the next step
April 10, 2020

Apple and Google are teaming up in a "rare partnership" that could help inform people if they've come into contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19, Time reports.

The companies are calling their nifty new program Contact Tracing, and both have stressed that the service is voluntary and will require users to explicitly opt-in. Using Bluetooth on the phones of consenting users, Contact Tracing would automatically track mobile devices and take note of who you come into close proximity with while you're out and about. It would then allow users who test positive for coronavirus to alert the phones of anyone who'd come near enough to them during a 14-day period to potentially have contracted the disease.

If everyone who used an Apple or Google device were to opt in to the program, some 3 billion users, or one third of the world's population, would be able to know if they'd been near another Contact Tracing user who was contagious. Health experts say a large-scale global contact tracing project of this sort will be especially important as governments begin to ease coronavirus restrictions, because such technology can potentially prevent further outbreaks and lockdowns. Such measures, in fact, are already being taken in certain countries, including South Korea.

Others, though, are critical of such a massive project that involves tracking users' locations and sharing, albeit anonymously, their health information. "The sheer amount of information made available by tracing apps will be tantalizing for power-hungry governments and data-hungry corporations to monopolize," cautioned The Atlantic recently. "A tracing app made necessary by the pandemic cannot become an indefinite surveillance system run by some occult government agency." Jeva Lange

April 3, 2020

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are already looking to figure out what went wrong with America's coronavirus response.

After saying Wednesday he was working on a bill establishing a COVID-19 investigation reminiscent of those after Pearl Harbor and 9/11, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) circulated a draft of that legislation on Friday. It would establish a bipartisan, bicameral commission to study the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future outbreaks, but doesn't have House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) support just yet, CNN's Manu Raju reports.

The legislation draft describes how COVID-19 could reveal "vulnerabilities to the national security of the United States, especially how prepared the United States would be for a biological attack." But even though Schiff said in a tweet that it's "not too early to conclude a bipartisan after-action review of this crisis will be necessary," Pelosi has indicated she's more focused on where money from the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package ends up. She's backing a House select committee to oversee CARES Act spending, with House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) as its chair, per CNN.

Also on Friday, Sen Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) asked the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general to investigate "mismanagement" regarding America's national stockpile of ventilators. Los Angeles recently said 170 ventilators it received from the federal government were broken, and reports have indicated that's true of many ventilators in the stockpile. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 15, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has officially announced the impeachment managers who will prosecute the case against President Trump.

Pelosi in a news conference Wednesday announced seven impeachment managers: Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Val Demings (D-Fla.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), and Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas).

Pelosi noted that this is Lofgren's third impeachment; as The New York Times reports, she was a House Judiciary Committee member during the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, and she helped in the drafting of the charges against former President Richard Nixon as a law student.

The House of Representatives is set to vote Wednesday on a resolution naming the impeachment managers, setting up the articles charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress to be transmitted to the Senate. The trial in the Senate is expected to begin next Tuesday, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Pelosi's naming of the impeachment managers comes a month after the articles of impeachment were passed in the House, and she argued Wednesday that "time has been our friend in all of this because it has yielded incriminating evidence." She also described Trump's impeachment as "an impeachment that will last forever." Brendan Morrow

November 21, 2019

Republicans are getting ready to pull the impeachment ball back into their court.

Within minutes of Thursday's impeachment hearings closing out two weeks of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who runs the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a letter. In it, Graham requested a bevvy of documents from the Obama administration, including any that involved Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden, and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Hunter Biden's work on the board of the Ukrainian company Burisma indirectly led to this whole impeachment inquiry, as the company was at one time under investigation by Ukraine's prosecutor general Viktor Shokin and Joe Biden later pushed Poroshenko for Shokin's firing. Graham spells this out in his letter, saying that he'd like to "answer questions regarding allegations" that Biden got Shokin fired to "end the investigation" into Burisma. So he's seeking "documents and communications" between Joe Biden and Poroshenko from the days they presumably talked about Shokin — widely viewed as corrupt and ineffective — as well as any documents from a meeting between a business partner of Hunter Biden's and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Graham's move directly contradicts what he told CNN's Manu Raju a few weeks ago: that investigating Hunter Biden wasn't within his committee's jurisdiction. So what's changed this time around? Well, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) just wrapped up impeachment hearings with what sounded like an endorsement of proceeding to the final step in the impeachment process: a trial in the Senate. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 3, 2018

Twelve Thai youth soccer team members trapped in a cave for more than a week have been found alive, but the boys and their coach could remain stuck for months before flooding recedes enough for them to be freed, Sky News reports.

The team became trapped on June 23 when flash floods hit while they were exploring the massive cave system; the group managed to survive by crowding onto a narrow ledge as the waters rose. The Thai military is considering sending at least four months worth of food to the team. The alternative is teaching the boys how to dive, but that poses its own risks. It took a group of cave diving experts days to reach the team, and many of the trapped boys are believed to not know how to swim, Axios reports.

"Although water levels have dropped, the diving conditions remain difficult and any attempt to dive the boys and their coach out will not be taken lightly because there are significant technical challenges and risks to consider," said the British Cave Rescue Council, which is assisting in the rescue. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads