Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.
A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
U.S.- FRANCE RELATIONS
Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris yesterday, amid tensions between the U.S. and France following the Aukus security pact between the U.S., U.K. and Australia that led France to miss out on a submarine deal with Australia. A senior State Department official described Blinken’s official encounters as “very productive,” with talks focusing on defining potential areas for cooperation, including the Indo-Pacific region, counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel region of northwest Africa, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. However, both the U.S. and the French agreed that work remains to mend the relationship rocked by Aukus pact. Courtney McBride reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Brussels and E.U. member states are blaming Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for holding up President Biden’s nominations for national security and diplomatic positions, including ambassadors to NATO, the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation, and several European countries including France. Cruz has publicly pledged to slow-walk Biden’s nominations in a bid to pressure Biden to impose mandatory sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, a Russian-German project opposed by the U.S. The E.U. believes that Cruz’s actions are impacting the E.U.’s ability to work effectively with Washington and contributed to the diplomatic tensions between France and the U.S. after Biden announced the Aukus partnership. David M. Herszenhorn and Andrew Desiderio report for POLITICO.
Macron said yesterday that he hoped to close a rift with Biden when the pair meet in Rome during the meeting of the Group of 20 (G20) countries at the end of the month, saying he wanted France and the U.S. to once again work together “in good faith.” “We need to look with lucidity at the decisions taken by our allies. There were choices that were made and I can’t say that France and Europe were taken into account, but we have a history that is bigger [than this],” Macron said as he arrived at a summit of E.U. leaders in Slovenia. “We will catch up during the G20. I think it is the right occasion to see how we can re-engage,” Macron added. Robin Emmott and Ivana Sekularac report for Reuters.
Biden “had not been fully aware” of the negative impact on France of the Aukus pact and submarine deal, even after it was announced, the special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry has said. Kerry, in an interview with French broadcaster BFMTV, said Biden “literally had not been aware of what had transpired,” and only became aware of the situation after he asked the former Secretary of State. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.
Bitterness about the Aukus deal boiled over during a television appearance Blinken made on France 2, where the interviewer raised France’s anger, incomprehension, and sense of betrayal over the deal. Blinken, speaking French, said he understood the sense of betrayal and that Americans realize they “could have — we should have — done better, in terms of communication,” admitting that, “above all, we sometimes tend to take for granted a relationship as important and deep as the one between France and the United States.” Kylie Atwood and Nicole Gaouette report for CNN.
CHINA AND TAIWAN
President Biden has said that he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about Taiwan and that the two leaders agreed to “abide by the Taiwan agreement.” However, it is not clear what agreement Biden was referring to, and whether Biden was commenting on Washington’s “longstanding ‘one-China policy’ under which it officially recognises Beijing rather than Taipei, grounded in the Three Joint Communiques, the Six Assurances, & the Taiwan Relations Act, which makes clear the U.S. decision to establish diplomatic ties with Beijing instead of Taiwan rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means… In his comments about Taiwan, Biden also appeared to be referencing a 90-minute call he held with Xi on Sept. 9, their first talks in seven months, in which they discussed the need to ensure that competition between the world’s two largest economies does not veer into conflict,” Helen Davison for the Guardian.
President Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will hold talks with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Switzerland today. The meeting in Zurich follows on from Biden’s Sept. 9 call with Chinese President Xi Jinping “as we continue to seek to responsibly manage the competition between the United States and the People’s Republic of China,” the White House said in a statement. In a brief statement on Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry said Yang and Sullivan will “exchange views on China-U.S. relations and relevant issues” during their Zurich meeting. Steve Holland and David Brunnstrom, Michael Martina report for Reuters.
Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng has said that China will be capable of mounting a full scale invasion of Taiwan by 2025 and that tensions between Taiwan and China are at their worst in 40 years. Chiu’s comments come after China sent an unprecedented number of warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense zone, sparking international concern. BBC News reports.
Chiu is pushing for a new arms spending package, amid the heightened tensions between China and Taipei. “For me as a military man, the urgency is right in front of me,” he told a parliamentary committee reviewing an extra military spending plan worth T$240 billion ($8.6 billion) over the next five years for homemade weapons including missiles and warships. Chiu also warned that there was a risk of a “misfire” across the sensitive Taiwan Strait. Reuters reports.
