Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Emily Dai
Friday, January 7, 2022, 2:56 PM

Kazakhstan’s president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said Friday that he has instructed troops to “shoot to kill without warning” in an attempt to quell anti-government protests that have continued this week following a dramatic increase in fuel prices, reports the Washington Post. Russian paratroopers arrived following Tokayev’s request for foreign intervention. While Tokayev called the protesters “criminals and murderers” in a televised address, several thousand demonstrated peacefully in the city of Zhanozen and published a detailed list of demands, including a change in power, freedom for civil rights activists and a return to a 1993 version of the constitution. According to global internet monitor NetBlocks, internet services have been severely disrupted in the country since Wednesday, with connectivity at roughly 5 percent of typical levels as of Friday morning. The Kazakh government imposed a 180-day price ceiling for gasoline on Thursday.

The Supreme Court Friday expressed skepticism on Friday that the Biden administration has the legal authority to mandate large employers to require workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo frequent testing, writes the New York Times. During the two-hour argument, certain members of the court indicated they believed a federal workplace safety law did not offer legal authority for the sweeping emergency measure. Although the Supreme Court has upheld a variety of state vaccine mandates, the case before the court focuses on whether Congress has authorized the executive branch the power to impose such restrictions.

Before a week of high-stakes negotiations on security proposals between Russia and western powers, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg ruled out establishing “second-class” members of the military alliance, according to the Financial Times. The proposals include a ban on Ukraine joining NATO and giving Moscow a vote on military deployments in member nations close to the country, which Stoltenberg said were both unacceptable. Arms control measures and prospective confidence-building efforts between NATO and Russia, according to Stoltenberg, may be possible areas for agreement. 

Then-Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was inside the Democratic National Committee headquarters on Jan. 6, 2021, when a pipe bomb was discovered outside the building, reports Politico. According to an official Capitol Police timeline of the events, the police began investigating the pipe bomb at 1:07 p.m. and the threat was neutralized at 4:36 p.m.

Israel began distributing Pfizer’s newly licensed Paxlovid anti-viral pill, using digital health records kept on practically every citizen to identify people who are at high risk for coronavirus and will likely benefit the most from treatment, says the Washington Post. Israel is one of the first countries to use the new pill, and the drug is being sent to the homes of qualified patients who test positive for coronavirus. Pfizer claimed that the pill decreased death and hospitalizations by 89 percent in clinical studies. While the medicine is also being dispensed in other countries, including the United States, critics believe the pill is not reaching clinicians quickly enough to relieve the strain on hospitals.

Officials in Xi’an, China, have been punished after allegations surfaced of people being refused life-saving medical care and running low on food due to a severe coronavirus lockdown implemented late last month, writes NBC News. Outrage over the lockdown has intensified in recent days as people share stories on social media.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of Poland’s ruling conservative party, revealed in an interview that the country purchased advanced spyware from Israel’s NSO Group, but he denied that it was used to target his political opponents, reports AP News. The Pegasus software is being used in many countries to combat crime and corruption, according to Kaczynski, and the use of such spyware likely originated as a result of the expanding use of encryption to conceal data in transit, which rendered earlier surveillance tools useless. The interview comes after Citizen Lab, a cyber watchdog group, found that three Polish government critics were hacked with Pegasus software. Amnesty International confirmed on Thursday that Polish lawmaker Krzysztof Brejza was hacked multiple times in 2019 while running the opposition’s parliamentary campaign.

During a back-and-forth with Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Thursday, Sen. Ted Cruz walked back his use of the word “terrorist” when describing the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, writes Politico. When Carlson asked Cruz why he used the term“terrorist attack,” Cruz dismissed his previous phrasing as “sloppy” and “frankly dumb.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Evelyn Douek, Quinta Jurecic and Jacob Schulz talk about content moderation issues in the shadow of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Bennett Clifford and Jon Lewis assessed domestic violent extremist actors, groups and movements one year after the Capitol siege.

Benjamin Wittes introduced the Aftermath, a new narrative podcast series from Lawfare and Goat Rodeo on picking up the pieces after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Roger Parloff discussed the outsized role the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers played on Jan. 6.

David Priess shared an episode of Chatter in which Priess sat down with Joanne Freeman to go through the history of violence on Capitol Hill and its relevance for the political situation today.

Jurecic, Andrew Kent and Wittes analyzed Attorney General Merrick Garland’s speech reviewing the Justice Department’s efforts to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the attack on the Capitol.

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast which featured Megan Stifel to go into a series of deep media dives on China technology issues and Scott Shapiro and Nick Weaver to walk through the conviction of a Harvard professor for lying about his China ties, along with a series of shorter updates.

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