Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Katherine Pompilio
Tuesday, April 5, 2022, 12:52 PM

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared before the United Nations Security Council to speak about alleged war crimes committed by the Russian military in Ukraine, according to the Associated Press. Zelenskyy—who appeared via video call—compared Russian forces to terrorists such as the Islamic State group and showed images and videos of bloody corpses strewn throughout the streets of cities and towns of Ukraine. Zelenskyy said, “The Russian military searched for and purposefully killed anyone who served our country. They shot and killed women outside their houses when they just tried to call someone who is alive. They killed entire families, adults and children, and they tried to burn the bodies.” Zelenskyy accused Russian forces of committing the worst war crimes since World War II, and demanded that the Russian military be brought to justice for their alleged crimes. 

The United States is working with Ukraine and other European countries to facilitate a vote at the United Nations to eject Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council, reports the Wall Street Journal. Russia has recently been accused of committing genocide and war crimes in Ukraine after images were released that showed the injured, lifeless bodies of civilians scattered across the streets of Ukrainian towns and cities such as Bucha that were formerly occupied by Russian forces. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. reported that “The images out of Bucha and devastation across Ukraine require us now to match our words with action. We cannot let a member state that is subverting every principle we hold dear to continue to sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.”

The U.S. Treasury Department announced it will bar Russia from using dollars from American accounts to pay its debts, writes Fortune. The move is intended to pressure Moscow into using alternative funding sources to pay bond investors. If Russia cannot access money in U.S. banks, it will ultimately be forced to tap into dollar reserves held within the country, spend new revenue or go into default, according to a spokesperson for the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.  

The U.S. successfully tested a hypersonic missile in mid-March, according to CNN. The Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept reportedly was launched from a B-52 bomber off of the west coast of the U.S. and traveled at hypersonic speeds. Defense officials report that the missile test was kept confidential until now because diplomatic officials were wary that the test would escalate tensions with Russia amid negotiations with European nations and Moscow about the war in Ukraine. 

A new flagship U.N. report on climate change warns that the world is on a “fast track” to disaster because harmful carbon emissions from 2010-2019 have never been higher throughout human history, reports U.N. News. The report by U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change insists that the world will soon be uninhabitable unless governments around the world reassess energy policy to reduce fossil fuel use and extend access to electricity, among other reforms. U.N. Secretary General António Guterres warned that “This is not fiction or exaggeration. It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies. We are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5-degree [Celsius, or 2.7-degrees Fahrenheit] limit [agreed upon in Paris in 2015.]”

The State Department launched a new cyber bureau intended to modernize the agency and address emerging technology issues in diplomacy, writes the Hill. The Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy will reportedly address “the national security challenges, economic opportunities, and implications for U.S. values associated with cyberspace, digital technologies, and digital policy.” The bureau will be made up of three policy units: international cyberspace security; international information and communications policy; and digital freedom. 

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will likely be confirmed to the Supreme Court as early as this week, according to CNN. After a deadlocked vote in the Senate Judiciary committee, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for a vote on the Senate floor to advance her nomination. Three Republican Senators—Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Lisa Murkowski—and every Democratic senator voted in support of Jackson in the procedural vote. If Jackson is confirmed, she will be the first Black woman to serve on the high court.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which David Priess sat down with Kori Schake and Natalie Orpett to discuss the legacy of Madeleine Albright. 

Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith—alongside eight other scholars—recommended principles for Electoral Count Act reform. 

Darrell West shared an episode of TechTank in which he sat down with Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic to discuss how to discourage extremism and harmful activities on social media platforms. 

Thomas Berry and Genevieve Nadeau argued that Congress should remedy dangerous weaknesses in the Electoral Count Act that invite uncertainty to the various roles of state and federal actors. 

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Katherine Pompilio is an associate editor of Lawfare. She holds a B.A. with honors in political science from Skidmore College.

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