Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Wednesday, January 12, 2022, 2:03 PM

Inflation has reached its fastest pace in almost 40 years, hitting 7% in December 2021, reports the Associated Press. Economists suspect that the rapid rise in inflation and, consequently, prices of cars, gas, food and furniture are a result of the quick recovery from the pandemic recession. A recovery that was aided by government relief and the Federal Reserve’s emergency intervention that significantly lowered interest rates. The pandemic has exacerbated supply and demand imbalances as American consumers have increased spending, thus putting pressure on supply chains which has led to a shortage of workers and raw materials.   

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has issued subpoenas for records and testimony from one former White House official and two advisors to Donald Trump Jr., writes CNN. The former White House official subpoenaed is suspected to have helped draft the speech given by former President Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, that allegedly encouraged his supporters to attack the Capitol. The Jan. 6 committee has also subpoenaed the advisors to Trump Jr. because of their connections to Trump insiders with whom they were allegedly communicating immediately before the attack began. 

Top NATO and Russian officials met in Brussels in the first NATO-Russia Council meeting in over two years to discuss rising tensions concerning Ukraine, reports the Associated Press. The Russian delegation was led by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko and Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin. In the meeting, NATO rejected Russian security demands such as the withdrawal of NATO troops and military equipment from Ukraine and other bordering countries. Russian president Vladimir Putin also requested that NATO agree not to admit any more members into the alliance. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who attended the meeting, reported that Putin’s security demands are “non-starters.” 

In a speech on Tuesday in Atlanta, President Biden called for changes to filibuster rules in the Senate, according to the New York Times. Biden called on Democrats to eliminate the 60-vote threshold required to end a filibuster, specifically on voting rights legislation. Changes to the filibuster vote threshold would block the potential for filibusters on voting rights laws. The proposed laws would curtail voting rights restrictions and partisan gerrymandering. Biden’s call to action was met with strong opposition from Republicans. GOP party leaders such as Sen. Mitch McConnell warned that changing the current filibuster rule would “break the Senate.” 

The Biden administration has announced that it will offer 5 million free coronavirus testing kits to K-12  schools throughout the U.S, says the Wall Street Journal. The distribution of rapid tests to schools, in addition to the 500 million rapid-tests set to be distributed to the public, is a result of the administration’s effort to address testing shortages across the nation. In addition to rapid tests, the administration plans to increase lab capacity for an additional 5 million PCR tests a month for K-12 schools. 

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an appearance in the U.K. House of Commons to apologize for hosting a “lockdown BYOB” party at his residence amidst national outrage from U.K. citizens, according to the Washington Post. After denying this allegation in the past, Johnson admitted to hosting the party at his 10 Downing Street residence during the height of the U.K. coronavirus lockdown in May 2020. A now-published email invitation to the party revealed that over 100 staff members were invited to participate in the event, while U.K. citizens were encouraged by Johnson to isolate in their homes to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

During a rally against coronavirus restrictions in Sofia, Bulgaria, members of a crowd of approximately 3,000 people attempted to storm the Bulgarian parliament, reports Reuters. The crowd was protesting the institution of a mandatory health pass given to those who have been vaccinated, recently recovered from or have tested negative for the coronavirus. This pass is required in Bulgaria to gain entry into public places such as restaurants, cafes, gyms and shopping malls. Protestors engaged in brief physical altercations with police officers before breaking through protective barricades. The protestors were then able to reach the entrance to the parliament building where they did not attempt to break in, and instead asked representatives inside the building to come out and speak to their demands. 

The United States has imposed sanctions on six North Korean citizens, one Russian citizen and one Russian firm following a series of ballistic missile launches from North Korea that violated U.N. Security Council resolutions, writes Reuters. The seven people and one firm are said to be responsible for obtaining materials from Russia and China to bolster North Korea’s weapons programs.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast that explores the Charles Lieber case and the China Initiative. The episode features discussions with Emily Weinstein, a research analyst at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, and Margaret Lewis, a professor at Seton Hall Law School. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein advocated for the closure of Guantánamo Bay.

Rohini Kurup shared a lawsuit against Facebook’s parent company Meta over a killing tied to the far-right extremist boogaloo movement.

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