February 4, 2021

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National Security

Russia

President Biden stated today, “We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interests and our people, and we will be more effective in dealing with Russia when we work in coalition and coordination with other like-minded partners.” Comment: The Biden Administration continues to review Russian related issues and are coming under increasing pressure to implement sanctions. Sanctions against specific government officials and associated Russian oligarchs appear the most effective means to effectively pressure the Putin-led Russian government. (Source: White House and 14 February 2021 POTUS speech at the State Department)

Myanmar

The U.S. National Security Advisor (NSA), Jake Sullivan, stated today the Biden Administration would consider using an executive order and targeted sanctions against the coup leaders. Comment: Myanmar is the first international incident for the Biden administration and will set the precedent for administration actions to future international crises. (Source: Department of State and the White House)

Saudi Arabia/Yemen

The Biden Administration announced today the end to support Saudi Arabian offensive operations in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is the United States’ largest foreign military sales (FMS) customer, with more than $100 billion in active FMS cases.The Administration stated this decision will not impact military counterterror operations against Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. NSA Jake Sullivan also stated the President will talk about the United States playing a more active and engaged role in the diplomacy to bring an end to the conflict in Yemen, and that will include the naming of a special envoy. Comment: These decisions will affect future U.S. defense military sales and could set a precedent in the operational use of FMS military equipment and armaments against foreign adversaries. (Source: The White House and Department of State)

Environment

Arctic Climate Change New Science

Between September 2019 and October 2020, The Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate, a consortium of over 17 nations, conducted extensive research on the physical, chemical, and biological profiles of the Arctic. This research will become available in 2021 offering unique insights and scientific perspective on climate change, sea ice forecasting, and weather/climate prediction. (Source: Information provided by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSL, Boulder, Colorado, USA, from their Web site at http://psl.noaa.gov/)

Lyme Disease Distribution in the United States

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in North America, with an estimated 300,000 cases annually in the United States. North–south differences in tick host-seeking behavior can affect the number of tick bites, potentially resulting in fewer humans being bitten. Minimal tick infestation of small mammals in the south results from strong selective attachment to lizards such as skinks (which are inefficient reservoirs for Lyme spirochetes) in the southern states. In the case of Lyme disease, a primary reservoir host in the northeastern U.S. is the common white-footed mouse. (Source: USGS https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001066, published 28 January 2021) 

The Coronavirus Pandemic

Contact Tracing

The success of a case investigation and COVID-19 contact tracing program hinges on a community’s level of participation. For many community members, this may be the first time they’ve engaged with public health personnel. Jurisdictions will need to communicate clearly with the public to generate an understanding and acceptance of case investigation and contact tracing as an important way to protect from future potential infections. Comment: Chronically underfunded and under-resourced local health departments will face significant challenges in promoting and developing effective nation-wide contact tracing community protocols. (Source CDC: Building Community Support)

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