Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Gallegos
Thursday, March 25, 2021, 2:20 PM

During a court appearance today, lawyers for the Boulder shooting suspect cited an unspecified mental illness while asking the judge to delay the next court date, writes the Times. Kathryn Herold, a public defender assigned to the case, asked the judge to postpone the next court date so that the defense could fully assess the mental illness of the suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa. In addition to being charged with 10 counts of murder in the first degree, prosecutors stated they would file more charges against Alissa in the following weeks. The parties will meet in court in 60 to 90 days, and Alissa will continue to be held without bond. 

The Pentagon approved a request to temporarily house unaccompanied migrant children at two Texas military installations, reports CNN. The Department of Health and Human Services will have immediate access to the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and Fort Bliss, to prepare for the children’s arrival, and the agency will “maintain custody and responsibility for the well-being and support of these children at all times on the installation,” according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.  

President Biden held his first formal news conference as president today, reports the New York Times. Biden was asked several questions about his administration’s handling of the southern border crisis, to which he reaffirmed his decision to reverse President Trump’s policies and stated his administration was “building back up the capacity that should have been maintained.” When asked about Afghanistan, Biden stated it would be difficult to meet the May 1 date for troop removal, but that he could “not picture” troops still in the country by next year. 

The chief executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter testified before Congress about social media’s role in spreading disinformation, writes the Times. The hearing, held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is the first time the CEOs have faced questions by lawmakers about the role their companies played in the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

Facebook disrupted a China-based espionage campaign against Uighur Muslim dissidents, journalists and activists living outside China, writes the Washington Post. The social media company disrupted the hackers’ operations, which used the platform, and notified those targeted. Facebook has not identified the specific group behind the hacking operation, but could place the hackers in China.“This activity had the hallmarks of a well-resourced and persistent operation, while obfuscating who’s behind it,” the company stated. 

The Department of State has begun a review into whether it should declare the Myanmar military’s campaign against the Rohingya minority a genocide, reports Reuters. Some U.S. officials had urged outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to formally declare the situation a genocide, but Pompeo never did. 

In a response to recent concerns about its coronavirus vaccine, AstraZeneca said it had analyzed more data and concluded that its vaccine is 76 percent effective instead of the 79 percent reported earlier, writes the Associated Press. The full data will be released in several weeks, after the Food and Drug Administration begins its own review. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast, in which Benjamin Wittes and Jacob Schulz discuss the seditious conspiracy statute. 

Tia Sewell shared a livestream of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism hearing on state and local responses to domestic terrorism. 

Victoria Gallegos shared a livestream of the House Armed Services Committee hearing on extremism in the armed forces. 

Yaya J. Fanusie analyzed how merchant crypto payments can be a threat to national security. 

James N. Miller and Robert Butler argued that the Office of the National Cyber Director must be supplemented by a new National Cyber Defense Center.

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk, featuring a conversation with Te-Ping Chen, a Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent in Hong Kong and Beijing, about her writing process and stories. 

Howell also shared an episode of Rational Security, the “Chilly in Alaska” edition. 

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