been wrong-footed by a virus dispatched from an unregulated wet food market thousands of miles away.

The Coronavirus crisis has created a new genre of pandemic preparedness and front line health care professionals caught up in the horror of its consequences remain poorly equipped with limited stocks of personal protective equipment, representing an unforgivable breach of the duty of care owed to them by their senior leaders and government officials – a breach of trust between the citizen and the state only previously observed by ‘lesser’ nations.
Resource Allocation

In the UK, the availability of chemicals used in the formula of testing kits has prevented the expedient roll-out of large-scale virus testing programmes. In the United States, diminishing supplies of equipment are being sold and despatched to the state governor with the deepest pockets, and not necessarily where the need is greatest and more urgent. The current crisis is shining a light on the very worst aspects of capitalism, where life-saving equipment is preserved for the highest bidder. The scramble for medical supplies continues to be grossly inefficient as a global pandemic requires a global response which is non-existent.

What Have Epidemiologists Learned About the Coronavirus?

By Isaac Chotiner

Justin Lessler, a professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, models disease transmission, and has been studying the novel coronavirus. A month ago, as the first confirmed covid-19 deaths were occuring in the United States, I spoke with Lessler about some of the early findings about the disease. On Tuesday, I called Lessler again, to ask him how our understanding of covid-19 has evolved in the past month, and how epidemiologists have changed their views of the pandemic’s likely effects. In our latest conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed what we know about whether people who have been infected are now immune, the hope that warm summer weather will halt the disease’s spread, and why testing remains the only way to prevent further rounds of mass quarantines.

What sticks out to you the most, in terms of all the things we have learned in the past month?

One is something we have learned, which is that it appears that the social-distancing measures that we have been taking over the current period seem to be working in a lot of places. It’s a little early to say for sure, but hopefully the initial signals that maybe they’re working are an indication that they really are. In terms of what we haven’t learned, I think the amount of uncertainty that still remains on the true underlying burden is a bit disappointing. I had been hoping that we would have more of a sense of exactly how many infections there have been out there. I think that still remains the biggest unknown of the whole thing.

China Is Bargain Hunting—and Western Security Is at Risk

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On April 7, a Chinese company suffered a surprising setback in the United Kingdom. Following an uproar by British legislators, an arm of the Chinese state-owned investment firm China Reform had to abandon its bid to dominate Imagination, a leading British technology firm that makes smartphone chips. Even if that effort failed, others are likely to succeed.

That’s because many Western manufacturers of popular products will face financial uncertainty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, making them easy prey for Chinese companies, which are already on a corporate buying spree in the West.

Canyon Bridge, a Cayman Islands-based outfit that is majority-owned by China Reform, bought Imagination in 2017—but the U.K. government didn’t intervene. This month, however, when China Reform attempted to put four directors on Imagination’s board and thus seize control of the company, British members of Parliament rebelled; China Reform abandoned the attempt.

Why Chinese Embassies Have Embraced Aggressive Diplomacy

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Welcome to Foreign Policy’s weekly China Brief. The highlights this week: China tries to put out diplomatic fires as its embassies adopt an aggressive tone, new documents reveal Beijing’s critical delay in announcing its coronavirus outbreak, and China looks to gain more influence at the World Health Organization after a U.S. announcement. 

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China Grapples With Diplomatic Disasters

Beijing is trying to put out multiple diplomatic fires this week, as China discriminates against foreign residents amid the coronavirus pandemic and its embassies spread misinformation online. It faces the biggest crisis across Africa, after hundreds of African nationals, mainly from Nigeria, were expelled from their homes in Guangdong and banned from restaurants or shops. The discrimination has caused widespread outrage, including a rare joint complaint by around a dozen African countries. Anti-black racism in China is common, and it has grown more intense in recent years. China’s initial response to the protest was to deny the discrimination, though there have now been some attempts at conciliation.

Congress Seeks to Confront China With $6 Billion in New Defense Spending

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Amid rising U.S.-China tensions over the coronavirus pandemic, a bill introduced in Congress on Thursday would seek to create for the first time a dedicated defense fund to boost deterrence against China in the Pacific, allocating more than $6 billion for air and missile defense systems and new military construction in partner countries.

