Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Emily Dai
Friday, December 17, 2021, 3:29 PM

Lawfare’s daily roundup of national security news and opinion.

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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The Senate approved a bipartisan bill on Thursday that would prohibit imports from China’s Xinjiang region unless the importer can prove that they were not made with forced labor, a move intended to hold China accountable for its treatment of the Muslim Uighur minority, according to the Washington Post. The House passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act earlier this week and Biden is expected to sign it into law. The new law comes after the Trump administration similarly issued a ban on cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang. China’s government has repeatedly denied that forced labor takes place in Xinjiang.

According to Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, the coronavirus will hit millions of Americans in a “viral blizzard” within a few weeks, writes CNN. As the holidays approach, hospitalizations are already on the rise and long lines for coronavirus testing formed Thursday in major cities. Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky predicted Friday that the omicron variant will soon become the dominant strain in the United States, as it has in other countries. 

A senior United Nations official said that the U.N. Human Rights Council voted on Friday to set up an independent investigation into abuses in the Ethiopian conflict, reports Reuters. The investigation is in response to reports that there have been violations on all sides and mass arrests as a result of a government crackdown. The resolution was passed despite objections from Ethiopia.

The U.S. Central Command said in an emailed statement that a drone was intercepted near a military base in southern Syria on Tuesday evening, reports the Hill. The drone was “assessed as demonstrating hostile intent and was shot down,” according to Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager turned whistleblower, expressed concerns that given the company’s notorious struggle to moderate content on its platforms, Meta will similarly have trouble controlling what is posted in the virtual “metaverse”, says CBS News. Haugen noted that unlike platforms like TikTok, where only a small portion of content generates most of the views, Meta is tasked with moderating a more distributed platform.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNBC that Russia’s economy may be in economic decline, but it still poses a tremendous military threat, notably in the areas of advanced weaponry and cyberwarfare. Stoltenberg’s comments come amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West as Russia continues to build up its troops on its Ukrainian border.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Nate Persily to talk about Persily’s proposal on creating a process through which academic researchers could gain access to information about the operation of online platforms.

Amir Cahane discussed how the Israel Security Agency tracked carriers of the omicron variant of the coronavirus with a contact-tracing tool and why it ended.

David Priess shared an episode of the Chatter Podcast in which Shane Harris talks with Noah Shachtman about Shacthman’s earlier career as a musician, how that prepared him for his new job and where journalism is succeeding and failing today.

Erica D. Lonergan and Lauren Zabierek analyzed some unresolved questions that policymakers must consider in exploring a role for the military in countering ransomware.

Rohini Kurup shared the summary of the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2022.
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Emily Dai is a junior at New York University studying Politics and Economics. She is an intern at Lawfare.

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