Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Friday, March 19, 2021, 3:36 PM

President Biden and Vice President Harris are expected to travel to Atlanta today to meet with Asian-American leaders in the city and discuss the nationwide increase in attacks targeting Asian-Americans and Pacific islanders, reports the New York Times. Eight individuals, six of them women of Asian descent, were killed in the shooting rampage that targeted three massage businesses in Atlanta on Mar. 16. The suspected gunman, Robert Aaron Long, has been charged with eight counts of murder.

According to the Wall Street Journal, anti-Asian hate crimes across more than a dozen U.S. cities increased by 149 percent in 2020. While officials continue their investigation into the Atlanta shooting, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a hearing on the trend of rising violence against Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities in the U.S. yesterday. During the hearing, Democratic Rep. Doris Matsui of California noted that the Atlanta massacre serves as “a horrific reminder of the fear and pain” that many Asian-Americans have felt since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Diplomatic conversations between Washington and Beijing will continue today in Alaska following a fiery start to the talks yesterday, in which both countries sharply criticized the others’ policies during an unusual broadcasted back-and-forth exchange, writes Reuters. China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi accused the U.S. of using “its military force and financial hegemony to carry out long-arm jurisdiction and suppress other countries,” while U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken contended that Washington has “deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber attacks on the United States [and] economic coercion of our allies.” Both sides accused their counterpart of violating diplomatic protocol by using too much time to deliver opening remarks.

China’s government will restrict the use of Tesla vehicles by military staff and employees of several state-owned companies, reports the Wall Street Journal. Chinese officials claim that data collected by the cars, such as images recorded through vehicle cameras or information through synced phones, could be a source of national security concerns. The move marks the latest escalation in the intensifying U.S.-China technological battle and appears to mirror the U.S.’s previous restrictions on Chinese communications equipment due to espionage concerns.

Today, the Taliban warned Washington that the insurgent group plans to react if U.S. troops do not leave the country by May 1, which marks the agreed-upon deadline for a full U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press. The White House has stated that it is reviewing last year’s U.S.-Taliban agreement, and during an interview with ABC earlier this week, Biden said that meeting the May 1 deadline for a full troop withdrawal “could happen, but it is tough.” Suhail Sheheen, a member of the Taliban negotiation team, warned against a breach of the May 1 deadline saying, “it will be a kind of violation of the agreement. That violation would not be from our side… Their violation will have a reaction.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, a signal of the bilateral effort to strengthen relations between the U.S. and India as the Biden administration looks to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific, writes Politico. A senior defense official told Politico that the U.S. and India have a shared interest in supporting “free, fair and reciprocal trade” in addition to the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the Indo-Pacific region. Asked about whether Austin would discuss Modi’s harsh treatment of Indian Muslims, another senior defense official declined to comment on the matter but stated that “we routinely raise issues of human rights.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that he’s prepared for a direct conversation with Biden “about bilateral relations, about strategic stability, about resolving regional conflicts,” according to Bloomberg. The remarks were made during a televised videoconference celebrating the anniversary of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. During the conference, Putin fired back to Biden’s prior description of the Russian leader as a “killer,” saying, “it takes one to know one.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Alex Reinert summarized findings from his recent academic article, “Qualified Immunity on Appeal: An Empirical Assessment,” which provides the most comprehensive study to date of the resolution of qualified immunity appeals in federal courts.

Robert Morgus and John Costello scrutinized Biden’s new supply chain executive order, which outlines a process for the U.S. to identify and mitigate risks and challenges in the information and communications technology supply chains, in addition to other critical spaces.

Lester Munson shared the latest episode of Fault Lines, featuring an interview with Andrew Natsios and Andy Card, co-editors of “Transforming Our World: President George H.W. Bush and American Foreign Policy.”

Victoria Gallegos shared the House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on discrimination and violence against Asian Americans.

Jen Patja Howell shared the latest edition of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth miniseries on disinformation, in which Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Daphne Keller about Section 230 reform.

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