Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Tuesday, February 8, 2022, 1:15 PM

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Russian President Vladimir Putin reported that he is willing to continue negotiating Russia’s security demands in Eastern Europe, but also warned of full-scale war between Russia and the West, reports the New York Times. After a five-hour meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron reported that the situation remains “extremely tense” and Putin said that the meeting could create “a foundation for our further steps.” Putin also reported that Russia is working on a new written response in its correspondence with NATO about security demands. He predicts that the dialogue between Russia and the West will likely continue despite NATO’s rejection of Moscow’s demands. Security analysts fear that Putin’s recent engagement in diplomacy is potentially a maneuver to buy time for Russia’s military to make final preparations for an invasion of Ukraine. 

President Biden announced that if Russia invades Ukraine, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project will not go forward, writes the New York Times. The announcement came after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz who had been vague about whether he would agree to terminate the pipeline project if Russia were to wage war on Ukraine. Biden reported that he and Scholz were “absolutely united” on the decision. The Nord Stream 2 project is an $11 billion 750 mile-long undersea pipeline that would deliver natural gas directly from Russia to Germany, according to CNN. 

The U.S. publicly barred former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez from entering the country, reports the Wall Street Journal. The State Department stated that the reasons for barred entry include alleged acts of corruption and illicit campaign financing. The department cited media reports and sworn witness testimony that Hernandez committed acts of corruption and drug trafficking, and used drug money for campaign financing. Hernandez is reportedly on the department’s Corrupt and Undemocratic Actors list.

The U.S. approved a $100 million sale of military equipment and services to Taiwan, writes CNN. A statement released by the Defense Department specifies that the sale includes engineering services to support the Patriot missile defense system. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed gratitude to the U.S. government’s “commitment to Taiwan’s security.” The ministry also said that, “Facing China's continuous military expansion and provocation, we will steadfastly protect national security, and deepen Taiwan-US security partnership.”

The U.S. will lift import tariffs on Japanese steel imposed by the Trump administration, reports the Wall Street Journal. Biden administration officials reported that the lift of tariffs will allow Japan to ship an annual 1.25 million metric tons of steel to the U.S. duty free. The agreement will reportedly help lower the costs of imported steel for U.S. buyers. In 2018, the Trump administration imposed tariffs of 25 percent for steel at 10 percent for aluminum, with the justification that oversupply of basic metals posed a national security threat. 

Ethiopian authorities in the country’s Oromia region accused a rebel group of killing at least 160 civilians and burying 87 bodies in a mass grave, according to BBC News. The killings took place in Oromia’s Gidami district after authorities pushed the rebel group–the Oromo Liberation Army–out of areas it previously controlled. The Oromo Liberation Army has not yet responded to the allegations. 

Top U.S. Republican officials voiced support for the self described “Freedom Convoy” of truckers protesting vaccine mandates in the streets of Ottawa, Canada, reports the Washington Post. Former President Trump released a statement calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “far-left lunatic” and urged the Canadian convoy to come to Washington to protest the United States’ coronavirus restrictions. The convoy also received public support from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Canada’s public safety minister Marco Mendicino denounced the Republican support. In a statement Mendicino said, “We’re Canadian. We have our own set of laws. We will follow them. We need to be vigilant about potential foreign interference. … Whatever statements may have been made by some foreign official are neither here nor there.”

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed Alabama to use a controversial map of the state’s U.S. congressional districts, writes Reuters. A lower court previously ruled that the map unlawfully deprived Black voters of an additional House district in which they could be a majority. The high court granted an emergency request by Alabama’s Republican secretary of state and two Republican legislators to halt the lower court’s injunctions ordering the state's Republican-led legislature to redraw the map. The decision was 5-4, with Justices Alito, Barrett, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Thomas in the majority opinion; and Justices Breyer, Kagan, Roberts and Sotomayor in dissent. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Benjamin Wittes sat down with Andy McCabe and Yasmin Cader and discussed the FBI’s investigation into the recent bomb threats at historically black colleges and universities. 

Jack Goldsmith and Oona Hathaway explained how the limited and informal system in place at the time of Snepp v. United States metastasized into a massive system restraining the speech of millions.

Darrell West shared an episode of TechTank in which Rep. Rho Khanna discussed his views of how technology has accentuated inequality, widened our political divide and threatened personal privacy, and the policy actions needed to address those issues.

Raquel Leslie and Brian Liu discussed the America COMPETES Act of 2022 passed by the House of Representatives.

Daphne Keller explained how the Adalah v. Cyber Unit ruling in Israel highlights an unresolved tension between widely held goals for restricting online content and the constitutionally permissible means available to achieve them.

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk in which Peter Martin and Jason Zhou discussed topics ranging from Xi Jinping’s father-in-law and his admiration for Thatcher to Tiananmen and rebuilding China back from diplomatic isolation. 

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