Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Friday, January 14, 2022, 1:37 PM

The House select committee on the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has issued subpoenas to Twitter, Reddit and the parent companies for Facebook and Youtube, according to the Washington Post. The tech firms are accused of failing to provide complete information about the spread of misinformation on their platforms that allegedly “fomented” the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The subpoenas were issued after complaints from the committee chairman that the companies were providing “inadequate responses” to requests for information. The committee plans to investigate, “how the spread of misinformation and violent extremism contributed to the violent attack on our democracy, and what steps - if any - social media companies took to prevent their platforms from being breeding grounds to radicalizing people to violence.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has announced that she will not support changing Senate filibuster rules to pass legislation under “any circumstances,” says the New York Times. The announcement came two days after President Biden delivered a speech in Atlanta encouraging members of his party to alter the 60-vote threshold rule for the filibuster on voting rights legislation. Sinema joins fellow Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin and her Republican colleagues in their opposition to the proposed rule change. Without the support of Sinema and Manchin, Democrats are unlikely to successfully change the filibuster rules. 

The Biden administration has intelligence that Russia is planning to conduct a false flag operation soon in Ukraine in an attempt to create a pretext for invasion, writes Politico. Intelligence suggests that a group of operatives “trained in urban warfare and in using explosives” has been placed by Russia in eastern Ukraine. The group may “carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s own proxy-forces,” which would provide the Kremlin with an excuse to invade the nation. 

The Ukrainian government was hit with a “massive” cyberattack, reports the Washington Post. Unidentified hackers blocked access to government websites and displayed warning messages to “expect the worst” when users attempted to connect to the sites. The deputy head of Ukraine’s state agency of special communication and information protection reported that “close to 70” government websites were hacked. The Ukrainian government has indicated that it believes Russia is to blame for the attack. 

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) shut down the ransomware criminal organization known as REvil and arrested several of its members, writes BBC News. With information provided by U.S. intelligence agencies, the FSB was able to seize over 1 million dollars in U.S. currency, euros, rubles and crypto-currency in addition to over 20 illegally obtained luxury cars from REvil associates. Russian leaders claim that REvil has “developed malicious software” and “organized the theft of money from the bank accounts of foreign citizens.” REvil is suspected to be responsible for previous cyberattacks on major global companies and state infrastructures such as the attack on the Colonial Pipeline that led to gas shortages on the east coast of the U.S..

In its third test this month, North Korea has fired two more ballistic missiles, according to the New York Times. Two short-range ballistic missiles were launched and flew approximately 267 miles before crashing into the ocean. The test came hours after the North Korean government warned of a “stronger and certain reaction” if the U.S. helped to impose more sanctions on the country in response to the recent missile tests. All of North Korea’s tests conducted this month violate U.N. Security Council resolutions. 

Prosecutors in Cuba put 60 Cuban citizens charged with crimes, including sedition, on trial for their involvement in protesting the government’s response to the nation's economic crisis, writes the New York Times. Detained protestors face up to 30 years in prison. The initiation of these mass trials are reported to deepen the government’s harshest crackdown on its citizens since the early years of the Cuban revolution. The protests, which occurred last July, were in response to the “mismanagement” of  Cuba’s spiraling inflation, recurring power outages and worsening food and medicine shortages.

A 6.6 magnitude earthquake in the Indian Ocean shook parts of Indonesia’s main island of Java, reports the Associated Press. Damages to houses and buildings were reported as a result of the shakes. Despite the damages, no casualties were reported. Officials claim there is no danger of a tsunami. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic sit down with Valerie Wirtschafter and Chris Meserol to discuss their analysis of how popular podcasters on the American right use their shows to spread the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Quinta Jurecic published a book review of Matt Carlson, Seth C. Lewis, and Sue Robinson, “News After Trump: Journalism’s Crisis of Relevance in a Changed Media Culture” (Oxford University Press, 2021).

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast in which Baker, Tatyana Bolton, Glenn Gerstell and Mark MacCarthy discuss topics ranging from the Federal Trade Commission’s statement on log4j vulnerability to the lawsuit against Facebook/Meta Platforms over a killing tied to the far-right extremist boogaloo movement.

Klon Kitchen and Bill Drexel analyzed the need for U.S. action to secure the technological dimensions of a looming Taiwan crisis. 

David Priess shared an episode of the Chatter Podcast in which he and Shane Harris sit down with John Sipher, a former senior intelligence officer who has “gone Hollywood” to discuss how Sipher brings his compelling and accurate stories about espionage to the big screen. 

Bryce Klehm and Rohini Kurup shared the indictment of 11 Oath Keepers including Stewart Rhodes, founder and leader of the far-right group, in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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