There’s a new scandal nipping at the heels of Donald Trump’s favorite Postal Service bureaucrat, Louis DeJoy. And – bad news for him – it involves the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Meanwhile, a United Nations report from Libya reveals that, possibly for the first time, a drone powered by artificial intelligence selected, pursued and attacked human targets – all on its own. That’ll be enough about the wonders of technology, thanks.
And lastly, the Biden administration is stepping up US shipments of coronavirus vaccines to foreign countries in a big way. It’s an overdue but welcome measure to fight the virus in places where it’s still spreading out of control.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
He’s one of Trump’s last holdovers, but maybe not for long. The Washington Post reports that the FBI is investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in connection with campaign fundraising activity involving his former business. FBI agents in recent weeks interviewed current and former employees of DeJoy and the business, asking questions about political contributions and company activities. Prosecutors also issued a subpoena to DeJoy himself. A DeJoy spokesman confirmed the investigation but insisted DeJoy had not knowingly violated any laws. The inquiries could signal legal peril for the controversial head of the nation’s mail service – though DeJoy has not been charged with any crimes. Asked yesterday whether President Joe Biden believed DeJoy should step down, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would leave the process to the Department of Justice.
The Post says DeJoy – who was appointed to run the Postal Service by its board of governors last May – has been dogged by controversy for almost his entire time in office. Soon after starting in the job, he imposed cost-cutting moves that mail carriers blamed for creating backlogs across the country. Democrats accused the prominent GOP fundraiser, who personally gave more than $1.1 million to Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican
Party, of trying to undermine his own organization because of Trump’s distrust of mail-in voting. And they were totally right about that. But it seems it’ll be other, previously hidden misdeeds that bring down this dastardly saboteur. Hey, whatever does the trick.
UN Report: AI Drone Attacked Humans
This preview of the next Terminator movie comes from the New York Times. A military drone that attacked soldiers during a battle in Libya’s civil war last year may have done so without human control, according to a recent report commissioned by the United Nations. The drone, which the report described as a lethal autonomous weapons systems, was powered by artificial intelligence. It was used by forces backed by the government based in Tripoli, the capital, against enemy militia fighters as they ran away from rocket attacks. The fighters were hunted down and remotely engaged by the drone, according to the report. It did not say whether there were any casualties or injuries. The weapons systems, it said, were "programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect a true fire, forget and find capability.: The Kargu-2 was built by STM, a defense company based in Turkey.
The Times says the report has been sent to a UN sanctions committee for review. The drone, a Kargu-2, was used as soldiers tried to flee. Once in retreat, they were subject to continual harassment from the drone, according to the report, which was written by the UN Panel of Experts on Libya. Zachary Kallenborn, a researcher who studies drone warfare at the University of Maryland, said the report suggested that for the first time, a weapons systems with artificial intelligence capability operated autonomously to find and attack humans. What a landmark. Oh boy.
Biden Boosts Overseas Vaccine Shipments
This global pandemic update comes from the Associated Press. President Biden announced yesterday that the US will donate a first tranche of twenty five million doses of surplus vaccine overseas through the UN-backed Covax program. The donation promises infusions for South and Central America, Asia, Africa and others at a time of glaring shortages abroad and more than ample supplies at home. The doses mark a substantial – and immediate – boost to the lagging Covax effort, which to date has shared just seventy six million doses with needy countries. The announcement came just hours after World Health Organization officials in Africa made a new plea for vaccine sharing because of an alarming situation on the continent, where shipments have ground to a near halt while virus cases have spiked.
The AP says that overall, the White House has announced plans to share eighty million doses globally by the end of June. Of the first nineteen million donated through Covax, approximately six million doses will go to South and Central America, seven million to Asia and five million to Africa. The remaining six million in the initial distribution will be directed to US allies and partners. In a statement, Biden said, "As long as this pandemic is raging anywhere in the world, the American people will still be vulnerable. And the United States is committed to bringing the same urgency to international vaccination efforts that we have demonstrated at home.". Remember, this isn’t over until it’s over everywhere.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
The Guardian reports that the Ethiopian government has brushed aside international calls for a ceasefire in the province of Tigray, saying its forces will soon eliminate all armed opposition. The UN said earlier this week that more than ninety percent of people in Tigray need emergency food aid. Between the starvation and the atrocities, it’s a true horrorshow.
ABC News reports that workers at a South Dakota meatpacking plant that became a coronavirus hotspot last year are considering a strike after contract negotiations between Smithfield Foods and the union have stalled. The Sioux Falls chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union said workers have risked their health and lives throughout the pandemic, arguing the company should do more for its employees. Who can argue?
According to Politico, federal prosecutors are examining whether Representative Matt Gaetz obstructed justice during a phone call he had with a witness in the sex-crimes investigation of the Florida congressman. The obstruction inquiry stems from a phone call the witness had with Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend. At some point during the conversation, the ex-girlfriend patched Gaetz into the call. Awkward!
The AP reports that George P. Bush this week launched his next political move: a run for Texas attorney general in 2022. Bush, who has served as Texas’ land commissioner since 2015, is the son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. He is the last of the Bush family still in public office. Now that’s worth a good clap.
AM QUICKIE - JUNE 4, 2021
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Corey Pein
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn