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Early Edition: October 5, 2021


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A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.

CHINA AND TAIWAN

Yesterday, China flew a record-breaking 56 warplanes into Taiwan’s defense zone near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands. Since Friday, China has sent almost 150 aircraft into Taiwan’s defense zone, raising concerns from Taiwan that Beijing is “seriously damaging the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.” The planes did not enter Taiwanese airspace, but they did fly inside Taiwan’s air defense zone, the area monitored for approaching threats. In response from criticism from the U.S. concerning China’s actions, China warned that support for Taiwan independence is a “dead end” and that the U.S. must stop “inflating” Taiwan separatist forces. BBC News reports.

Australia joined the U.S. yesterday in publicly expressing concerns about China’s “increased air incursions into Taiwan’s air defense zone.” A spokesperson for the Australian government said the country wants an Indo-Pacific region that is “based on the rule of law” and hoped that regional issues could be resolved peacefully “without the threat or use of force or coercion.” Daniel Hurst and Helen Davidson for the Guardian.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has warned of the “catastrophic consequences” if Taiwan falls to China and said that Taiwan is committed to defending its democracy against an increasingly aggressive China. Tsai Ing-wen’s comments were made in an essay published today amid the record-breaking incursions by Chinese warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense zone. Taiwan’s Premier Su Tseng-chang also said today that the “over the top” activity from China violated regional peace, and Taiwan needed to be on alert. Helen Davidson reports for the Guardian.

In anticipation of further aggression from China, Taiwan is preparing to repel any strike and has asked Australia to increase intelligence sharing and security cooperation Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu has said. Wu warned that Taiwan is preparing for war with China, saying in an interview with the Australian Broadcast Operation that “the defense of Taiwan is in our own hands, and we are absolutely committed to that.” “If China is going to launch a war against Taiwan we will fight to the end, and that is our commitment,” Wu added. ABC reports.

The surge of aerial sorties by China’s military to Taiwan’s air defense zone is highlighting the difficulties facing the Taiwan strait and the fine line that the U.S. must tread on its relations with China and Taiwan. “The Chinese are using these flights increasingly for training purposes and this is actually the end of the typical annual training cycle,” said Bonnie Glaser, the director of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund. “The other purposes they serve is to signal to the United States and Taiwan not to cross Chinese red lines. And to stress Taiwan’s air force, to force them to scramble, to stretch the aircraft, the pilots, force them to do more maintenance and test the responses of Taiwan’s air defense system,” Glaser added. Julian Borger reports for the Guardian.

Japan hopes tension between China and Taiwan will be resolved peacefully through dialogue, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi has said. Kishi told a news conference that his ministry would keep an eye on the widening military imbalance between Beijing and Taipei. Reuters reports.

A group of French senators including a former defense minister will visit Taiwan this week, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry has said. A Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the French delegation will be led by Alain Richard, head of the French Senate’s Taiwan Friendship Group who was the country’s defense minister from 1997 to 2002. “In March, the Chinese embassy in Paris warned against lawmakers meeting Taiwanese officials, prompting a rebuff from the French Foreign Ministry, which said French senators are free to meet whomever they wish when they travel,” Reuters reports.

Taiwan’s extra military spending of $8.6 billion over the next five years will go mostly toward naval weapons, including missiles and warships, the Taiwan’s Defense Ministry has said. “In a preamble to the proposal, the ministry noted China’s increased military spending, especially on advanced fighters and amphibious warfare ships, and stepped-up Chinese air force and navy activity near Taiwan. ‘The military threats and provocation are even more than before,’ it said, adding that any crisis was likely to escalate fast,” Yimou Lee reports for Reuters.

CHINA AND THE U.S.

U.S. Trade representative Katherine Tai announced on Monday that the Biden Administration will reopen talks with China over its failure to comply with the trade deal signed during former President Trump’s administration. She emphasized that the Biden Administration did not want to “inflame trade tensions with China,” and criticized the Trump deal for failing to adequately address the ways in which China’s trade practices hurt the U.S. economy. Tai also said the U.S. government will reopen an exemption process for certain companies to apply for relief from the tariffs on China. Gavin Bade reports for POLITICO.

The leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee has warned of continuing threats posed by the Chinese government to telecommunications systems and other critical technologies ahead of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ministerial meeting this week. Committee Chair Mark Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging him to use this week’s OECD to work with other democratic nations to “establish rules and norms around strategic technology issues, including development and governance strategies and best practices for communications applications, AI-enabled products and services, next-generation networks, Internet of Things devices, blockchain and fintech products, and renewable energies,” particularly to counter Chinese efforts in this area. Maggie Miller reports for The Hill.