A cable to all of the CIA’s global station officials from the organization’s counterintelligence mission center has warned that a troubling number of U.S. informants recruited from other countries had been captured or killed in the last few years, sources have said. The increase was detected after the center conducted an internal review looking at dozens of cases in the past several years involving foreign informants who had been killed, arrested or most likely compromised. The cable, which was addressed to the CIA’s front-line intelligence gathers, voiced concerns with the prioritization of recruiting more sources without thoroughly vetting them. Notably, the cable contained the specific number of informants who had been detained or executed by rival intelligence agencies. Julian E. Barnes and Adam Goldman report for the New York Times.
The CIA’s cable cautioned CIA officers to take greater care in handling human information sources. “The cable reflected a general concern among the agency’s leadership that its operations officers should pay more attention to protecting their agents, while also recognizing that they have to aggressively recruit spies and informants to perform their intelligence-collection mission…Such notices to the field…are routine, former officials said. People familiar with the recent cable said it wasn’t prompted by any new penetration of a spy network. But, they added, the cable underscored concerns that CIA officers may be putting recruitment ahead of basic source-protection techniques,” Shane Harris reports for the Washington Post.
The large number of compromised informants in the last few years highlights how adversarial intelligence services in countries such as Russia, China, Iran, and Pakistan have improved their own intelligence tradecraft and utilized new technology like biometric scans, facial recognition, and artificial intelligence to better track the movements of CIA officers and their sources. Case officers who recruit sources are also incentivized through promotions to recruit more sources, which leads to the prioritization of “mission over security.” The number of sources turned against the U.S. is not fully known, but some sources who are discovered by foreign intelligence agencies are redeployed as double agents who feed the CIA damaging misinformation. Julian E. Barnes and Adam Goldman report for the New York Times.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
The U.S. is offering a $5 million dollar reward for information that leads to the arrest of notorious Guinea Bissauan drug trafficker Antonio Indjai after an attempt to lure the drug trafficker into international waters on his yacht failed. Indjai lives openly in the West African nation and is a supporter of its current president, which has suffered two coups, a civil war, an attempted power grab, and a presidential assassination in the last 17 years. Danielle Paquette for the Washington Post.
Democratic and Republican senators urged President Biden yesterday to expel 300 Russian diplomats from the U.S. if Moscow does not issue more visas for Americans to represent Washington in Russia. The suggestion came from the leaders of the Senate foreign relations and intelligence committee: Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Mark Warner (D -VA), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). “Russia in August banned the U.S. embassy in Moscow from retaining, hiring or contracting Russian or third-country staff, except for guards, forcing the mission to let go 182 employees and dozens of contractors, the State Department said. That meant there are only about 100 U.S. diplomats in Russia, compared with 400 Russian diplomats across the United States, the senators said,” Reuters reports.
The mooted congressional proposal to expel 300 Russian diplomats from the U.S. would lead to the closure of U.S. diplomatic facilities in Russia if implemented, Russia’s foreign ministry has said. “Those proposing such steps are apparently pushing for the closure of U.S. foreign institutions in Russia,” Russia’s foreign ministry said, the Interfax news agency reported. “They must understand that the blame for this will lie with them,” the ministry said. Reuters reports.
The U.S. nuclear power regulator, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), last month suspended the shipment of radioactive materials and a hydrogen isotope used in reactors to China’s largest state-owned nuclear company, China General Nuclear Power Group or CGN, reflecting Washington’s concerns about China’s buildup of atomic weapons. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in the order, dated Sept. 27, that the White House had determined that the suspension was “necessary to further the national security interests of the United States and to enhance the United States common defense and security consistent with the Atomic Energy Act of 1954.” Reuters reporting.
The discovery of two inactive grenades inside a vehicle led to a seven-hour closure of Canada-bound traffic on the Ambassador Bridge border closing with the U.S. The inert grenades were found submerged in an unidentified white powdery substance, leading to the closure of the bridge from about 9 a.m. to about 4 p.m. Monday. No criminal charges will be brought against the U.S. man driving the vehicle, police said. Associated Press reports.
The U.S. Army is investigating the raising of a Confederate flag at a U.S. military base in Germany earlier this week. According to a service spokesperson an “unknown individual” stole the American and German national flags from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment headquarters building at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany and “the confederate battle flag was also raised on a flag pole outside of the Regimental Headquarters,” the spokesperson said. Davis Winkie reports for the Army Times.
Mexico has said that it wants to see faster extraditions of suspects from the U.S. and fewer guns coming across the border at security meetings scheduled for Friday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “It is important that you, United States, take effective, efficient actions to drastically reduce the illegal trafficking of weapons,” said Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard. “Ebrard also called for ‘quick judicial assistance,’ suggesting that while Mexico had extradited suspects quickly to the United States, it wasn’t the same pace the other way around,” Associated Press reports.
Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen said on Tuesday in testimony to a Senate commerce subcommittee that Facebook is destabilizing democracies and harming children. She claimed that Facebook’s leader, Mark Zuckerberg, chose not to implement “changes that would have significantly decreased misinformation, hate speech and other inciting content” because they would have limited “meaningful social interactions.” She also said Facebook is “literally fanning ethnic violence” in places like Ethiopia because of inadequate content monitoring outside of the U.S. Haugen was the source of internal documents published by the Wall Street Journal last month that revealed the company knew Instagram damaged teens’ mental health and that changes to their news feed made the platform more polarizing. Dan Milmo and Kari Paul for the Guardian.
Key takeaways from Haugen’s hearing before Senate lawmakers, including the more sophisticated approach that Republican and Democratic lawmakers are taking towards tech and algorithms, are provided by Sheera Frenkel reporting for the New York Times.
Haugen urged lawmakers yesterday to increase the regulation of Facebook. During her testimony, “Haugen gave lawmakers information on what other data they should ask Facebook for, which could then lead to proposals to regulate the Silicon Valley giant as it increasingly faces questions about its global reach and power,” Cecilia Kang reports for the New York Times.
Yesterday evening Zuckerberg addressed the whistle-blower leaks for the first time, rebutting claims that Facebook prioritized engagement for profit, including engagement of harmful content. “He said that news coverage had been misleading about the company’s motives and that the company’s research had been taken out of context. He said it was ‘deeply illogical’ that Facebook would prioritize harmful content because advertisers don’t want to buy ads on a platform that amplifies hate and misinformation,” Cecilia Kang reports for the New York Times.
Just Security has published the first part in a three part series examining the fallout from the Facebook Files series recently published by the Wall Street Journal: “The Fallout from the Facebook Files – Part 1” by April Falcon Doss.
The outage of Facebook-owned apps like WhatsApp on Monday underscored how heavily people across the world rely on the company’s services for communication as well as the how governments have used WhatsApp to communicate with their citizens. Amy Cheng reports for the Washington Post.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
Former Vice President Pence has accused the media of using the Jan. 6 attack “to try and demean the character and intentions of 74 million Americans” who voted for former President Trump. Pence’s comments come as new reporting from renowned journalist Bob Woodward and Washington Post journalist Robert Costa revealed Pence asked advisors if there was a way he could avoid certifying the result of the election on Jan. 6. Pence even reached out to former Vice President Quayle, who told him that he had to certify the election. Donna Cassata reports for the Washington Post.
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has been unable to locate Dan Scavino, a former aide of Trump, to physically serve a subpoena on him requiring him to cooperate with the committee’s investigation, sources have said. The committee subpoenaed Scavino more than a week ago, however they have been unable to physically serve the subpoena on him. “The news comes just days before the committee’s deadline for Scavino and three other close allies of the former President to comply with subpoenas requesting documents by October 7 and a deposition by October 15. The other Trump aides who have been subpoenaed include former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former adviser Steve Bannon and Kash Patel, a former chief of staff to then-acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller. Patel has acknowledged he’s received the committee’s subpoena. It appears that the committee has been successful in their attempts to serve subpoenas to the other two Trump allies,” Ryan Nobles, Zachary Cohen and Annie Grayer report for CNN.
Meadows and the other top former aides of Trump subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack are expected to defy orders for documents and testimony related to the attack, a source familiar with the matter has said. Meadows, Scavino, Bannon, and Patel are expected to resist the orders because Trump and his legal team, led by former deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin, are increasingly concerned with the far-reaching nature of the Jan. 6 investigation and are preparing to direct the attorneys for the subpoenaed aides to defy the orders, the source said. “The select committee had issued the subpoenas under the threat of criminal prosecution in the event of non-compliance, warning that the penalty for defying a congressional subpoena would be far graver under the Biden administration than during the Trump presidency,” Hugo Lowell reports for the Guardian.
On Tuesday the FBI raided the offices of the Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA), the New York City police union that represents 13,000 active and retired New York sergeants. Federal agents also raided the Long Island home of the union’s leader, Ed Mullins. Mullins faces disciplinary proceedings for tweeting New York Police Department paperwork related to the arrest of Chiara De Blasio, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio’s daughter, during the racial justice protests last summer. Agents said the raid was part of an ongoing investigation but did not give further details. Associated Press reports.
