Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Emily Dai
Friday, December 3, 2021, 2:53 PM

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday that Russia would face “serious consequences” if it encroaches further on Ukraine, reports the Wall Street Journal. The diplomats were gathered along with many other nations  at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The meeting came a day after the United States and its NATO partners discussed imposing costs for further Russian aggression against Ukraine, such as sanctions. Following the Stockholm meeting, Blinken told reporters that President Biden and Russian President Putin may have an opportunity to speak directly about Ukraine soon.

The iPhones of at least 11 U.S. State Department employees were hacked in recent months by an unknown assailant using spyware developed by the Israel-based company NSO Group, writes the Washington Post. The hacks targeted U.S. officials based in Uganda or elsewhere in East Africa. 

The United Arab Emirates and France signed a $18 billion arms deal Friday that will see the Gulf state acquire 80 Rafale fighter jets and 12 Airbus-built combat helicopters, reports AP News. The purchase received some criticism from human rights groups because of the UAE’s involvement in the Yemeni Civil War.

The Taliban issued a decree Friday barring forced marriage in Afghanistan that states women must consent to marriage, says AP News. The announcement appears to be aimed at meeting requirements that the international community considers necessary before recognizing their government and returning aid to the war-torn country. 

Days after Twitter unveiled a new “private information policy,” neo-Nazis and far-right activists are coaching their followers on how to utilize the regulation to get photos of them removed from the accounts of anti-extremism researches and journalists, writes the Washington Post. The new policy allows individuals whose photo or video was tweeted without their consent to request the social media platform to take it down. One white nationalist and Nazi sympathizer wrote on the encrypted chat service Telegram that the new policy will help them “[t]ake down Antifa...doxxing pages more easily” and included a list of nearly 50 Twitter accounts to report, and at least one account was suspended by Thursday.

In the wake of the deadly school shooting at a Michigan high school this week, Iowa senator Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate judiciary committee, blocked a request to move forward on gun control legislation, according to the Guardian. He called the request “hostile towards lawful gun owners and lawful firearm transactions” and criticized the idea of implementing universal background checks.

City officials confirmed five cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the New York City metro area Thursday, according to CNBC. Health officials are concerned the omicron variant may be able to evade the protection offered by current vaccines.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Quinta Jurecic and Evelyn Douek sat down with Zoom employees Josh Kallmer and Josh Parecki to discuss their company’s content moderation policies.

Yevgeny Vindman argued that a quasi-inspector general free from interference from other senior officials could establish a mechanism for accountability inside the White House.

David Priess shared an episode of the Chatter Podcast in which Priess has a conversation with AIDS activist Emily Bass to discuss America's fight to defeat AIDS in Africa.

Priess also wrote about the new information revealed in a new edition of “Getting to Know the President” by John Helgerson, and what it reveals about the interactions between intelligence officers and former President Trump.

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk in which voice actors Jacob Guenther and Chara Lin perform excerpts of Jennifer Dodgson's translation of “Stratagems of the Warring States.”
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