Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Emily Dai
Thursday, January 6, 2022, 2:07 PM

Kazakh security forces claim to have killed dozens of anti-government rioters in the country’s capital, Almarty, after protesters attempted to seize control of police stations in the city, reports BBC. The turmoil, sparked by a doubling in the cost of liquified petroleum gas, has resulted in the deaths of 12 police officers and the injuries of 353 others. Russia is deploying troops at the request of Kazakhstan’s president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to help “stabilize” the country, which is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) along with Russia, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. Approximately 1,000 people have reportedly been injured as a result of the protests. Tokayev has declared a state of emergency across Kazakhstan, imposing a curfew and banning mass gatherings.

President Biden marked the anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot with a speech Thursday that took sharp aim at former president Trump, claiming Trump “has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election,” according to NPR. “For the first time in our history a president not just lost the election, he tried to prevent a peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol,” Biden said from Statuary Hall, just outside the House chamber. To commemorate the anniversary, Democratic legislators have organized a daylong series of events at the Capitol.

The omicron variant of the coronavirus currently accounts for 95 percent of sequenced cases in the United States, causing a nationwide outbreak that threatens to overburden hospitals, writes CNBC. The highly contagious omicron variant has surpassed delta in just a matter of weeks. Additionally, hospitalizations are on the rise, with a 32 percent rise in Americans hospitalized with coronavirus from last week.

Following a bilateral meeting with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Russian-owned Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany gives Europe “leverage” against Russia’s military provocations, reports the Hill. The United States has long opposed the pipeline’s development, claiming that Russia’s control of gas delivery to Europe endangers Ukraine’s status as a gas transit hub. Germany agreed with the Biden administration that if Russia militarized Nord Stream 2 or engaged in aggressive acts against Ukraine, Berlin would impose sanctions on Moscow.

Hong Kong officials imposed the city’s harshest restrictions since coronavirus was detected two years ago on Wednesday, according to the Washington Post. Restrictions include prohibiting all passenger flights from eight countries and reimplementing strict social distancing measures. While only a few community infections have been reported in Hong Kong, the severe restrictions are in part a result of the territory’s relatively low immunization rates, especially among the elderly. The new infections have caused a rush to vaccine clinics across Hong Kong, with many of them fully booked for the next few weeks.

“Flurona,” a term describing when a person tests positive for the flu and coronavirus at the same time, is garnering attention in the midst of a new pandemic surge, says ABC. "Both are common, so it is not unexpected that some people would be infected at the same time," said Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

On Thursday, China spoke out against the United States for its support for Lithuania in its dispute with Beijing over relations with Taiwan, says AP News. “The U.S. side has defended Lithuania’s erroneous act of creating ‘one China, one Taiwan,’ and attempted to put together a small clique condoning the Taiwan independence forces,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing. Wang’s remarks come after top U.S. and German officials on Wednesday said Chinese pressure on Lithuania, which had named the Taiwanese office in Vilnius “Taiwan” rather than “Chinese Taipei,” was unnecessary. Wang also criticized Taiwan’s effort to establish a $200 million investment fund for Lithuania to offset China’s economic reprisals as “dollar diplomacy.”

During the racial justice protests in 2020, Seattle police officers made false radio messages about the Proud Boys, generating unnecessary panic, writes the Hill. The Office of Police Accountability found in their investigation that a “misinformation effort” was “approved, ordered, and led” by an unnamed member of the Seattle Police Department.

The United Kingdom has recorded another 179,856 coronavirus cases, up 29 percent from the week before, as the omicron variant surges, writes the Guardian.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Benjamin Wittes sat down with Suzanne Maloney, Dan Byman and Scott R. Anderson and discussed whether the threat of terrorism and escalation in response to the Soleimani strike was overstated, if U.S. interests were harmed in Iraq as a result of the strike and what may have kept the Iranian regime from taking stronger action than it eventually took.

Daniel Schwarcz, Josephine Wolff and Daniel Woods analyzed whether legal rules governing the confidentiality of cyber incident response undermine cybersecurity.

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk in which Schneider and Xiran Jay Zhao talk about Zhao’s new book, going viral and Youtube China content and how censorship is stifling creativity in C-dramas.

Schneider also shared an episode of ChinaTalk in which he gives a year in review and discusses future plans for the podcast.

Howell also shared an episode of Rational Security in which the hosts were joined by Wittes to discuss Merrick Garland’s upcoming speech, Trump’s recent endorsement of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and the Justice Department’s recent extradition of Kremlin insider Vladislav Klyushin.

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