Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Emily Dai
Wednesday, December 22, 2021, 4:44 PM

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized the first pill against the coronavirus, a five-day regimen developed by Pfizer, according to the Washington Post. As omicron cases skyrocket nationwide, doctors are likely to soon deplete the first supply of the pill Paxlovid, which has been shown to be 89 percent effective in preventing serious sickness in high-risk individuals when administered within three days after the onset of symptoms of the coronavirus. Antiviral pills have been widely expected to be a potential turning point in the pandemic. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said “This authorization provides a new tool to combat COVID-19 at a crucial time in the pandemic as new variants emerge and promises to make antiviral treatment more accessible to patients who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.”

Four senior Israeli officials who met with national security adviser Jake Sullivan told Axios that they left feeling reassured that the United States is willing to take a tougher stance on Iran if required, and that the United States is willing to listen to Israel’s concerns. Sullivan proposed three possible near-term scenarios on Iran’s nuclear program in the meetings, which included: an agreement to return to full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, a “freeze to freeze” temporary deal that would stop Iran from further accelerating its program or no deal at all.

A new forensic analysis by cybersecurity expert Bill Marczak of Citizen Lab found that United Arab Emirates (UAE) agents put Pegasus spyware from Israeli spyware firm NSO Group on the phone of U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s wife months before Khashoggi’s murder, writes the Washington Post. Hanan Elatr’s phone was confiscated in Dubai by UAE agents shortly after she and Khashoggi had been engaged and were in a long-distance relationship.

A jury convicted Harvard professor Charles Lieber on Tuesday on six counts related to payments he received from a Chinese government talent program, according to the Wall Street Journal. The trial has emerged as a critical test of a Justice Department campaign aimed at countering Chinese efforts to recruit scientists from American universities in order to propel China to the forefront of scientific development. Lieber, a renowned expert in the field of nanoscience, was accused of lying to government investigators about his participation in the Chinese government’s Thousand Talents program, hiding the existence of a Chinese bank account and failing to report cash payments on his tax returns.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has requested a meeting with Republican Rep. Jim Jordan to discuss his conversations with then-President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, making Jordan the second lawmaker requested to cooperate with the committee, reports CNBC. Rep. Scott Perry said Tuesday that he would not comply with investigators after the committee requested information from him earlier this week. Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson wrote in a letter sent to Jordan on Wednesday that the committee believes Jordan “[h]ad at least one and possibly multiple communications with President Trump on January 6th.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Quinta Jurecic, Andrew Kent and Benjamin Wittes discussed why Merrick Garland needs to speak publicly about past abuses and the current work of the department.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Jurecic, Kent and Wittes read their article entitled, “Merrick Garland Needs To Speak Up.”

Emily Dai shared the Pentagon’s updates to its rules on extremism inside military ranks.

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