Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Christiana Wayne
Wednesday, June 2, 2021, 3:59 PM

Israeli centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid reached deals with several parties on a new governing coalition, inching closer to unseating Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu, according to Reuters. One of Lapid’s new major partners is Defense Minister Benny Gantz, leader of the centrist Blue and White party. Lapid and Gantz’s parties released a joint statement saying they had “agreed on the outlines of the government and core issues relating to the strengthening of democracy and Israeli society.” A source familiar with the talks says the proposed government will avoid controversial issues such as Israeli occupation of the West Bank territory. Lapid has until midnight Wednesday to present the coalition to parliament.

Two Iranian Navy ships traveling south along the east coast of Africa are expected to reach the Atlantic Ocean by Thursday, reports Politico. U.S. officials believe the warships are headed for Venezuela. The Iranian Foreign Ministry said that Iran has the right to be in international waters and U.S. officials should act carefully in response. “No country can violate this right,” a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. “Those who sit in glass houses should be careful.” U.S. defense officials say there are currently no plans to monitor or deter the Iranian ships with U.S. Navy ships.

New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) released a document outlining a cyberattack on its systems by a hacking group with alleged ties to the Chinese government, the New York Times reports. According to transit officials, the breach did not grant hackers access to systems that control trains and did not endanger riders, causing little damage overall. Transit officials believe this intrusion is the third attack by a foreign entity on MTA systems in recent years. The hack appears to be part of a larger campaign targeting federal agencies, financial institutions and other sectors carried out in April. The Chinese government has repeatedly denied carrying out the cyberattacks.

After a ransomware attack likely by a criminal group in Russia, Brazilian-based meat distributor JBS says its systems are recovering, per the Washington Post. This attack had the potential to disrupt global supply chains as JBS is the largest meat processor in the world. JBS’s quick recovery has eased concerns that the attack would cause significant shortages and drive up meat prices. “Our systems are coming back online and we are not sparing any resources to fight this threat,” chief executive of the company’s U.S. operations said. “We have cybersecurity plans in place to address these types of issues and we are successfully executing those plans.”

Paul Allard Hodgkins, a Tampa man who carried an American flag into the Senate well on Jan. 6, has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of storming the Capitol to obstruct Congress’s presidential election certification, according to the Washington Post. He faces a prison sentence of 15 to 21 months. Because Hodgkins did not enter a cooperation deal with prosecutors and is not accused of other extremist activity, his sentencing could set the bar for similar cases as defendants decide whether they should plead guilty. Around 450 individuals were federally charged in connection to the Jan. 6 riot. Nearly half have only faced misdemeanor charges, but around 200 defendants were charged with obstructing an official proceeding of Congress.

During his visit to Costa Rica, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. would distribute millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines to countries around the world, including in Latin America, reports the Washington Post. Hospitalization rates are rising in the region, and nations are struggling to vaccinate their citizens. Blinken provided no details on the distribution process. President Biden previously promised to distribute 80 million doses to other countries by the end of June but also left questions of logistics unanswered.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring discussion of the newest developments in Trump investigations. Lawfare co-founder Jack Goldsmith, Executive Editor Scott Anderson, and Senior Editor Quinta Juresic join Editor in Chief Benjamin Wittes to break down Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s barnburner opinion concerning former Attorney General Bill Barr’s Justice Department and the Mueller investigation.

John Bellinger remembers Senator John Warner for his political independence, expertise and integrity.

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk in which he and Ilan Gur discuss ways to improve America’s research and development and solve entrepreneurial bottlenecks.

Jim Dempsey proposed strengthening regulatory guidelines following the TSA’s new emergency directive in the wake of the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline in May.

Alan Rozenshtein argued that the government’s best defense of a digital surveillance system in the interest of public health would rely on the “special needs” exemption to the Fourth Amendment.

Michel Paradis provided background and analysis for the newest legislative effort to combat the prevalence of sexual assault in the military.

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