CHINA – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

A Chinese ex-detective in exile has exposed the torture methods used by Chinese officials in Xinjiang to force Uyghurs and other minorities to confess. “In a three-hour interview with CNN, conducted in Europe where he is now in exile, Jiang revealed rare details on what he described as a systematic campaign of torture against ethnic Uyghurs in the region’s detention camp system, claims China has denied for years…During his time in Xinjiang, Jiang said every new detainee was beaten during the interrogation process — including men, women and children as young as 14,” Rebecca Wright, Ivan Watson, Zahid Mahmood, and Tom Booth report for CNN.

The E.U.’s 27 leaders will seek a new approach to China today in their first summit on the European–Chinese strategy since the bloc imposed sanctions on Beijing in March over human rights abuses. In response to the sanctions, the E.U. faced retaliation from China, including sanctions on E.U. Parliament lawmakers and the freezing of approval of a recently agreed E.U.-China investment deal. “The EU has sought to avoid confrontation with Beijing, but we can no longer regard China as a benign trading partner,” an E.U. diplomat said. “At a country estate in Slovenia, E.U. leaders will also hear from French President Emmanuel Macron on how the bloc can try to project strength in international affairs after Britain, the United States and Australia agreed in secret a military alliance to counter China, excluding France,” Robin Emmott reports for Reuters.

China is developing a sweeping new plan to restrain the algorithms that power tech platforms, to ensure that internet platforms’ automated processes are fair, transparent, and in line with Communist Party ideology. “Launched last week by the Cyberspace Administration of China, the campaign aims to establish a comprehensive system to regulate the use of algorithms within three years, part of the ruling Communist Party’s effort to rein in what it sees as unscrupulous business practices and exert more control over online discourse,” Stephanie Yang reports for the Wall Street Journal.

Malaysia has said that it has summoned China’s ambassador to protest against the “presence and activities” of Chinese vessels in Kuala Lumpur’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that Chinese ships, including a survey vessel, entered its EEZ in the South China Sea off the island of Borneo, in contravention of 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It did not elaborate on the number of ships involved or say when the incident took place. Al Jazeera reports.

PANDORA PAPERS

Spain, Mexico, Panama, Pakistan, India, Brazil, Australia, and the U.K. have announced investigations into the Pandora Papers leaked documents with information on tax havens and offshore companies. Panama announced it will begin a “supervision” of offshore service companies mentioned in the paper. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said his government would investigate citizens named in the paper, including his own ministers and members of his inner circle. Khan compared the level of international engagement needed on tax evasion with climate change and criticized the ruling elite in the developing world who plundered national wealth. Luke Harding for the Guardian.

A trust industry in South Dakota and other U.S. states is sheltering assets of millionaires and billionaires by promising high levels of concealment, rivalling or surpassing the services offered in overseas tax havens. The burgeoning American trust industry is increasingly sheltering assets of international millionaires and billionaires, attracting oligarchs, business tycoons and politicians, where the protection and secrecy shield the industry from meaningful oversight. The Pandora Papers investigation “identified 206 U.S.-based trusts linked to 41 countries. Nearly 30 of the trusts held assets connected to people or companies accused of fraud, bribery or human rights abuses in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities,” Debbie Cenziper, Will Fitzgibbon and Salwan Georges report for the Washington Post.

U.S. and E.U. sanctions against Russian oligarchs in response to “Russia’s worldwide malign activity” are taking a hidden toll on the oligarch’s finances, the Pandora Papers investigation has revealed. “The Pandora files show sanctions not only hitting their Russian targets but then triggering losses that spread across their interconnected financial networks. The documents contain material on at least 46 Russian oligarchs who appear on the Forbes list of billionaires. Among them are [Oleg] Deripaska and Gennady Timchenko, who amassed a fortune through oil trading. There are also people exceptionally close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, including Peter Kolbin, a childhood friend suspected by U.S. officials and others of holding hundreds of millions of dollars in assets for him,” Greg Miller reports for the Washington Post.

The fallout from the Pandora Papers is continuing to spread across the world, as global leaders and political elites continue to be implicated in the document. “Among the political elites implicated in the documents are leaders who rose to power vowing to curb corruption and boost transparency in their own countries, yet appear to have secreted money and assets away through shell companies and offshore tax havens,” Ishaan Tharoor reports for the Washington Post.

