Trump has been hesitant to invoke the Defense Production Act for medical gear. But he's already used it hundreds of thousands of times for weapons and bombs.

As The New York Times reports:

Invoking the Defense Production Act is hardly a rare occurrence. As recently as last summer, the Department of Defense used it to obtain rare earth metals needed to build lasers, jet engines and armored vehicles.

The Defense Department estimates that it has used the law’s powers 300,000 times a year. The Department of Homeland Security — including its subsidiary, FEMA — placed more than 1,000 so-called rated orders in 2018, often for hurricane and other disaster response and recovery efforts, according to a report submitted to Congress in 2019 by a committee of federal agencies formed to plan for the effective use of the law.

The Defense Production Act essentially empowers the government to enact a kind of centralized economic planning. While they can't take over private companies, they can direct those companies to prioritize certain manufacturing needs, or oversee distribution of products. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, with the country facing a shortage of personal protective equipment, it could be used to speed up production for things like N95 masks and ventilators. The government could essentially commandeer manufacturing lines to make sure that all the necessary individual parts are being produced and then moved in a timely manner to a place where they could then be assembled and distributed.

As Reuters described it in March:

A White House official confirmed that the administration was exploring the use of the law to spur manufacturing of protective gear. Both the DHS official and the White House requested anonymity to discuss the issue.

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Electric vehicle makers serving up customer location data to China on a silver platter

There's been quite a bit of bad ink surrounding Tesla electric vehicles this year: delays in production, growing rumors about subpar customer service, former employees blowing the whistle on dangerous, indifferent working conditions in Tesla assembly plants and logistical woes to name a few. According to The Washington Post, Tesla owners in China can add in-car state surveillance to the list.

Apparently, the Chinese government has demanded that Tesla vehicles purchased in China send a steady stream of information concerning the vehicle's whereabouts and who knows what else to the Chinese government, in real-time. It's some greasy, invasive bullshit that comes at a time when China, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, has been cracking down on dissent, privacy and freedoms in the country.

At the very least, Tesla isn't alone: other makers of electric vehicles are being forced to make their customers' information available to the Chinese government as well.

From The Washington Post:

More than 200 manufacturers, including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Mitsubishi and U.S.-listed electric vehicle start-up NIO, transmit position information and dozens of other data points to government-backed monitoring centers, The Associated Press has found. Generally, it happens without car owners’ knowledge.

The automakers say they are merely complying with local laws, which apply only to alternative energy vehicles. Chinese officials say the data is used for analytics to improve public safety, facilitate industrial development and infrastructure planning, and to prevent fraud in subsidy programs.

But other countries that are major markets for electronic vehicles — the United States, Japan, across Europe — do not collect this kind of real-time data.

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General Motors recalls 1.4 million older cars over engine fires sparked by oil leaks

Auto maker General Motors today announced a recall of some 1.4 million cars in which a known oil leak problem can cause engine fires. All of the affected vehicles are over 10 years old, and the oldest were model year 1997. Read the rest