In a letter to SBA members, the union’s executive board said that it asked Mullins to resign and that he has agreed. “The nature and scope of this criminal investigation has yet to be determined. However, it is clear that President Mullins is apparently the target of the federal investigation. We have no reason to believe that any other member of the SBA is involved or targeted in this matter,” the SBA’s executive board said in the message. Jonathan Dienst, Tom Winter and Corky Siemaszko report for NBC News.
Canadian energy company Enbridge reimbursed U.S. police $2.4 million for arresting and surveilling hundreds of protestors who demonstrated against it’s Line 3 pipeline. The Line 3 pipeline carries a heavy oil called bitumen from Alberta to Lake Superior in Wisconsin. Enbridge is replacing parts of the pipeline in Minnesota. Police have arrested more than 900 demonstrators opposed to Line 3 and its climate impact. Hilary Beaumont for the Guardian.
House Homeland Security Committee ranking member Rep. John Katko (R-NY) and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) have introduced legislation to help the federal government identify and further protect certain critical groups from cyberattacks. “The Securing Systemically Important Critical Infrastructure Act would authorize the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to establish a process to designate groups as systemically important critical infrastructure (SICI). CISA would be required to work with sector risk management agencies to establish the criteria around what organizations qualify as SICI, and ensure CISA gives owners and operators of these key groups access to priority cybersecurity programs,” Maggie Miller reports for The Hill.
National Security Agency (NSA) Director Paul Nakasone predicted yesterday that he expected the U.S. to face ransomware attacks “every single day” over the next five years. During a conversation at cybersecurity firm Mandiant’s Cyber Defense Summit, Nakasone predicted that the rate of ransomware attacks will not slow down and said efforts to counter those threats must remain constant as well. Maggie Miller reports for The Hill.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The Defense Department has begun the “continuous vetting” of its employees, including those with security clearance, as part of a new process designed to spot extremists and other insider threats. The new vetting process will continuously scan government and commercial databases for any aberrations, replacing the previous system which scrutinized such information every five to 10 years, defense officials have announced. The new system will raise flags when new information arrives, and follows years of effort to comply with a 2011 executive order to improve on the current security-clearance process. Screening troops’ and Defense Department employees’ social media posts for extremist views or behavior will also likely become part of the vetting soon. Patrick Tucker reports for Defense One.
Lawmakers, inspired by the Pandora Papers leaks of offshore accounts and tax havens used by influential individuals and politicians around the world, are planning to unveil a new anti-corruption bill. The bill, dubbed the ENABLERS Act, will likely be introduced on Friday and would require lawyers, PR firms, accountants and others to check if their clients’ money is dirty. “It is incumbent upon us democracies to purge the dirty money in our systems, deny corrupt foreign officials safe haven, and stand with the victims of kleptocracy,” Reps. John Curtis (R-UT) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), the co-chairs of a new congressional caucus against kleptocracy, said in a joint statement. Nahal Toosi reports for POLITICO.
Joel Greenberg, who pleaded guilty to six federal crimes and is a former close associate with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has asked a judge to delay his sentencing, currently scheduled for Nov. 18, until March 2022. In a motion filed yesterday, Greenberg “asked that the sentencing be delayed so he can continue to cooperate with federal investigators. Prosecutors don’t object to the postponement, according to the motion,” Matt Dixon reports for POLITICO.
The Texas parole board has unanimously voted to recommend that George Floyd receive a posthumous pardon for a low-level drug charge in 2004. “The 7-0 vote Monday from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles came after allegations the former Houston police officer involved in the case likely lied during Mr. Floyd’s arrest for the minor drug charge, for which Mr. Floyd served time in jail, and falsified evidence in other arrests. The final decision now rests with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican,” Jennifer Calfas reports for the Wall Street Journal.
ISRAEL AND IRAN
President Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told his Israeli counterpart yesterday that diplomacy is the best way to rein in Iran’s nuclear program, while reaffirming Biden’s warning to Tehran that Washington could turn to other options if negotiations fail. “Sullivan hosted Israeli national security adviser Eyal Hulata for talks which, according to a U.S. official, gave the two allies a chance to share intelligence and develop a ‘baseline assessment’ of how far Tehran’s nuclear program has advanced… Sullivan…‘emphasized President Biden’s fundamental commitment to Israel’s security and to ensuring that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon,’ the White House said in a statement. ‘Sullivan explained that this administration believes diplomacy is the best path to achieve that goal, while also noting that the president has made clear that if diplomacy fails, the United States is prepared to turn to other options,’ it added,” Reuters reports.