Several world leaders, including the leaders of Russia and Jordan, have denied wrongdoing having featured in the Pandora Papers leaks. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Jordan’s King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein are among some 35 current and former leaders linked to the files, with both having issued statements saying that they have done nothing wrong. “Jordan’s royal palace said it was ‘not unusual nor improper’ that King Abdullah owned property abroad… Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov meanwhile questioned the reliability of the ‘unsubstantiated’ information, after it detailed hidden wealth linked to Putin and members of his inner circle,” BBC News reporting.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office has sought to justify his use of offshore companies as protecting him against pro-Russian forces. The files in the Pandora Papers claim that Zelenskyy, who was elected president of Ukraine in 2019, and his partners established a network of offshore companies back in 2012. According to the findings, “two of the offshore companies belonging to Zelenskyy’s partners were used to buy three lavish properties in central London…An adviser to Zelenskyy’s chief of staff said on Monday that the president had created the offshore companies to ‘protect’ the group’s incomes against the ‘aggressive actions’ of the ‘corrupt’ government of then pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych,” Al Jazeera reports.

The Czech national police announced on Monday that they will “act upon” the Pandora Papers and investigate any Czech national named in the documents, including current billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who is up for reelection this week. The documents revealed that Babiš purchased a chateau near Cannes, France with shell companies that hid his identity. Babiš tweeted that the revelations in the Papers were part of an effort to “harm me and influence the Czech election.” Babiš previously styled himself as a fighter against nontransparent offshore business. Ladka Bauerova and Rick Noack report for the Washington Post.

E.U. Parliament Lawmakers have acknowledged that the Pandora Papers highlight the failings of the E.U.’s tax haven list just as E.U. lawmakers plan to pare the list down. E.U. finance ministers are scheduled to vote today to remove Anguilla, Dominica, and Seychelles from the E.U.’s list of 12 tax havens. Stephen Gardner reports for Bloomberg Law.

A number of “rogue” Americans stashed assets offshore, eluding victims of compensation and impeding investigations, according to the Pandora Papers investigation. Individuals identified by the investigation include Marc Collins-Rector, who was behind one of the largest Hollywood sex abuse scandals in the 1990s; Robert Durst, convicted last month for the execution-style murder of a close friend in 2000; a mob accomplice; a dentist charged with defrauding Medicaid; a producer of adulterated drugs; and the founder of a cruise company accused of negligence by the families of 31 sailors who drowned during a hurricane. Debbie Cenziper and Will Fitzgibbon report for the Washington Post.

U.S. RELATIONS

An international coalition undertook a coordinated arrest of two “prolific” hackers involved in ransomware attacks last week. The international coalition was made up of U.S., French, Ukrainian and E.U. law enforcement authorities. The coalition also coordinated on the seizure of millions of dollars in profit allegedly involved with a spree of damaging ransomware attacks. “Europol, the E.U.’s law enforcement agency, on Monday announced the arrests on Tuesday in Ukraine of the unnamed individuals alleged to have been behind ransomware attacks that extorted between 5 million to 70 million euros. Authorities say the two began carrying out a series of ‘prolific’ ransomware attacks in April 2020 against industrial groups in both Europe and North America, encrypting files and threatening to release stolen data online if the victims did not pay the ransoms demanded,” Maggie Miller reports for The Hill.

A U.S. delegation led by White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, and including Middle East envoy Brett McGurk, brought up the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in talks with leading Saudi Arabian officials last week, a senior U.S. official has said. The main purpose of the talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other top Saudi officials last week was to discuss ways to arrange a ceasefire for the Yemen conflict. But a senior official who briefed reporters has said that the U.S. delegation also specifically brought up the case of Khashoggi, a Saudi-born U.S. resident who was killed by a team of operatives linked to the prince in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul two years ago, as well as raising human rights in general. Reuters reports.

President Biden and the new Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio affirmed the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance in a phone call yesterday, the White House has said. “The leaders affirmed the strength of the U.S.-Japan Alliance, which is the cornerstone of peace, security, and stability in the Indo-Pacific and around the world,” the White House read out of the call said. Reuters reports.

