Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Emily Dai
Wednesday, December 8, 2021, 2:53 PM

Germany’s parliament elected Olaf Scholz as the country’s next chancellor on Wednesday, ending Angela Merkel’s 16-year tenure, according to CBS News. Scholz will lead a three-party coalition that includes the social democrat SPD party, the Greens and the liberal FDP. His new government aims to expand rent control policies and create 400,000 new apartments every year, including 100,000 in social housing, and areas with tight housing markets will have a rent freeze implemented. Scholz has also advocated for the expansion of renewable energy generation, strengthening public transit and raising the minimum wage.

The House passed the compromised version of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act on Tuesday night, providing $27.8 billion for the Department of Energy for nuclear weapons and $3.5 billion for military construction across the country, reports NPR. The bill dropped numerous provisions, including measures that would expand the draft to include women and repeal decades-old war power authorizations. The legislation also included the European Deterrence Initiative and the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which aim to deter Russian and Chinese aggression respectively while also strengthening U.S. presence in the regions. The law also calls for the creation of an independent commission to evaluate the Afghanistan War and provide recommendations and lessons learned.

India’s top military commander, Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat, was among 13 people killed in a helicopter crash on Wednesday in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, according to the Washington Post. Under Rawat’s leadership, the Indian military’s budget has continually shrank relative to the government’s total expenditures. Rawat was also one of the most outspoken Indian leaders characterizing China as the top threat to India, rather than Pakistan.

Australia, the U.K. and Canada will join the United States in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing in protest of China’s human rights record, writes Reuters. The Chinese government has denied allegations of human rights violations, including charges of wrongdoing in Xinjiang. At a daily briefing in Beijing, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Australian politicians were engaging in “political posturing” and that “[n]obody cares” if government officials come or not to the games.

In a 67-30 vote, the Senate on Tuesday blocked a resolution that would have banned a $650 million proposed weapons sale of air-to-air missiles and related equipment to Saudi Arabia, says Politico. The vote blunted criticism of Saudi Arabia’s role in Yemen’s civil war and its human rights record. 

Amazon Web Services experienced a widespread outage on Tuesday, disrupting services at a wide range of U.S. companies for more than five hours, reports AP News. Single-point failures causing widespread and often lengthy outages appear to be increasingly common. In October, Facebook, now Meta Platforms, blamed a “faulty configuration change” for an hours-long global outage that also affected Instagram and Whatsapp.

French authorities announced Wednesday that the man arrested Tuesday at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport near Paris for allegedly being linked to the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was misidentified, writes the New York Times. The man was misidentified because his name and age matched that of Khalid Alotaibi, who is accused of being a part of the team that killed Khashoggi.

Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla announced in a statement Wednesday that a booster dose of its coronavirus vaccine may offer protection against the new omicron variant, reports BBC. After a small study, Pfizer and BioNTech found that three doses produce a similar amount of antibodies against omicron as two doses against other variations.

ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which David Priess, Eric Swalwell, Dr. Julie Gerberding and Matt Berrett discuss whether America’s national security institutions are prepared to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Russell Wheeler wrote about the judicial support Trump’s 2020 election litigation battle received.

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast in which Baker and Nate Jones discuss Texas’s law regulating social media censorship; the United States leading the global effort to curb authoritarians’ access to surveillance tools and Russia’s Twitter slowdown; and Megan Stifel talks through cybersecurity recommendations for rail and other surface transportation companies and the Ubiquiti data breach, along with a series of shorter updates.

Justin Sherman explained why the Federal Communications Commission barred China Telecom from providing telecommunications services in the United States.

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