Israel’s military chief has vowed to step up actions, including covert operations, against Iran and its nuclear program. Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi said Israel and its intelligence community “is working against Iranian regional entrenchment throughout the Middle East.” “Operations to destroy Iranian capabilities will continue — in various arenas and at any time,” Kohavi told a ceremony in which Israel’s army appointed Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva as its new intelligence chief. Associated Press reports.
Talks on reviving Iran’s nuclear deal will resume soon in Vienna, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was quoted as saying at a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow. “Interfax news agency reported Amirabdollahian as saying Tehran had received ‘signals’ that Washington was once again interested in implementing [the 2015 nuclear deal],” Reuters reports.
Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders have met with U.K. and Iranian officials for the first time since taking power. The Taliban’s meeting with British diplomats in Kabul came a day after they met with an Iranian delegation to discuss trade relations, a key driver of Afghanistan’s economy. “The Taliban met with Sir Simon Gass, the British prime minister’s high representative for Afghan transition, and Martin Longden, the chargé d’affaires of the U.K. mission to Afghanistan in Doha…. After the meeting, Longden tweeted that ‘substantial discussions’ were held with the Taliban leadership covering a wide range of topics, including the humanitarian crisis, terrorism and the importance for safe passage for U.K. and Afghan nationals, and the rights of women and girls. He fell short of recognizing their government officially,” Samya Kullab reports for AP.
Senate Republicans have introduced legislation that would create a bipartisan select committee composed of members of the House and Senate to investigate President Biden’s administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. The effort is being led by Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Rick Scott (R-FL). Laura Kelly reports for The Hill.
Half of Afghanistan’s children under five years old are expected to suffer acute malnutrition by the end of the year, U.N. agencies have warned, adding that without immediate treatment at least a million are at risk of dying. “Acute food insecurity is affecting 14 million people in Afghanistan who are without reliable access to water, food and basic health and nutrition services, following years of conflict and the economic crisis, which has been exacerbated following the Taliban takeover in August,” UN News Centre reports.
Rural Afghans are continuing to live with the painful U.S. legacy in Afghanistan. The villagers and farmers living in Afghanistan’s hinterlands were often trapped in the crossfire between the Taliban and U.S. forces and their allies – with many becoming casualties of U.S. counterterrorism operations, drone strikes and gun battles. “‘Everyone here hated the Americans,’ said Zabiullah Haideri, 30. His shop was shattered by an airstrike in 2019 that killed 12 villagers. ‘They murdered civilians and committed atrocities,’” Sudarsan Raghavan reports for the Washington Post.
The end of the conflict in Afghanistan marked the first time in U.S. history that a major conflict ended without the U.S. military leaving any troops behind: with no soldiers missing in action behind enemy lines, or any nameless or unidentified bodies. Dave Philipps reports for the New York Times.
American weapons and military accessories are being openly sold in shops by Afghan gun dealers, following the withdrawal of U.S. troops and the Taliban takeover. The dealers pay government soldiers and Taliban fighters for guns, ammunition and other material, according to weapons dealers in Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan. The equipment now being sold in the shops was originally provided to the Afghan security forces under a U.S. training and assistance program. Ruhullah Khapalwak and David Zucchino report for the New York Times.
Hundreds of Afghans have crowded the passport office in Kabul today, after it was announced yesterday that it would reopen this week to restart issuing documents. Taliban security men beat back some of the crowd in an effort to maintain order outside the passport office. Gibran Naiyyar Peshimam and Jorge Silva report for Reuters.
Southeast Asian countries are discussing not inviting the head of Myanmar’s junta to an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit later this month, due to a lack of progress on an agreed roadmap to restore peace in Myanmar. The junta’s inaction on a five-point plan it agreed in April with ASEAN was “tantamount to backtracking,” Erywan Yusof, the bloc’s special envoy to Myanmar, told a news conference today. Ain Bandial reports for Reuters.
Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi this month will give courtroom testimony for the first time in one of the several corruption cases against her. Suu Kyi “and two co-defendants charged with incitement will testify in their own defense but will not call any other witnesses, said lawyer Khin Maung Zaw. Suu Kyi’s testimony is scheduled to begin Oct. 26,” Associated Press reports.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Libyans parliament voted yesterday to postpone Libya’s parliamentary and presidential elections by a month. The move is likely to increase tensions among rivals in the country who are already divided over bills regulating the planned elections. As part of those bills, the presidential and parliamentary election were both supposed to take place on December 24 according to a U.N.-brokered plan. Associated Press reports.