Kishida said today that he received a “strong” message from Biden during their phone call about the U.S.’s commitment to defending the disputed East China Sea islets known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan. “We confirmed that we would work together toward the strengthening of the Japan-U.S. alliance and free and open Indo-Pacific,” Kishida said. “We also confirmed we would work closely on issues related to China and North Korea,” he added. “‘Especially, the president made a strong comment on the U.S. commitment to defend Japan, including the Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan security treaty,’ Kishida added, referring to U.S. defense obligations to Japan, which cover the uninhabited island,” Reuters reports.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Mexico City on Friday to lead a delegation for high-level security talks between neighboring countries, the White House has said. “Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and other officials will accompany Blinken to take part in the Biden administration’s first U.S.-Mexico High-Level Security Dialogue. The White House said the talks would ‘build on discussions in previous months on protecting our people, preventing transborder crime, and pursuing criminal networks, while promoting human rights and the rule of law,’” Reuters reports.

JAN. 6 ATTACK

On Monday Judge Tanya Chutkan, a federal judge on the U.S. District Court of Columbia, rejected her colleague’s comparison of the Jan. 6 attackers to the actions of individuals in cities like Portland, Ore. during last year’s racial justice protests. Chutkan stated that “that mob was trying to overthrow the government… That is no mere protest.” Chutkan’s colleague, Judge Trevor McFadden, who also serves on the U.S. District Court in Washington, said on Friday that “the U.S. attorney would have more credibility if it was even-handed in its concern about riots and mobs in this city” during a sentencing hearing for a Jan. 6 attacker. The judges’ comments reflect a growing division in the judiciary about how severely to punish lower-level defendants who participated in the events of Jan. 6. Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney for POLITICO.

Chutkan ignored prosecutors’ recommendation of home confinement for the defendant implicated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, instead sentencing him to 45 days in jail, as well as 60 hours of community service and $500 restitution for the damage done to the Capitol building. Chutkan said probation and a “slap on the wrist” would not “deter anyone from trying what he did again,” adding that the “country is watching to see what the consequences are for something that has not ever happened in this country before, for actions and crimes that undermine the rule of law and our democracy.” Matthew C. Mazzocco is the first Capitol attack defendant to receive a jail term when prosecutors had not asked for one. Tom Jackman reports for the Washington Post.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has defended the Justice Department against claims that it is not charging those who were involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol harshly enough. “Prosecutors involved in this case are making determinations in every case about what charge fits the offense, what charge fits the law,” Garland said during an interview. Tierney Sneed reports for CNN.

IMMIGRATION

Senior State Department Official, Harold Koh, has resigned from his role as the sole political appointee on the State Department’s legal team. In a scathing legal memo announcing his resignation, Koh wrote that President Biden’s administration’s continued use of statute, Title 42, to expel or return migrants is “illegal,” “inhumane,” and “not worthy of this administration that I so strongly support.” Koh’s resignation and criticism of the Biden administration comes amidst a period of heightened internal strife within the administration and continued public criticism of the administration’s use of Title 42 and its recent treatment of Haitian migrants. Last month, U.S. Special Envoy to Haiti Daniel Foote left the administration to avoid being “associated with the United States’ inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti.” Alex Thompson and Alexander Ward report for POLITICO.

OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS

The Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, who has accused Facebook of putting profit over safety, will testify before the Senate’s commerce subcommittee on the risk that Facebook’s products pose to children, and especially their mental health and wellbeing. “The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money,” Haugen has said. “Haugen is expected to tell lawmakers that Facebook faces little oversight, and will urge Congress to take action. ‘As long as Facebook is operating in the dark, it is accountable to no one. And it will continue to make choices that go against the common good,’ she wrote in her written testimony,’” Dan Milmo and Kari Paul report for the Guardian.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar has said that she will as Haugen whether Facebook did enough to warn law enforcement about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. “The senator said she would also ask Haugen, a former product manager on Facebook’s civic misinformation team, about her assertion that the company’s algorithms promote harmful content,” Reuters reports.

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a dispute over the fatal police shooting of a schizophrenic man in a case that has raised questions about legal barriers to suing government workers for alleged wrongdoing. “The lawsuit was brought by the mother of the victim, Willie Gibbons, who was shot and killed in 2011 by a New Jersey state trooper while Gibbons was holding a gun to his own head. A lower federal appeals court last year found that the officer, Noah Bartlet, was entitled to qualified immunity, a controversial legal doctrine … [that] broadly shields law enforcement and other government employees from liability unless it’s proven they violated a clearly established constitutional right, presenting a difficult legal barrier,” John Kruzel and Mychael Schnell report for The Hill.

The Supreme Court has declined to hear Oracle’s challenge to how the Pentagon awarded its now canceled $10 billion cloud computing contract the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract. “The Supreme Court said it [will not] review Oracle’s appeal of a federal court ruling that found that the software company was not hurt by any errors the Pentagon made in awarding the [JEDI] contract, as Oracle would not have qualified for it,” Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.

