Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Friday, February 19, 2021, 1:39 PM

During an address at the Munich Security Conference today, President Biden reaffirmed full U.S. commitment to NATO and warned that “democratic progress is under assault” in the U.S. and Europe, reports the Washington Post. Biden also called for multilateral cooperation on countering China. “We have to push back against the Chinese government’s economic abuses and coercion that undercut the foundations of the international economic system,” Biden said. “Everyone must play by the same rules.”

Global leaders also convened on a video call today for a Group of Seven (G7) meeting hosted by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, writes Bloomberg. Leaders focused mainly on the global pandemic response. They also discussed international taxation on digital giants, and French President Emmanuel Macron called on social media companies, including Facebook and Twitter, to promote democratic values and protect free speech.

The Biden administration has formally offered to join European nations in restarting nuclear talks with Iran, according to the New York Times. It remains unclear whether Tehran will agree to come to the table, although people familiar with the internal conversations said it is likely that Iran will accept.

Biden will authorize broader disaster relief for Texas amid the state’s unprecedented winter storm, writes NPR. The federal aid would be available for both immediate and long-term recovery efforts in the state.

China has acknowledged that the People’s Liberation Army suffered four soldier deaths during the June 2020 border clash with India, reports the Times. Although India said that 20 of its troops were killed during the skirmish, this marks Beijing’s first explicit admission of casualties on its side.

Tribal communities in the U.S. are pressing Biden for increased support to confront challenges posed by poverty and lack of healthcare resources, among other issues on native lands, writes the Times. “The Trump administration left us out in the cold when it came to the pandemic—all the federal aid that came as a result of the stimulus act, and other acts, throughout this year were meant to try to help entities deal with the pandemic, but we were left out in the cold,” said Tim Davis, the chairman of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation of Montana.

Facebook has taken steps to block the collection of sensitive data, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move follows a New York state investigation into Facebook’s use of personal information that was not authorized to be shared with the platform, such as data from personal health apps.

Russia is offering to share more than a billion doses of its vaccine with countries around the world, marking a sweeping diplomatic win for the Kremlin, writes the Times. So far, more than 50 countries have ordered doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. But while the vaccine may prove effective, production is lagging—leading many experts to question whether Moscow is promising to send more than it can supply at the expense of its own domestic vaccine distribution rollout.

The deadly winter storm that swept across the southern United States this week not only knocked out power and water for millions, it also presented a new challenge to protect threatened species in the region, reports the Washington Post. Since the extreme cold hit, a group from the Naval Air Base Corpus Christi in southeastern Texas has saved more than 1,100 sea turtles prone to freezing in frigid waters. The turtles are currently recovering in a facility at the military base.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Rohini Kurup explained why farmers are protesting in India, arguing that the demonstrations may be the largest challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strongman politics since he came into power in 2014.

Alexander Vindman argued that situational ethics, a dangerous dynamic in the military, drove Pentagon leaders’ decision to delay female officer promotions until Trump was out of office.

Canyon Brimhall and Mary Brooks discussed Congress’s cyber vulnerabilities and proposed reforms to shore up the Capitol’s digital systems.

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk, titled “Rethinking Industrial Policy… and Everything Else.”

Lyle J. Goldstein contended that the Biden administration should start over rather than build on the previous administration’s declassified Indo-Pacific strategy.

Jen Patja Howell shared this week’s episode of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth series in which Chinmayi Arun, a resident fellow at the Information Society Project at Yale, sat down to discuss the future of the internet in India with Quinta Jurecic and Evelyn Douek.

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