Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Gallegos
Wednesday, March 31, 2021, 1:36 PM

Two Capitol police officers are suing former President Trump, claiming he was responsible for the physical and emotional injuries they endured as a result of the Jan. 6 insurrection, writes the New York Times. James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby are both seeking damages over $75,000 and punitive damages. On Jan. 6, Hemby was crushed against the outside of the Capitol building and sprayed with a burning chemical; he remains in physical therapy for neck and back injuries. Blassingame sustained head and back injuries during the riot, and has experienced back pain, depression and insomnia.  

President Biden will not renew a Trump-era order restricting work-based visa programs in the name of the coronavirus, according to the Hill. The Trump policy froze the application process for work and student visas, including the H-1B visas, the largest visa program used for skilled workers. The Trump administration’s order is set to expire today.

Facebook will launch a new feature which can give users greater control over the content they see, reports the Hill. The new “Feed Filter Bar,” will appear at the top of a user’s news feed, and will offer filters including  “most recent” to chronologically sort posts, and “favorites” to allow users to prioritize posts from specific friends and pages. This and other features come as Facebook faces increased concerns over its content moderation.  

During a press briefing on Monday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the United States has no plan for a centralized federal vaccinations database, and there will be no federal mandate requiring a single vaccination credential, reports the Wall Street Journal.“We’ll leverage our resources to ensure that all vaccination-credential systems meet key standards—whether that’s universal accessibility, affordability [or] availability, both digitally and on paper,” said Psaki. When asked about the creation of possible vaccination passports, Andy Slavitt, the president’s senior adviser on the coronavirus, said he would defer to the private sector, and that “the government here is no viewing its role as the place to create a passport, nor a place to hold the data of citizens.” 

The Ukrainian military said that four of its soldiers died in combat with Russian-backed separatists in recent days, reports the Times. The Russian military is also reportedly increasing its military presence along the border with Ukraine. According to the Times, the United States military’s European Command has raised its watch level to “potential imminent crisis” in reaction to the movement of Russian forces. 

A United Nations investigation found that 19 civilians were killed in Mali when French fighter jets bombed a wedding ceremony earlier this year as part of a larger battle against an Islamist insurgency in the country, writes the Washington Post. The report—released by a UN peacekeeping force in Mali—stated that 22 people had died from the attack, and only three were suspected members of an extremist organization. “This strike raises significant concerns about respect for the principles of the conduct of hostilities,” wrote the authors. The French Defense Ministry responded in a statement saying, “The Ministry of the Armed Forces maintains and reaffirms with force that on January 3, the French armed forces carried out an airstrike targeting an armed terrorist group identified as such.” 

Italy expelled two Russian officials over connection with an espionage case, one day after the arrest of an Italian navy captain and the detention of a Russia military officer stationed in Rome on espionage charges, reports CNN. The names of the two expelled officials have not been disclosed, and the Russian ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Rome today. 

Myanmar’s deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi appeared in good health during a video meeting with her lawyers, reports Reuters. Suu Kyi has been held in custody since the military junta seized power on Feb. 1 and is facing bribery charges which her lawyers call a joke. According to her lawyer, Suu Kyi had wanted to meet in person with her lawyers and did not agree to a video meeting, which had a police presence. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast, featuring Quinta Jurecic’s interview with Jeff Asher, crime analyst and co-founder of AH Datalytics, about his recent Lawfare article on the lack of data on anti-Asian violence. 

Duncan B. Hollis and Tsvetelina van Benthem examined what would happen if nations treated cyber operations as a “threat,” in order to use force. 

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast, in which Francis Fukuyama, fellow and professor at Stanford University and renowned scholar, spoke about the use of editorial middleware. 

Lester Munson shared an episode of Fault Lines, featuring a conversation about the Anchorage Summit, the Biden administration’s approach to China and similar topics. 

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