ISRAEL AND IRAN

Israel has accused Iran of planning an attempted attack on Israeli business people living in Cyprus. Iran’s embassy in Nicosia, the Cypriot capital, issued a statement calling Israel’s allegations “baseless.” Chief of Cypriot police, Stelios Papatheodorou has said that his department apprehended a person in possession of a pistol. Reports indicate that a silencer was found in the suspect’s vehicle and that he was Azeri and held a Russian passport. Reuters reports.

President Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will meet today with Israel’s National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata in Washington. The discussions are expected to focus on Iran’s nuclear program and stalled indirect talks between Washington and Tehran over efforts to roll back Iran’s nuclear activities, as well as reducing tensions between Israel and Palestine. The meeting is part of a series of meetings, called the U.S.-Israel Consultative Group, between U.S. and Israeli officials spanning the military, diplomatic and intelligence communities, which were announced last week as Sullivan traveled to Egypt. Laura Kelly reports for The Hill.

During the U.S.-Israel Consultative Group meetings today, top U.S. officials will tell their Israeli counterparts that the Biden administration remains committed to diplomacy with Iran, but, if necessary, it would be prepared to pursue “other avenues” to ensure Tehran does not acquire a nuclear weapon, a senior U.S. official has said. “Echoing … Biden’s comments in a White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in August, the official said: ‘we of course remain committed to a diplomatic path.’ ‘But obviously if that doesn’t work there are other avenues to pursue, and we are fully committed to ensuring that Iran never develops a nuclear weapon.’ Asked what actions were under consideration and whether that included military options, the official said ‘we’ll be prepared to take measures that are necessary’ but did not elaborate,” Matt Spetalnick and Steve Holland report for Reuters.

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban forces unlawfully killed 13 ethnic Hazaras, including nine surrendering former government soldiers and two civilians, in Afghanistan’s Daykundi province on Aug. 30, an investigation by Amnesty International has found. The deaths include “a 17-year-old girl shot when the Taliban opened fire on a crowd of people,” Amnesty International said in a news release, citing eyewitness testimony gathered as part of its investigation. Sarah Dean reports for CNN.

The Taliban made a third-round of appointments yesterday, with none of the 38 new appointees announced by chief spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid including women. The appointees were comprised of members drawn entirely from the Taliban with little representation of minority groups. The appointments included deputy government positions and postings to humanitarian organizations. Associated Press reports.

Afghanistan is to start issuing passports to its citizens again after months of delays, a senior official has said. The process had slowed even before the Taliban returned to power, and “Alam Gul Haqqani, acting head of the passport office, told reporters in Kabul that between 5,000 and 6,000 passports were to be issued each day, with women being employed to process those meant for female citizens,” Reuters reports.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

Singapore’s parliament has passed a law that allows authorities to force internet service providers and social media platforms to block content, provide user information, and remove applications used to spread content deemed hostile by the state. Singapore’s Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said that the law, which imposes prison terms and hefty fines on violators, will help prevent “foreign interference” in domestic politics. International organization watchdogs and the main opposition Workers’ Party criticized the bill as a way to expand persecution of opposition politicians, activists and the media. Agence France-Presse reports.

Myanmar’s ousted leader, 76-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi, requested court sessions related to charges brought against her after the country’s military coup be held every two weeks rather than every week on health grounds. Her lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw said in a statement that she did not suffer from any specific illness. Rather, she was tired from her continued court appearances and her age. A judge in Suu Kyi’s case will make a decision next week about her request. Rebecca Ratcliffe reports for the Guardian.

The son and namesake of the late Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos has announced that he will run for president in the Philippine’s elections next year. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has been involved in politics since his return in 1991 from exile following his father’s 1986 overthrow, and his announcement ends months of speculation over his political ambitions. Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema report for Reuters.

OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS

The U.N. Human Rights Council has found that war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, torture, enslavement, extrajudicial killings and rape, have been committed in Libya since 2016. The Council said there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that Russian mercenaries from a private military company called Wagner Group committed murders, and that the European Union-trained Libyan coastguard handed migrants over to detention centers where torture and sexual violence were “prevalent.” Violations against migrants are “widespread” and committed by “state and non-state actors” as part of a system designed to prevent those migrants from reaching Europe. The report also documented the enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of prominent women and the use of child soldiers. Peter Beaumont reports for the Guardian.

