Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Emily Dai
Friday, November 19, 2021, 3:24 PM

Kyle Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two men and wounded another in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was found not guilty Friday of first-degree intentional homicide and four other felony charges, writes CNN. After about 25 hours of deliberation, the jury determined that Rittenhouse feared for his life and acted in self-defense. Rittenhouse traveled to Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020, amid chaotic protests and rioting over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man. He fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber; and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz.

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday opened up coronavirus booster shots to all adults amid concerns about a surge in new cases this winter as Americans travel for the holidays, reports the Financial Times. Experts have expressed concerns that waning vaccine effectiveness will lead to a rise in coronavirus cases. According to CDC data, about 16 percent of vaccinated adults have already received a booster shot.

House Democrats passed a $1.85 trillion spending bill Friday that includes the largest expenditure in U.S. history to combat climate change, according to the New York Times. The legislation invests $555 billion toward programs designed to curb fossil fuel emissions, largely through tax incentives on low-emission energy sources. If enacted, the law is not enough on its own to meet Biden’s pledge to decrease emissions by half from 2005 by the end of the decade. 

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a speech in Abuja Friday that the United States would no longer treat Africa “[a]s a subject of geopolitics—and start treating it as the major geopolitical player it has become,” reports the New York Times. The remarks came as the United States seeks to boost its influence in Africa to counteract China’s increasing influence through its Belt and Road Initiative.  At a news conference on Thursday alongside his Nigerian counterpart, Foreign Minister Geoffrey Oyeama, Blinken was asked about the U.S.-China competition over infrastructure investment on the continent. Blinken warned that Africa may be left with tremendous debt because of its increasing reliance on the hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese investment. He also stated that investment from the United States would provide environmental protections and safeguards against corruption that China could not.

The Washington Post reported that deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest soared nearly 22 percent in the past year to the highest level since 2006. The destruction comes after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s campaign promised to open the Amazon to business development.

A jury began deliberations Friday in a civil trial involving white nationalists accused of conspiracy and racially motivated violence at the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally, says CNN. The jury will have to decide whether a defendant is liable for damages by a “preponderance of evidence.”

Biden temporarily transferred presidential power to Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday while he underwent a colonoscopy, writes NPR. Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, tweeted that Biden resumed presidential duties at 11:35 a.m. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic discuss the Facebook Oversight Board and how its role seems to be evolving.

Bruce Riedel reviewed the memoir “The Afghanistan File,” written by Prince Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, who served as the head of the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate for 24 years.

David Priess shared an episode of the Chatter Podcast in which he has a conversation with former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon about her life and her lessons on leadership.

Bryce Klehm shared the Department of Defense’s Inspector General’s report on the department’s preparation and response to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Michael Stern analyzed what questions Trump’s lawsuit against the Jan. 6 select committee and National Archives raises on executive privilege of former presidents.

Emily Dai shared the Justice Department’s indictment of two Iranian nationals accused of election interference.

Robert Chesney announced a new cybersecurity fellowship at the Strauss Center of the University of Texas.

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