The proposal from the House Armed Services Committee’s top Republican, Rep. Mac Thornberry, reflects a growing bipartisan call for a more immediate and conventional solution to the threat from China by replicating Washington’s multiyear European Deterrence Initiative, another dedicated funding program. Since Russia invaded Ukraine and illegally annexed Crimea in 2014, the initiative has consumed $22 billion to increase military training, infrastructure, and rotational deployments on NATO’s eastern flank.

“If it worked so well there, why don’t we do it in what we are calling our ‘priority theater,’” Thornberry, of Texas, said in an interview Wednesday. “We just haven’t, in my view, fully put our money where our mouth is.”

Europe Joins U.S. Companies Moving Out Of China

Kenneth Rapoza

Make no mistake about it, the trade war is absolutely remapping global supply chains ... to the detriment of Chinese manufacturing.

The percentage of China-leaving businesses surveyed by quality control and supply chain auditor QIMA was 80% for American companies and 67% for those based in the European Union.

QIMA has more than just anecdotal evidence. Demand for their China-based audits dropped by 13% as mainland manufacturers are either losing their foreign clients faster due to costs associated with tariffs or are relocating part of their manufacturing out of China to avoid those tariffs.

European companies are less affected by the trade war because their countries have not slapped tariffs on Chinese imports. But QIMA thinks they have their own reasons to reduce their dependence on China manufacturing. Most are diversifying throughout southeast Asia and closer to home.

The Strategic Case for U.S. Climate Leadership How Americans Can Win With a Pro-Market Solution

By James A. Baker III, George P. Shultz, and Ted Halstead

In the United States, the case for greater action on climate change is typically made on environmental grounds. But there are equally compelling economic, geopolitical, and national security rationales for the United States to lead the world on climate policy. Even those who remain skeptical of the environmental urgency of the problem should recognize the overwhelming strategic advantages of U.S. climate action at home and abroad. 

Those who oppose greater U.S. engagement and ambition have legitimate concerns. These concerns tend to fall into two buckets. The first is economic: the chief worry is that global climate solutions could put the U.S. economy at a competitive disadvantage with its trading partners and reduce American living standards. The second set is geopolitical: some observers wonder why the United States should reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions if other countries won’t do their part. 

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Millennials Don’t Stand a Chance They’re facing a second once-in-a-lifetime downturn at a crucial moment.

Annie Lowrey

The Millennials entered the workforce during the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Saddled with debt, unable to accumulate wealth, and stuck in low-benefit, dead-end jobs, they never gained the financial security that their parents, grandparents, or even older siblings enjoyed. They are now entering their peak earning years in the midst of an economic cataclysm more severe than the Great Recession, near guaranteeing that they will be the first generation in modern American history to end up poorer than their parents.

It is too soon to know how the unfurling business-failure and unemployment crisis caused by this novel public-health crisis is hitting different age groups, or how much income and wealth each generation is losing; it is far too soon to know how different groups will rebound. But we do know that Millennials are vulnerable. They have smaller savings accounts than prior generations. They have less money invested. They own fewer houses to refinance or rent out or sell. They make less money, and are less likely to have benefits like paid sick leave. They have more than half a trillion dollars of student-loan debt to keep paying off, as well as hefty rent and child-care payments that keep coming due.

How Trump and Putin Weakened U.N. Bid for a Global Cease-Fire

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For several weeks, the United States and Russia have quietly opposed efforts by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and key Western allies to promote a sweeping global cease-fire aimed at urging all countries and armed groups in conflict to “silence the guns” and devote their attention to battling the coronavirus pandemic, according to interviews with several diplomatic sources.

Both Washington and Moscow have assured their counterparts that they favor cease-fires in a range of conflict zones, from Libya to Syria and Yemen. But both governments fear that a universal cease-fire proposed by the U.N. chief could potentially constrain their own efforts to mount what they consider legitimate counterterrorism operations overseas. The United States is also concerned that a blanket cease-fire could inhibit Israel’s ability to engage in military operations throughout the Middle East.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday announced progress in negotiations with the leaders of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council on its first resolution addressing the coronavirus pandemic.

The WHO Is Trump’s Latest Target in His COVID-19 Blame Game

Stewart M. Patrick 

For those still curious about the meaning of gaslighting, look no further than President Donald Trump’s verbal assault on the World Health Organization last week. In a flagrant attempt to divert attention from his own poor performance during the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump excoriated the WHO for alleged delays and dysfunction in its global response. Beyond its immediate details, the episode offered a textbook example of how conservative U.S. politicians curry favor with their sovereignty-minded constituencies by treating multilateral organizations as pinatas and scapegoats during crises.

