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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
The United States and Bahrain are expected to sign a strategic security and economic agreement this week. The agreement would update the U.S. security commitment to Bahrain, including to consult and provide assistance if Bahrain faces an imminent security threat. One source said the agreement will be legally binding, though it will not include a NATO-style Article 5 commitment, whereby an attack on Bahrain would be considered an attack on the United States. Barak Ravid reports for Axios.
The Biden administration cleared $6 billion in frozen Iranian oil funds for transfer as part of a prisoner exchange agreement to secure the release of five U.S. citizens in Iran. The move has drawn criticism from Republicans opposed to the clearance of funds. The announcement comes as President Biden and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi prepare for the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York next week. John Hudson reports for the Washington Post.
The United States and Armenia began joint military exercises yesterday, signaling the possible realignment of a Russian neighbor that has been a close ally to Moscow for almost 200 years. Despite being a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the former Soviet nations’ answer to NATO, Armenia has been drifting away from the Russian sphere of influence, particularly since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Thomas Grove and Vivian Salama reports for the Wall Street Journal.
China has been using the wildfires that swept across Maui last month to spread disinformation and sow distrust in the United States. Social media posts said a U.S. “weather weapon caused the wildfires” and were accompanied by images that appeared to be generated by artificial intelligence. Where China previously used its disinformation campaigns to boost its Taiwan propaganda, the recent revelations by researchers from Microsoft and other organizations suggest China is making more direct attempts to undermine public unity in the United States. David E. Sanger and Steven Lee Myers report for the New York Times.
Abraham T. Lemma, a contractor who worked for the State and Justice Departments, has been charged with spying for Ethiopia and was taken into custody last month. Little is known about the case, which remains sealed in Federal District Court in Washington but could be made public this week. The United States and Ethiopia have a longstanding partnership. Adam Goldman and Glenn Thrush report for the New York Times.
John Shing-Wan Leung, a 78-year-old U.S. citizen in Hong Kong sentenced to life in prison in May, was a decorated spy who had worked for U.S. intelligence for over 30 years, China claims. Chinese authorities provided no details about his case in May, except that Shing-Wan Leung was arrested by state security officers in April 2021. Nectar Gan reports for CNN.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – GLOBAL RESPONSE
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un heads to Russia for a “full-blown” visit with President Vladimir Putin, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday. Putin is turning to North Korea to replenish ammunition stockpiles, while North Korea may try to secure food aid and advanced weapons technology. Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Catherine Belton reports for the Washington Post.
The Biden administration is nearing a final decision on delivering longer-range missiles filled with cluster bombs to Ukraine, according to four U.S. officials. The administration has been slow to give Ukraine long-range capabilities in case it would be seen as an overly aggressive move against Russia. However, Ukraine’s recent success with U.S. cluster munitions has prompted the Biden administration to attempt to boost Ukrainian gains. Mike Stone reports for Reuters.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Russia targeted a civilian cargo vessel with multiple cruise missiles in the Ukrainian port of Odesa in August, the U.K. has alleged. Ukrainian air defenses thwarted the attack, the U.K.’s foreign office said. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak yesterday said the attempted attack demonstrated “just how desperate Putin is.” Matt Murphy reports for BBC News.
Ukraine has retaken control of several oil and gas platforms in the Black Sea after clashes with Russian aerial and maritime forces, a video released by Ukrainian military intelligence shows. Russia used the platforms as forward deployment bases and helicopter landing sites in the Black Sea, crucial for strangling Ukraine’s economy and exacerbating global food shortages. Marc Santora reports for the Wall Street Journal.
As 30 allied European countries spend more on weapons, there are growing concerns that their efforts will be disjointed, duplicated, and delayed. “Europeans have not addressed the deeply fragmented and disorganized manner in which they generate their forces,” a recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies states. Despite the NATO and E.U. push for greater cooperation and strategic planning, countries often have their own strategic culture, procurement practices, specifications, approval processes, training, and priorities. Patricia Cohen reports for the New York Times.
Israel’s Supreme Court will today hear petitions to strike down the controversial judicial overhaul laws. The law removes the court’s ability to strike down government decisions it deems to be “unreasonable in the extreme.” Striking down these judicial overhaul laws would be akin to the court striking down a constitutional amendment. Dov Lieber and Anat Peled report for the Wall Street Journal.
About ten people have died after five days of fighting in Ein el-Hilweh, a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, between the Fatah movement of President Mahmoud Abbas and Islamist groups. The camp, which houses over 55,000 Palestinian refugees, is outside the jurisdiction of the Lebanese security forces. Palestinian factions within the camp are responsible for maintaining camp security. David Gritten reports for BBC News.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Former President Trump’s lawyers asked District Judge Tanya Chutkan, overseeing the federal election interference case, to recuse herself due to her criticism of the Jan. 6 attack. If successful, the court clerk will randomly assign this case to another district judge. Trump is also asking Chutkan not to rule on any other pending motions until his recusal request is resolved. C. Ryan Barber and Jan Wolfe report for the Wall Street Journal.
Former President Trump’s lawyers yesterday asked the judge in his Georgie election interference case to throw out most of the 13 charges against him. The one-page motion refers to a more comprehensive one also filed yesterday that states the “defects” in the indictment are “voluminous.” The longer motion also says that the charge of violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act seeks to “punish protected First Amendment activity” while failing to “sufficiently allege the existence” of a racketeering enterprise to overturn the election. Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim report for the New York Times.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Alabama yesterday filed an emergency application in the Supreme Court to keep in place a congressional map that a lower court said failed to establish a second majority-Black district or something “close to it.” Alabama’s attorney general, Steve Marshall, said pausing the lower court’s ruling would serve “the public interest by preserving the opportunity for the legislatively enacted 2023 plan to be used in the upcoming election, rather than a court-drawn, race-segregated plan.” Abbie VanSickle reports for the New York Times.
The Department of Justice will begin one of the most significant U.S. monopoly cases today to curb Google’s dominance in online search. The Department of Justice claims Google has become the most-used search engine because it illegally uses its money to stifle its competitors. Other federal investigations into Amazon, Apple, and Ticketmaster, among others, are also looming. Josh Sisco reports for POLITICO.
The United States suffered 23 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters so far this year, the largest recorded number, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. “These events caused 253 direct and indirect fatalities and produced more than $57.6 billion in damages (Consumer Price Index (CPI)-adjusted),” the report states. Rebecca Falconer reports for Axios.