Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Hadley Baker, Katherine Pompilio
Wednesday, May 4, 2022, 4:10 PM

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The Federal Reserve announced it would raise interest rates by half a percentage point to combat the “worst inflation America has seen in 40 years,” according to CNN. This is the first time in 22 years that the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates by such a high amount. According to a statement released by the central bank, interest rates will be raised because the already high rates of inflation are likely to be exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and coronavirus-related lockdowns in China. 

The bodies of 290 civilians were recovered in Irpin, Ukraine after the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine’s capital region, reports CNN. Irpin’s mayor wrote in a post on Facebook in which he noted that out of the 290 bodies discovered, 185 have been identified and that most of the deceased were men who had suffered injuries from shrapnel and gunshot wounds.  

The Belarusian military has begun large-scale military “quick-response” drills near the northern border of Ukraine, writes the Washington Post. Belarusian defense officials reported that the drills were intended to test the military’s preparedness for “possible crises” and address security threats from the air and ground. While Belarus’s Defense Ministry claimed that the training would “not pose any threat to…neighboring countries,” Ukrainian security officials are concerned that the Belarusian military may be planning to assist Russia with its invasion. 

The European Commission is proposing to remove Sberbank from the international SWIFT banking system, writes the New York Times. The U.S. had already banned the bank from using American financial payment systems on the day that Russia invaded Ukraine. This move comes just after the EU proposed a ban on Russian oil. 

The CIA published a set of instructions for Russians looking to share information with the U.S. government, according to the Washington Post. The agency posted the instructions on social media in the hopes that potential Russian informants would use an encrypted online service to offer intelligence to the U.S. about official Russian secrets without being caught by Russian state security. In the instructions, the CIA details that Russian informants should use the encrypted Tor Internet browser and virtual private networks to access a secure online channel to get information to the CIA. 

A cyber threat update from Google warned that foreign state-backed hackers are ramping up efforts to target critical infrastructure in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, reports the Hill. According to the update, state-backed hackers from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are taking advantage of the war in Ukraine to “lure in phishing and malware campaigns” to target critical infrastructure sectors such as telecommunications, manufacturing and energy. According to Google’s blog post, the hackers use “war-related themes” to get targeted individuals to click on malicious links and open malicious emails that deploy malware. 

Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate have proposed legislation to block the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new Disinformation Governance Board, which was announced last week, according to the Hill. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas noted that the board has no operational authority and would neither monitor U.S. citizens nor infringe on free speech.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast which features audio from Verify 2022—hosted by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Cyber Initiative and Aspen Digital—at which Benjamin Wittes sat down with Kori Schake, Meghan Stifel and Mieke Eoyang discuss cybersecurity and Ukraine.

Michael P. Fischerkeller explained that the Defense Department’s fact sheet summarizing the 2022 National Defense Strategy makes clear that campaigning is important for achieving security across the full spectrum of strategic competition and supporting integrated deterrence. 

Nicholas Weaver argued that the Office of Foreign Asset Control should sanction the mixing service Tornado Cash that is known to be hiding a large amount of stolen cryptocurrency.

Katherine Pompilio shared an episode of Lawfare No Bull which features audio from a fireside chat between Auruna Viswanatha and Matt Olsen at Verify 2022 about the newly released transparency report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk in which he sat down with Arnold Chang to discuss how Chinese ink painting survived the Chinese Communist Party.

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