Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Emily Dai
Monday, November 29, 2021, 1:32 PM

Several countries closed their borders to try to keep the new omicron variant of the coronavirus at bay Monday, reports the New York Times. Japan, Israel and Morocco banned all foreign travelers and Australia delayed reopening its borders for two weeks. Other countries, such as Singapore and Malaysia, proceeded with their plans of reopening their borders. The cascade of travel closures sparked anger among some Africans who believe the continent is once again being punished by policies from Western countries, which had failed to provide vaccines. 

Epidemiologist Salim Abdool Karim said Monday that the emergence of the omicron variant in South Africa has contributed to a sharp increase in coronavirus cases, writes the Washington Post. Children under two years of age make up the highest total number of hospitalizations. This wave of cases comes amid the South African government and African leaders criticizing the slew of travel bans recently implemented by developed nations, a move that the World Health Organization warned would discourage countries from being transparent about their work on the virus. Karim predicts that South Africa will top 10,000 new cases per day by the end of the week.

The Wall Street Journal reports that an undercover network of Taliban operatives infiltrated government ministries, universities, businesses and aid organizations years before the Afghan government’s collapse. Senior Taliban leader Mawlawi Mohammad Salim Saad boasted that his men from the so-called Badri force of the Haqqani network were in every organization and department.  These undercover agents allegedly played a role in the Taliban’s seizure of Kabul on Aug. 15.

Five U.S. lawmakers met with Taiwanese government officials on Thursday, a move that the Chinese government described as an "act of provocation,” says CNN. The visit came as tensions between Taiwan and China have escalated as China increases its military presence around the self-ruled island. The delegation said that the United States and Taiwan would discuss a variety of national security and economic issues, particularly supply chain issues. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters the meeting violated the one-China principle and warned that “[c]ollaborating with the 'Taiwan independence' forces is a dangerous game; playing with 'Taiwan independence' will eventually lead to fire.”

There has been a spike in Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in recent months, writes the Washington Post. Violent incidents of beatings, arson, vandalism, rock-throwing or other attacks by settlers are up about 150 percent in the past two years, with 115 separate incidents since the beginning of the year, according to a UN agency. Videos of Israeli soldiers in charge of preventing violence in areas where settlements are located revealed that the army does little to intervene during the incidents. The Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement that “[a]ny claim that the IDF supports or permits violence by residents in the area is false.”

The foreign ministers of Britain and Israel wrote a joint article stating that the two countries will work to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, according to Reuters. The countries will sign a 10-year pact on Monday to work closely on issues such as cybersecurity, technology, trade and defense.

Rep. Adam Schiff said in an interview with CNN that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack will likely decide this week whether to file criminal contempt charges against former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for defying a subpoena.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which the hosts of Rational Security discuss the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, the disappearance of Peng Shuai and the resignation of two conservative political commentators over a Tucker Carlson film.

Howell also shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Bryce Klehm sat down with Francine Hirsch to talk about the Nuremberg Trials from the Soviet perspective and the trials’ legacy 75 years later.

David Priess shared an episode of the Chatter podcast in which Shane Harris talks with Garrett Graff about how Graff first began writing and his new “speculative nonfiction” novella.

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