Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ajay Sarma, Christiana Wayne
Wednesday, June 9, 2021, 1:13 PM

In a 68-32 vote, the Senate passed a bill yesterday that commits approximately $250 billion to foment scientific research and development in the United States as part of the technological competition with China, reports the New York Times. The bill intends to galvanize research on key technologies, including artificial intelligence, semiconductors, quantum computing, robotics and biotechnologies. It also includes trade measures that lift tariffs on certain goods while calling for the imposition of sanctions in response to the use of forced labor and human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region of China.

El Salvador became the first country in the world to recognize Bitcoin as legal tender following a vote in the country’s congress, writes Reuters. President Nayib Bukele backed the move as one that would “bring financial inclusion, investment, tourism, innovation and economic development” for El Salvador. The adoption of Bitcoin could facilitate remittances by Salvadorans living abroad, as it would provide a way to avoid using remittance firms. However, the technical knowledge Bitcoin usage demands, the volatility of the cryptocurrency and inflation risks are salient concerns. The move could also complicate El Salvador’s talks with the International Monetary Fund, where it is negotiating for a $1 billion program.

An attack on staff members of the HALO Trust, a British-American charity in Afghanistan, killed 10 people and wounded 16 others, reports the New York Times. Employees were clearing land mines in the northeastern province of Baghlan when an “unknown armed group” opened fire on 110 men, all of them Afghan citizens. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. Consistent with previous attacks by the Islamic State in Afghanistan, the attackers asked who among the employees were Hazaras, a persecuted minority in the country, then ransacked the camp. The government initially blamed the Taliban for the attack—the group denied any involvement.

President Biden departed for England this morning for his first overseas trip as president, reports the Washington Post. He will land at Royal Air Force Mildenhall later today to meet with Air Force personnel stationed there, according to NPR. His European tour includes meetings with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as summits with the G7, NATO and the European Union.

Four members of the opposition to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s government were detained yesterday, writes the BBC. Two of them, Félix Maradiaga and Juan Sebastián Chamorro, were potential presidential candidates in the upcoming November elections. Arturo Cruz and Cristiana Chamorro, also presidential hopefuls, were arrested last week. With the exception of Cristiana Chamorro, all of those detained were convicted under a treason law passed by Nicaragua’s National Assembly in December that allows the government to ban traitors from running for office. Critics say that the treason law is intended to prevent opposition candidates from challenging Ortega.

Israel’s security cabinet approved an ultranationalist parade in Jerusalem set for June 15 if police approve its route, reports the Associated Press. The march is set to occur two days after the Knesset’s confidence vote on the new government that could remove Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office after 12 years. This agreement comes a day after police blocked the route through Jerusalem’s Old City, citing concerns that the march would reignite conflict between Israel and Hamas. Parade organizers saw this move as a capitulation to Hamas pressure. Palestinians see the parade, which will pass through Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter, as a provocation. The march celebrates Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, an annexation not recognized internationally. The parade was underway on May 10 when conflict broke out between Hamas and Israel, sparking attacks that killed 254 people in Gaza and 13 in Israel before a ceasefire on May 21.

Biden signed an executive order revoking Trump orders restricting WeChat and TikTok, replacing them with a new order that requires security reviews of any applications linked to a “foreign adversary” including China, writes the Wall Street Journal. The order directs the Commerce Department to evaluate foreign-controlled software applications and take steps to protect Americans’ data.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Bryce Klehm announced this week’s Lawfare Live, which will feature a conversation between Lawfare Senior Editors Molly Reynolds and Quinta Jurecic and Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes on the Senate’s report on the events of Jan. 6.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Alicia Wanless, director of the Partnership for Countering Influence Operations at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, sat down with Wittes to discuss countering influence operations.

Dominic Cruz Bustillos, Ian J. Lynch and Alexander Vindman argued for a reinvigorated multilateral approach to combating authoritarian power and preserving a liberal international order.

Rohini Kurup shared the Senate Rules and Administration and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees’ 127-page joint report on the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

Ion Meyn discussed the risks of harm police departments’ use-of-force training pose to civilians.

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast which includes discussion on the Biden administration’s approach to the transatlantic data crisis, aftermath of the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and more.

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