To recap, the president unloaded on the WHO on April 7, first on Twitter and then in his daily coronavirus briefing. “The WHO really blew it,” Trump tweeted, blasting the “China centric” agency for offering “faulty recommendations” early in the crisis. “Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on,” he claimed. That afternoon he expanded his critique, falsely alleging that the WHO had called the initial Wuhan outbreak “no big deal.” “They called it wrong… they missed the call,” he continued. “And we’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO.”

Strategy in a ‘structural break’

By Richard P. Rumelt

During hard times, a structural break in the economy is an opportunity in disguise. To survive—and, eventually, to flourish—companies must learn to exploit it.

There is nothing like a crisis to clarify the mind. In suddenly volatile and different times, you must have a strategy. I don’t mean most of the things people call strategy—mission statements, audacious goals, three- to five-year budget plans. I mean a real strategy.

For many managers, the word has become a verbal tic. Business lingo has transformed marketing into marketing strategy, data processing into IT strategy, acquisitions into growth strategy. Cut prices and you have a low-price strategy. Equating strategy with success, audacity, or ambition creates still more confusion. A lot of people label anything that bears the CEO’s signature as strategic—a definition based on the decider’s pay grade, not the decision.

By strategy, I mean a cohesive response to a challenge. A real strategy is neither a document nor a forecast but rather an overall approach based on a diagnosis of a challenge. The most important element of a strategy is a coherent viewpoint about the forces at work, not a plan.

What’s happening?

FBI Official Warns Government Hackers Are Targetting Covid-19 Research

Senior FBI official warns foreign government hackers have compromised healthcare firms conducting research for Coronavirus treatments

A senior cybersecurity official with the FBI has warned that hackers working for foreign governments have compromised companies conducting vital research.

These compromised firms are said to be researching treatments for Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the Coronavirus, Reuters reported.

Last week both the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency and the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre warned that state-backed hackers and online criminals are exploiting the Coronavirus pandemic “for their own objectives.”

Geopolitics Of Health – OpEd

By Ali Hoxha*

In times of war (such as WWI) biological weapons served to defeat the enemy. In peacetime, gun wars were no longer considered conventional since today’s cyber wars became the new fashion in modern wars. It is no longer necessary neither profitable to provoke a war on a nuclear scale when society today lives in a parallel digital world where every human identity can be traced and revealed digitally through a computer.

Today’s free market economy can be easily compromised by hacking the network system of a multinational corporation. Cyber wars are the new electronic battlefield. The greatest harm for the economy today is achieved through non-conventional means. Alternative means of warfare have shaped the academic notion of international security. To understand how a country or a non-state entity dominates or influence the geopolitical landscape, involvement of non-conventional means should also be taken under loop.

Now we are facing a pandemic crisis with the rise of a virus that started in China and spread rapidly across the globe. Immediately, after the break of COVID 19 as a serious threat to human lives, the first action that world powers initiated was to accuse each other of calling the coronavirus a possible biological attack on humanity. Keeping a good image in the event of this crisis seemed to be more important than finding a mutual solution to the problem. Dwelling on those claims wouldn’t bring answers without sliding into the conspiracy field. Economy today is interconnected so any attack of this nature would cause a very wide range of damage. What we can answer for certain is how the escalation of global health crisis defines relationship between world powers and other minor actors within the global economy.

Rejection of Chinese success

Preparing for a Dark Future: Biological Warfare in the 21st Century

By Thomas G. Mahnken

News of the spread of COVID-19 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and the subsequent relief of its Commanding Officer has highlighted the tension that exists between maintaining military readiness and the need to safeguard the health of members of the armed forces in the face of a pandemic.

The disease has been a feature of war for the vast majority of human history – from the plague that ravaged Athens early in the Peloponnesian War, killing the Athenian strategos Pericles; to the diseases that European settlers brought with them to the New World, devastating local populations; to the host of tropical diseases that caused appalling casualties in the China-Burma-India and Southwest Pacific theaters in World War II. The fact that we were surprised by the emergence, growth, and spread of COVID-19 reflects the false conceit of 21st century life that we have “conquered” disease.