The U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, has met with the prime minister of Yemen’s internationally recognized government in the port city of Aden. Grundberg met with Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed in Mashiq Palace, the U.N. mission said in a tweet. “They discussed the latest political developments, and the U.N. envoy reiterated the importance of the Riyadh Agreement, which ended the fighting between government forces and United Arab Emirates-backed southern separatists, the mission said. Grundberg also met with Aydarous al-Zubaidi, the head of the separatists’ Southern Transitional Council, according to the council,” Ahmed Al-Haj reports for AP.
Haiti’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Claude Joseph, has called on the U.N. Security Council for help dealing with Haiti’s increasing gang violence and crime. Joseph told the U.N. Security Council on Monday “that the existing U.N. political mission needs to pivot towards strengthening security and law enforcement institutions in Haiti, which is also in the midst of a political crisis made deeper by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July,” Al Jazeera reports.
Lawmakers in Egypt voted to rebuild the country’s National Council for Human Rights. Early this month, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi released a 70-page plan detailing how Egypt will work to protect human rights over the next five years. The announcement came days before President Biden’s administration announced that it would condition $130 million of the $1.3 in aid the U.S. gives to Egypt each year. Siobhán O’Grady reports for the Washington Post.
Ethiopian Airlines, Ethiopia’s flagship commercial airline, has been used by Ethiopia’s government to shuttle weapons to and from neighboring Eritrea during the civil war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, a CNN investigation has found. Documents, eyewitness accounts and photographic evidence “confirm that arms were transported between Addis Ababa’s international airport and airports in the Eritrean cities of Asmara and Massawa on board multiple Ethiopian Airlines planes in November 2020 during the first few weeks of the Tigray conflict. It’s the first time this weapons trade between the former foes has been documented during the war. Experts said the flights would constitute a violation of international aviation law, which forbids the smuggling of arms for military use on civil aircraft,” Nima Elbagir, Gianluca Mezzofiore, Katie Polglase and Barbara Arvanitidis report for CNN.
Mali’s foreign ministry has summoned France’s ambassador to Bamako over comments by French President Emmanuel Macron that it said were unfriendly and disagreeable. The move follows the U.N. General Assembly where Mali’s Interim Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga accused France of a “sort of abandonment in full flight” over its decision to reduce its military deployment in the semi-arid Sahel region. Macron later told French media that Maiga’s comments were “unacceptable” and suggested that Mali’s government was “not even really one” – because of the coup in Mali led by Colonel Assimi Goita in May. “The war of words continued on Tuesday when Macron called on Mali’s ruling military to restore state authority in large areas of the country abandoned in the face of the armed uprising. ‘It’s not the role of the French army to fill in for the ‘non-work’, if I may describe it, of the Malian state,’ he told French media,” Al Jazeera reports.
The coronavirus has infected over 43.95 million and has now killed over 705,200 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 235.85 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 4.81 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
The Chinese government and state media have exploited gaps in search results on platforms like Google, Youtube, and Bing to advance conspiracy theories about the origin of the coronavirus, including that the virus was created in a lab at llume Detrick, a military base in Maryland. According to a report by The Technology 202, the Chinese government and state media has filled the internet with misleading or false content on topics where there is less reliable information available, which means search engines are more likely to display these conspiracy theories. Cristiano Lima reports for the Washington Post.
From January through May, coronavirus vaccines prevented 39,000 deaths, 265,000 cases, and 107,000 hospitalizations among Medicare recipients in the U.S., according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The Department also found that for every 10 percentage point increase in the county’s vaccination rate, the number of Covid hospitalizations and deaths among Medicare recipients fell 11 to 12 percent. Richard Pérez-Peña reports for the New York Times.
Australian company Ellume, which makes a popular at home coronavirus test, has recalled 200,000 test kits because of concerns about a higher-than-expected rate of false positives. The recall affects about 5.6 percent of the 2.5 million test kits Ellume estimates it shipped to the U.S because of variations in the quality of one of the raw materials used in the kits. Some kits provided to the U.S. Department of Defense were affected with the problem. The issue did not affect the reliability of negative test results. Emily Anthes for the New York Times.
A map and analysis of the vaccine roll out across the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
U.S. and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.
A state-by-state guide to lockdown measures and reopenings is provided by the New York Times.
Latest updates on the pandemic at the Guardian.