Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ajay Sarma, Christiana Wayne
Thursday, July 22, 2021, 3:53 PM

China refused the World Health Organization’s request to conduct another investigation on the origins of coronavirus, according to the New York Times. Chinese officials said they were shocked and offended by the request, coming with renewed speculation that the virus might have originated in a lab in Wuhan. Zeng Yixin, the vice minister of the Chinese National Health Commission, said the proposal “revealed a lack of respect for common sense and an arrogant attitude toward science.” In March, a joint investigation by the WHO and China found it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus escaped from a lab, but some scientists have claimed that the findings were premature. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called China’s refusal “irresponsible and frankly dangerous.”

The Biden administration imposed sanctions on Cuban officials that it said were directly involved in attacks on anti-government protestors earlier this month, according to the Washington Post. Imposed under the Global Magnitsky Act, the sanctions will affect select members of Cuba’s Interior Ministry and military forces. The measures come as the administration faced pressure from Congress and activists to support the protestors. In a statement announcing the actions, President Biden said, “This is just the beginning. The United States will continue to sanction individuals responsible for oppression of the Cuban people.”

The outgoing president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, announced the country has opened its first oil terminal in the Gulf of Oman, according to Al Jazeera. The move will allow Iranian oil exports to bypass the Strait of Hormuz, a route that has been the source of conflict for decades. Rouhani said the new port, located near the town of Jask, is evidence of the “failure of the U.S. sanctions” aimed at limiting Iran’s exports.

Sen. Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, will refuse to hold the hearing for President Biden’s nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection until questions about the Trump administration’s deployment of federal agents to his home state of Oregan are answered by the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, writes the Washington Post. Last summer, the Trump administration deployed federal officers to Portland after protests erupted following the police killing of George Floyd, claiming the move was necessary to protect federal buildings. Local officials said the officers used force against demonstrators and used unmarked vehicles to detain some protesters. 

The House of Representatives voted to allow more Afghans who assisted U.S. forces in Afghanistan into the United States, reports the Associated Press. A new bill would add 8,000 more visas for Afghan interpreters and other Afghans that cooperated with U.S. operations at a time when the exit of foreign troops from the country has increased fears of Taliban retaliation. The Biden administration is formulating plans to process thousands of visa applicants on bases in foreign countries before bringing them to the U.S. 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that she would not let Republican “antics stand in the way” of a House select committee’s investigation into the events of Jan. 6, according to The Hill. After Pelosi rejected two of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s five nominations to the committee, McCarthy withdrew all of his nominations. Pelosi said that Reps. Jim Banks and Jim Jordan could not properly “exercise judgment” given their past actions and statements, though she had indicated in a statement on Wednesday that she was prepared to accept McCarthy’s other three picks. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Elisabeth Kendall, a senior research fellow at Pembroke College of Oxford University, and Alexandra Stark, a senior researcher at New America, talk to Lawfare COO David Priess about signs of hope in Yemen.

Asaf Lubin and João Marinotti discussed the issues in current jurisprudence dealing with cybercrime.

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk featuring a discussion from Andrew Sosanya of the Day One Project, Adam Marblestone of Schmidt Futures and Orin Hoffman of The Engine.

Dmitri Alperovitch and Ian Ward discussed the Biden administration’s response to Chinese cybercrimes.

Howell also shared the final episode of Rational Security.

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