This step will highlight U.S. failed efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic: Maps of new confirmed coronavirus cases on each side of the Atlantic are moving in exactly the opposite direction. Openings in Europe could still have the same painful effect as in Florida, Texas and Arizona. But European states have generally imposed earlier, firmer locks than in the United States, and wearing masks is not the polarized issue that is here.
If that happens, the EU ruling will be another personal disgrace to President Donald Trump for his perverted pandemic management. The president often explodes at spotlights. But since it pretty much ignores the Covid-19 crisis in the U.S., it could let this slip. In addition, as the White House has already pointed out, European entry into the United States has already been suspended.
The shortage of American tourists will harm the closed European tourism economy. Millions bring their dollars across the Atlantic every year, attracted by the history, cuisine and ambiance of the continent. Italy, France, Germany and Spain greet most Americans, according to EU data. But until the two-way flow between the Old and New Worlds is restored, the noises of adoration of visitors to European cathedrals and museums who are not sure some of them have heard American lithe will disappear.
See you next year, hopefully.
“Oh God, don’t make a phone call”
What has Trump learned about drones, after hundreds of “highly classified” phone calls and negotiations with foreign leaders? According to, according to months of reporting for CNN Washington veteran reporter Carl Bernstein
, whose government sources say there is little evidence that Trump has become more competent in practice. Instead, officials say the president still refuses to read pre-call briefings, personally stepping up to strong members like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and insulting female leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel as “stupid” and weak.
Among the revelations: Erdogan’s call time was so perfect that some employees wondered if he had access to Trump’s personal schedule. And Trump’s deployment of Merkel was “so unusual” that special measures had to be taken in Berlin to ensure that the specific contents of the call remained secret, a German official said. No wonder employees grit their teeth when the president’s fingers follow the phone.
Spies who like spotlights
For an intelligence service that should operate in the shadows, the Russian GRU seems to be attracting a lot of headlines. The GRU – formally known as the General Staff Directorate – has long existed accused the West
orchestrating rude and high-profile attacks, including hacking Democratic Party email accounts during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the 2018 nerve agent attack in Salisbury, England.
Now the spy agency is back in the spotlight, following reports that U.S. intelligence services have arrested GRU operatives offered monetary incentives to the Taliban to kill American and British troops in Afghanistan
But it is unusual that the alleged operation could clash with Russia’s own stated goal of mating warring parties in Afghanistan.
Russia has nurtured contacts with the Taliban and other warring parties in Afghanistan as a way to influence results in a region it considers its strategic backyard. “It has long been known that there have been Russian contacts with the Taliban and at least a little cover-up of relations with advantages as protection techniques,” says Laurel Miller, program director for Asia with the International Crisis Group.
However, she added, the operation of placing awards on U.S. troops would be far more provocative and a “different thing” than her typical behavior. “It’s in conflict with what Russian official policy is,” she said. In other words, the alleged GRU operation aimed at U.S. and coalition troops could have a backlash: potentially disrupt U.S. support for the withdrawal or perhaps trigger new sanctions on Russia.
Still, the agency has a reputation for audacity – and has acted seemingly opportunistically or independently of official policy before. Andrew Weiss, Vice President of Carnegie Endowment Studies for International Peace
, points out that the GRU is aggressively conducting operations that cause it to drop out of diplomacy.
Intelligence experts say the Salisbury poisoning – which led Bellingcat’s investigative department to expose alleged GRU operatives through open source research – showed a pattern of recklessness and overt brutality rather than a covert approach to spyraft. And that sent a message to the enemies of the GRU.
“It was a pattern we saw many times in Ukraine,” Weiss said, referring to Russian intelligence activities there. “The Kremlin is hardly a well-oiled machine, but from time to time, Putin – whether he denies harsh Russian crimes or throws a security blanket at his security plant – does little to improve Russia’s international image.” – Writes CNN’s Nathan Hodge from London at the time
Trump says he was never informed of the alleged GRU scheme. Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper, Democratic House President Nancy Pelosi replied: “If they had such intelligence, they should inform the president. Why not? Because they know it makes him very unhappy, and all roads for him lead to Putin” – a phrase that has previously used Trump’s scandals surrounding meddling in Ukraine and Russia.
Actually, intelligence about the apparent conspiracy appeared early in one of Trump’s daily reports
this year, a U.S. official with direct knowledge also told CNN on Monday – and that it was considered serious enough for National Security Council staff to meet to discuss “possible response options,” including sanctions, if the intelligence service develops.
“If I could build a wall around us … I would”
Trump is not the only American leader itching to build a wall. In light of the large increase in coronavirus cases across the United States, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday that he would not mind a wall just for his region. “We lived through hell in this state to get to where we are,” he said, referring to New Jersey’s battle with Covid-19. “Honestly, I would never have thought I would utter these words, but if I manage to build a wall around us or around our end, I would. But we can’t, so we have to rely on personal responsibility and right behavior, common sense for the common good.” “Visitors out of state now must be quarantined for 14 days
after arriving in New Jersey.