In fact, pandemics are but one class of low-probability but high-impact contingencies that we could face in the coming years, including an earthquake or other natural disaster in a major urban area, regime change in an important state, and the collapse of financial markets leading to a global depression. When I served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning between 2006 and 2009, we explored a series of such “shocks” as well as the role the Defense Department could play in responding to them as a way of helping the Department’s leaders address such contingencies. During my time in the Pentagon, we also held a series of wargames with members of Congress and their staff, governors of several states and their cabinets, and the government of Mexico, to explore in depth the consequences of a pandemic. Much of what we found then resonates with what we are experiencing now. On the one hand, the measures that individuals need to take to protect themselves against a virus such as COVID-19 are relatively straightforward. On the other hand, group dynamics, bureaucratic behavior, public policy, and economic forces make it difficult to implement measures that make sense on an individual level across a society, let along across countries. It was, and is, also clear that the Defense Department possesses medical, logistical, and command and control assets that are helpful in dealing with a disaster such as a pandemic. Even if not a surprise, the fact that pandemics of this scale are rare events has hindered preparation and response.

U.S. Security Policy in the Trump Era

When President Donald Trump entered office under an “America First” banner, it seemed to herald a new era of U.S. isolationism. After more than three years into his term, though, the shifts in America’s military engagements have been less dramatic. Though their numbers are down, U.S. troops are still stationed in Afghanistan—for now. And until recently, the Trump administration had left relatively unchanged the strategy against the Islamic State that it inherited from its predecessor.

Nevertheless, Trump’s isolationist instincts have come into regular tension with his closest advisers, many of whom espouse a more traditional view of American power projection. This was never clearer than in December 2018, when Trump ignored his aides and announced his decision to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, prompting then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other high-ranking officials to resign in protest. Trump subsequently softened his rhetoric, without definitively articulating a final policy, contributing to the sense of uncertainty over America’s security policymaking. The entire process was repeated in October 2019, only this time the decision triggered not resignations, but outrage among even Trump’s closest Republican supporters in Congress.

Recruits to America’s armed forces are not what they used to be

“For poor blacks and poor whites there was simply nothing like the Army,” wrote Charles Moskos, a military sociologist, in 1986, over a decade on from the abolition of the draft. The stereotypical grunt was proletarian cannon fodder: an unskilled young man, from the impoverished boondocks or inner city, driven to the recruiting office by desperation and the promise of self-betterment. “Take a look at the Marines—what you see is black faces, from the ghettos,” said Noam Chomsky in 1989. “Sometime in the Seventies, the American army shifted to a traditional mercenary army of the poor.”

If there was once some truth to that, it is now a myth, according to a new paper* published in the Journal of Strategic Studies. Its authors compared data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth from 1979 (those born between 1957 and 1964) and 1997 (born 1980-84), which involved thousands of subjects interviewed regularly year after year. In the first cohort, who came of age in the aftermath of Vietnam, those who enlisted did indeed have lower parental income and wealth than equivalent civilians.

Pentagon Worries Social Distancing Could Impede America’s Deterrent

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The U.S. military is chafing at social distancing guidelines for the coronavirus pandemic, in some cases ordering pilots and troops back to their posts, as the Defense Department grapples with a trade-off between war readiness and the health of service members. 

In the wake of the death of a crew member of the virus-stricken USS Theodore Roosevelt this week, Defense Secretary Mark Esper acknowledged that not all commanders would be able to follow the social distancing guidelines set out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even as the Pentagon chief said the agency’s stop-movement order would be extended beyond mid-May. 

Though the debate over the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which spilled out into the public after a warning from the Roosevelt’s skipper leaked in the San Francisco Chronicle this month, has taken center stage in the military’s response to the coronavirus, the idea of U.S. troops going back to barracks, ships, submarines, tanks, and other installations where the Pentagon stages and fights from close quarters has service members and families concerned for their health and safety. The military is heavily dependent on close quartering of troops to execute its missions, from bringing soldiers into barracks for basic training to crews aboard nuclear-capable stealth bombers. 

No, the Coronavirus Will Not Change the Global Order


How will the coronavirus pandemic reshape geopolitics? Many commentators predict the end of an era of globalization that has prospered under U.S. leadership since 1945. Some see a turning point at which China surpasses the United States as a global power. Certainly, there will be changes, but one should be wary of assuming that big causes have big effects.There will certainly be changes, but one should be wary of assuming that big causes have big effects. For example, the 1918-1919 flu pandemic killed more people than World War I, yet the lasting global changes that unfolded over the next two decades were a consequence of the war, not the disease.

Globalization—or interdependence across continents—is the result of changes in transportation and communication technology, and these are unlikely to cease. Some aspects of economic globalization such as trade will be curtailed but financial flows less so. And while economic globalization is influenced by the laws of governments, other aspects of globalization such as pandemics and climate change are determined more by the laws of biology and physics. Walls, weapons, and tariffs do not stop their transnational effects, though deep and persistent economic stagnation would slow them down.

Who’s lost their trunks?

Editor’s note: The Economist is making some of its most important coverage of the covid-19 pandemic freely available to readers of The Economist Today, our daily newsletter. To receive it, register here. For our coronavirus tracker and more coverage, see our hub

When bernie madoff owned up to a $65bn Ponzi scheme in December 2008, it was not out of guilt. He knew the game was up. Three months earlier Lehman Brothers had imploded. The market meltdown sent clients clamouring to withdraw from his funds, leaving them depleted with many investors still unpaid. American regulators had not spotted the fraud, despite a tip-off years earlier. It was not them that did for Mr Madoff, but recession.

The Intelligence Edge: Opportunities and Challenges from Emerging Technologies for U.S. Intelligence

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence have the potential to transform and empower the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) while simultaneously presenting unprecedented challenges from technologically capable adversaries.

These technologies can help expand, automate, and sharpen the collection and processing of intelligence, augment analysts’ ability to craft strategic and value-added analysis and insights, and enable the IC to better time, tailor, and target intelligence products for key decisionmakers.

U.S. rivals and adversaries are also moving swiftly to develop, field, and integrate these technologies into intelligence operations against the United States. In addition to competing with state rivals, the U.S. IC also must overcome its own bureaucratic, technical, and organizational hurdles to adopting and assimilating new technologies.

The CSIS Technology and Intelligence Task Force will work to identify near-term opportunities to integrate advanced technologies into the production of strategic intelligence and craft an action plan to overcome obstacles and implement change.


Google's fast-growing Meet video tool getting Zoom-like layout, Gmail link

Paresh Dave

OAKLAND, California (Reuters) - Google will allow business and education users on Gmail.com to directly take calls on its video conferencing tool Meet starting Thursday, a new feature being offered as the Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) unit seeks to capitalize on security and other concerns with rival services.

The integration of Meet with e-mail is the first of several features being launched ahead of schedule because of a surge in demand for video conferencing, Google vice president Javier Soltero told Reuters.

Meet, which is available only to schools, businesses and governments and is distinct from the consumer-focused Hangouts tool, has added daily users faster than any other Google service since January. Millions of institutions now are relying on Meet because of lockdowns associated with the coronavirus, the company said.

Other functionalities will be added later this month, Soltero said. Meet will offer a layout displaying up to 16 call participants at once, resembling a popular option on rival Zoom (ZM.O) that its users have compared to a grid in the opening sequence of American TV show “Brady Bunch.”

Inside the Wild Final Week of the Acting Navy Secretary

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How it all fell apart for Thomas Modly in seven days that included a two-plane, 50-hour trip to chastise a fired skipper to his sailors aboard a COVID-stricken aircraft carrier.

New details about Thomas Modly’s whirlwind final week as acting Navy secretary shed light on how the service’s civilian leader chose to spend his time as a global pandemic sidelined an aircraft carrier on a high-profile deployment. And they show that not one but two VIP business jets were scrambled from the mid-Atlantic to Guam in the wake of Modly’s decisions to fire the captain of USS Theodore Roosevelt, then fly to the ship and denigrate the former skipper to his crew.
Thursday, April 2

Modly decided to relieve Capt. Brett Crozier of command on the morning of April 2, when there were about 100 known cases of COVID-19 among the Roosevelt’s 4,865-member crew. 

Three days had passed since Washington woke to news that Crozier had sent a memo begging Navy leaders for more urgent help finding isolation accommodations ashore in Guam for the vast majority of his sailors, arguing that keeping them aboard the crowded ship was an “unnecessary risk.” The commanding officer had emailed it to about a dozen people in and out of his chain of command, and the memo had made its way to the press. Modly deemed this “extremely poor judgement,” considering the assistance the CO was already getting, including phone calls from the acting secretary and his staff. The secretary had even offered to fly to Guam, an offer Crozier had declined as a distraction.