Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ajay Sarma, Christiana Wayne
Tuesday, July 13, 2021, 3:55 PM

Prices rose 5.4 percent in June when compared with a year earlier, with a 0.9 percent increase in June alone, reports the Washington Post. The price increase last month is the largest hike in a single month since June 2008. The White House and the Federal Reserve have expressed that inflation is a symptom of the economic recovery. While Republicans and some economists have expressed concern about increased prices and the inflationary effects of the Federal Reserve’s low interest rates, it seems unlikely that the central bank will lower interest rates. 

The Senate confirmed Jen Easterly as the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on Monday, writes Politico. The post had been vacant for eight months. CISA, formed under the Department of Homeland Security in 2018, is charged with defending the nation’s infrastructure from cyber threats. Major cyberattacks, a broader congressional mandate and personnel and budget shortages have increased the strain on the agency recently. 

A resolution passed by the United Nations Human Rights Council demanded “an immediate halt” to violence and human rights abuses in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and urged the withdrawal of Eritrean troops, according to Deutsche Welle. The resolution, which called for a “swift and verifiable withdrawal” of Eritrean troops, was opposed by an Eritrean representative who claimed the country’s troops had already exited the region. 

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has implemented a policy of “soft suppression” amid a rise in Delta variant coronavirus cases in the country, according to Reuters. Because most Israelis at highest risk have been vaccinated, Bennett is counting on fewer infections that result in serious illness and wants the country to learn to live with the virus, avoiding Israel’s fourth national lockdown. The strategy will rely on rapid testing, monitoring cases and public information campaigns encouraging facemasks and vaccines.

The Lithuanian parliament voted to allow mass detention of asylum seekers, a decision meant to curb the number of migrants crossing the border from Belarus, reports Reuters. Despite outcry from several human rights groups, 84 members voted for approving the measure, with one objection and five abstentions. Lithuania and the EU have accused the government in Minsk of using illegal migrants to put pressure on the EU’s sanctions on Belarus. Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said the goal of the legislation is “to send a message to Iraqis and others that this is not a convenient route, conditions will not be good here.”

In an annual defense white paper, Japan has warned of growing U.S.-China tensions over Taiwan with “a sense of crisis more than ever before,” according to Al Jazeera. This statement is the first time the report has mentioned Taiwan’s stability. It said the uptick in China’s military action around the island threatened the security of Japan and the international community. The warning comes as Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinping pledged to complete the “reunification” of China and Taiwan and labelled the U.S. as the “greatest creator of risk” in the region.

The French competition authority fined Google 500 million euros for not complying with an order to negotiate deals with news organizations over the use of their content in search results, among other services, reports the BBC. The order, issued last year, was part of France’s implementation of the European Union’s Digital Copyright Directive. Representatives of press publishers, including Agence France-Presse, complained to the French competition authority when Google decided to stop showing content from EU publishers based in France in response to the order. Google, which insists that it acted in “good faith throughout the entire process,” must now formulate a compensation proposal for French news outlets, or incur additional fines of 900 thousand euros per day. 

At least 45 people are dead as a result of violence in South Africa that began in response to last week’s imprisonment of former South African President Jacob Zuma, writes the BBC. The unrest has also led to the arrests of almost 800 and the deployment of the military to assist police.  Bheki Cele, South Africa’s police minister, indicated that continued looting could produce food shortages as well. 

Dark web sites belonging to REvil, a Russian ransomware group, suddenly disappeared early Tuesday morning, according to the New York Times. REvil is allegedly responsible for ransomware attacks on JBS, a food processing company, and Kaseya VSA. President Biden had pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to take action against Russian hackers targeting Americans on Friday, but it remains unclear who is responsible for REvil’s disappearance from the dark web. 

The death toll for a fire in an Iraqi hospital rose to at least 92 on Tuesday, reports the New York Times. The fire broke out on Monday, devastating the coronavirus isolation ward at the Imam Hussein Teaching Hospital in Nasriya. While most of the hospital staff were able to escape, patients on ventilators could not move. In April, a fire in Baghdad hospital also treating coronavirus patients killed at least 82.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Dmitri Alperovitch sat down with Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger to discuss the Biden administration's cybersecurity strategy.

Erica D. Borghard argued that bilateral agreements on cybersecurity between the United States and Russia should focus on the financial sector.

Jack Goldsmith explained the shortcomings of President Biden’s threats of unspecified “consequences” against Russia’s ransomware attacks.

Darrell West shared an episode of TechTank which covers challenges of confronting student cheating for colleges during the coronavirus pandemic.

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