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The bipartisan House task force on America’s future defense is path-breaking

Late last month, a bipartisan congressional task force issued a timely report that, apart from purely security-oriented outlets, received far less media coverage than it deserved. Congressional bipartisanship has become virtually an oxymoron in the current political climate. Nevertheless, Republicans and Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee Task Force on the Future of Defense were able to come together to produce a serious, thought-provoking essay that focuses on implementing a defense strategy that is responsive to the threats that will confront America far into the future, indeed as far as the end of this century.

Many of the task force’s proposals have been outlined in previous studies and in congressional testimony. They include a greater focus on funding and developing advanced technologies and incorporating them into military systems and structures; concluding a new arms control agreement with Russia; and controlling the leakage of technology by expanding the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’s (CFIUS) purview and the scope of Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) legislation.

Similarly, as others have done, the report called for revitalizing — indeed, “modernizing” — America’s relationships with allies, partners and friends. It went even further, however, by calling on Washington to establish “new alliances to meet emerging threats.” Whether the United States can do so is an open question, not merely because Washington has walked away from a host of international agreements in the past several years, but also because states have become chary about formalizing alliance relationships. On the other hand, America certainly can deepen its political and military ties to friendly countries, in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, as it has done with Sweden, Finland and Singapore in recent years. 

The report recognizes that America’s security fundamentally depends on a civilian and military workforce that is open to innovation

1 PA County Remains In COVID-19 Red Zone: White House Task Force

PENNSYLVANIA — New coronavirus cases and test positivity rates have stabilized in Pennsylvania, the White House Coronavirus Task Force said this week in its latest state-level report.

Still, one county — Centre — remains in the coronavirus “red” zone. One is in the “orange” zone and five are in the “yellow” zone.

The task force’s state-level reports summarize coronavirus activity and offer recommendations to state leaders based on trends. Pennsylvania’s most recent report was dated Sept. 27.

The Center for Public Integrity has been collecting and disseminating the weekly reports, which are sent by the task force to governors around the country. The reports aren’t made public by the task force.

In addition to assessing recent data, the report makes recommendations for officials to follow as it responds to the pandemic.

The task force is recommending Penn State and Indiana University — where recent outbreaks have been reported — be “monitored closely.” Centre County, the sole red zone county, is home to Penn State’s University Park Campus.

RELATED: Coronavirus Spike At Penn State Alarms Top PA Health Officials

In the previous report issued Sept. 20, there were two Pennsylvania counties in the red zone. Counties in the red zone have reported more than 100 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents and a diagnostic test positivity result above 10 percent. Indiana County, previously red, is now in the yellow zone, the Sept. 27 report said.

Northumberland County is in the orange zone, which means it has reported between 51 and 100 new cases per 100,000 residents and a diagnostic test positivity result between 8 and 10 percent.

Counties in the yellow zone have reported between 10 and 50 new cases per 100,000 residents and a diagnostic test positivity result between 5 and 7.9 percent. In addition to Indiana, counties listed in

House GOP China task force releases recommendations

The House GOP’s China task force unveiled its full report laying out hundreds of recommendations and legislative suggestions to combat threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party on Wednesday. 

The report includes more than 400 policy recommendations to address issues ranging from national security concerns, human rights violations, problems with the supply chain, Beijing’s missteps in its handling of the pandemic and China’s overall expanding influence on the world stage.

The task force — which is made up of 15 GOP lawmakers who sit on 11 different committees — was initially slated to be bipartisan before Democrats ultimately opted out before its launch in May.

Republicans insisted the report is not politically motivated, even as President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Trump-Biden debate clash The Memo: Debate or debacle? Democrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate MORE has sought at every turn to tie Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from Trump-Biden debate clash The Memo: Debate or debacle? Democrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate MORE to China. The report is being released less than five weeks before Election Day.

“It’s not a Republican or Democrat report, it’s not a political exercise, it’s policy. And we hope it will be a blueprint for future Congresses,” Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) told The Hill in an interview. McCaul is the the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and chairman of the task force. 

“In fact, two-thirds of the legislative recommendations we make are bipartisan recommendations, some of which have already been passed in either House or Senate, and it deals with everything Chinese Communist Party related.” 

The report comes amid one of the lowest points in relations between the U.S. and China, with the two side clashing

White House Coronavirus Task Force Optimistic About CT

CONNECTICUT — Connecticut’s latest White House Coronavirus Task Force state report was optimistic about Connecticut’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, but recommended the state keep a close eye on infections connected to colleges and universities. The report was obtained by The Center for Public Integrity.

“Overall control of the epidemic remains good; Connecticut has seen a decrease in cases last week after 2 weeks of upticks,” the task force report authors wrote.

The state’s positive test rate was 1.6 percent last week, which was a 0.3 percent change drop from the previous week. The U.S. overall has a positive test rate of 4.3 percent.

The reported, dated Sept. 27 came before Connecticut’s Tuesday report which saw an increase in the number of people hospitalized. Gov. Ned Lamont said he believes Tuesday’s coronavirus metrics were a short-term issue.

The task force noted that there are outbreaks reported at colleges, including the University of Connecticut and Sacred Heart University.

“While the numbers of cases are modest, transmission is continuing. Sacred Heart reported 87 cases in the past 7 days, almost 9% of the state total,” the report authors wrote.

The task force was complimentary of Connecticut’s rules and guidelines to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

“Connecticut has done well with controlling spread in large part due to a well thought-out, gradated set of social distancing measures for communities based on transmission indicators. The careful, gradual relaxation in restrictions conditional on case stability is commended as is the continued restrictions on bars.”

Connecticut is scheduled to have its third reopening phase on Oct. 8. It’ll bring 75 percent capacity for indoor restaurants and greater capacity for commercial indoor and outdoor events for events like weddings.

The task force recommended that Connecticut use its share of the Abbott Labs rapid coronavirus test for

Trump plans mass events in Wisconsin where White House task force calls for social distancing.

Wisconsin is listed in the document as the state with the third-highest rate of new cases in the country, with 243 new cases per 100,000 people over the previous week, about 2.6 times greater than the national average. Ahead of Trump’s scheduled rally in Green Bay, the Bellin Health System said Tuesday that its hospital in that city is at 94 percent capacity as covid-19 continues to spike in the community.

“During the intense period of viral surge, large numbers of acutely infected individuals caused exponential growth in infections,” the task force report reads in a section about Wisconsin. “Although young adults are the most affected group currently, spread to other age groups is inevitable.”

The task force report, which is sent to the leaders of all 50 states and D.C., is distributed weekly with specific recommendations for curtailing the spread of the coronavirus, along with progress reports on testing and county-by-county assessments of the prevalence of the virus. The reports are not made public.

The debate over whether Trump should gather large crowds comes as the president faced off against his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, for the first presidential debate, offering sharply different opinions on whether public health recommendations against large crowds are justified.

During Tuesday’s debate, Trump defended his events as opportunities for his supporters to gather to hear him and claimed that there has been “no negative effect” from his rallies, even though health officials in Tulsa said a spike in covid-19 cases was “likely” sparked by an indoor Trump gathering in June.

The president also said he was “okay with masks” but falsely claimed that scientists are divided over their value. Health experts have said mask-wearing, hand-washing, social distancing and being careful about crowds currently make up the best defense against the virus.

Biden, by contrast,