Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Matt Gluck
Tuesday, December 29, 2020, 5:47 PM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday rejected Democrats’ attempt to swiftly increase direct stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000, reports Politico. McConnell’s decision comes after the House of Representatives voted Monday evening to boost the payments to $2,000.

In a case concerning material related to President Trump’s International Hotel, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Tuesday ruled 2-1 that legislators can seek help from the courts in enforcing the seven-member rule—a law which enables any seven members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to force the executive branch to release records related to the committee’s mandate.

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday accused the Trump administration of withholding information pertaining to significant national security issues, according to the Washington Post.

On Monday, a federal judge in Georgia directed two counties to reverse a decision that would preclude over 4,000 voters from participating in the upcoming Senate runoff elections, writes Politico. More than 99 percent of the registrations the counties sought to invalidate were in Muscogee County, which Biden won by a significant margin in the presidential election. The judge, Leslie Abrams Gardner, is the sister of former gubernatorial candidate and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams.

The Russian government opened a new criminal case against prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny, according to Deutsche Welle. Russian investigators allege Navalny fraudulently used public donations for his personal benefit. Navalny claims—with support from several Western nations—that the Kremlin in August attempted to poison and murder him with a Novichok nerve agent.

The European Union on Tuesday called on China to release from detention the citizen journalist, Zhang Zhan, who questioned the Chinese government’s handling of the initial coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, reports France24. The EU also demanded that China release 12 Hong Kong activists the government detained at sea. These calls come after the EU’s member states greenlighted an investment agreement with Beijing on Monday.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA)—a watchdog authority—said that it likely will be unable to approve in January the coronavirus vaccine jointly developed by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, reports Reuters.

The Washington Post chronicled the evolution of life in Afghanistan under Taliban control. The report reveals that the Taliban “remains rooted in an extreme interpretation of Islamic law” at odds with the Afghan government.

A powerful earthquake in Croatia left seven dead southwest of the capital on Tuesday and displaced many others, reports the Associated Press. This is the second earthquake to strike the country in as many days.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared the annual edition of the Ask Us Anything Lawfare Podcast, in which Lawfare contributors answered questions from the Lawfare community.

Yasmina Abouzzohour discussed the implications for Morocco of its partial normalization of relations with Israel.

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk, which covered Chinese propaganda and the role of bicycles in Chinese society, among other topics.

Lester Munson shared the latest episode of Fault Lines, which featured a discussion with Megan Jaffer, a founding member of the Amazing Women of the Intelligence Community (AWIC), about the senior women in the Intelligence community.

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