The Turkish Defense Ministry has said that its troops have captured a major base belonging to Kurdish militants in northern Iraq. Twelve members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, were “neutralized,” meaning opponents that are killed, wounded or captured, in the operation, the ministry said in a Tweet. “The ministry said the ‘eastern headquarters’ of the PKK were captured in what it called a ‘powerful blow’ against the group, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and E.U. There were no details [of] when the operation happened,” Associated Press reports.

Burkina Faso’s government has said that at least 14 soldiers were killed and seven injured by extremists at the Yirgou military barracks in Burkina Faso’s Sanmatenga province yesterday. “The soldiers were targeted at 5 a.m. by a large number of heavily armed men and showed ‘great combativeness,’ Minister of Defense Aime Barthelemy Simpore said in a statement. The government immediately launched an aerial and ground offensive, he said,” Sam Mednick reports for AP.

A French child kidnap plot, the first time that conspiracy theorists in Europe have committed a crime linked to the QAnon-style web of false beliefs, including that government workers are running a child trafficking ring, has shown the global sway of the QAnon style beliefs, Lori Hinnant reports for AP.

Facebook has complied with Russian demands to delete some content that Moscow deems illegal but could still face a significant fine as it was slow to do so, Russia’s state communications regulator has been cited as saying by the Vedomosti newspaper. “The regulator, Roskomnadzor, threatened last week to fine Facebook up to 10% of its annual Russian turnover unless it took down content that Russia has banned. The move to comply could signal that Facebook is responding to Russian pressure,” Reuters reports.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has begun a second five-year term, saying that the conflict in Tigray “has made us pay a heavy price,” and describing the Tigray forces as “hateful” towards Ethiopia, Associated Press reports.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that he hopes diplomatic tensions between France and Algeria would soon ease. Algeria recalled its Ambassador to Paris on Saturday, citing comments attributed to Macron who was quoted as saying that Algeria’s rulers had rewritten the history of its colonization based on “a hatred of France.” The following day, Algeria closed its airspace to French military planes, according to France’s military. “My wish is that is that we can calm things down because I think it is better to talk to one another, and to make progress,” Macron has said. Reuters reporting.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has called Roman Catholic bishops “terrorists” and has said that many countries would have arrested them. Ortega appeared to be referring to a pro-democracy plan submitted by Nicaragua’s Council of Bishops during short-lived talks between the government and opposition, before the government brutally put down the protests against the government. “The bishops signed that in the name of the terrorists, at the service of the Yankees … these bishops are also terrorists,” he said in a broadcast. “In any other country in the world they would be on trial,” he added. Associated Press reports.

The U.K. military has started driving fuel trucks in southern England amid a gas station crisis in the country, Reuters reports.

CORONAVIRUS

The coronavirus has infected over 43.85 million and has now killed over 703,200 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 235.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases and close to 4.81 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley, and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.

On Monday, New Zealand abandoned its “Covid Zero” strategy after seven weeks of a strict lockdown in Auckland. Despite the long lockdown, the country failed to stop an outbreak of the Delta variant in the country, and the public support for such lockdowns continued to wane. On Saturday, New Zealand had its biggest protest against Covid-19 restrictions. New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has said that restrictions will be gradually lifted in the Auckland area. However, it remains unclear whether New Zealand will follow the approach of Australian cities Sydney and Melbourne, which abandoned a zero-Covid strategy but left heavy restrictions in place. Natasha Frost reports for the New York Times.

Researchers at Pfizer and Kaiser Permanente released results from a large U.S. study that showed the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is 90% effective at preventing hospitalizations from the virus for up to six months. The vaccine was 93% effective against hospitalizations from the Delta variant. The study found, though, that the vaccine’s effectiveness declined over time, falling to 88% during the first month after vaccination to 47% after five months. The findings come as scientists and politicians in the U.S. debate about whether to offer Americans booster shots. Emily Anthes reports for the New York Times

Johnson & Johnson plans to seek approval from U.S. regulators sometime this week to authorize a booster shot for its Covid-19 vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration scheduled a meeting of its expert advisory committee to discuss whether to grant emergency use authorization for a Johnson & Johnson booster for Oct. 15. Federal officials are increasingly concerned that the 15 million Americans who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine face too high a risk of severe Covid-19. Sharon LaFraniere for the New York Times.

The European Medicines Agency, the E.U.’s main drug regulator, has said that booster shots of Pfizer-BioNTech can be given to healthy adults at least six months after the second dose. Each of the 27 member states will decide for themselves whether to give booster shots. France, Germany and Belgium began giving the booster shot last month to older individuals and those with weakened immune systems. The Czech Republic and Hungary offered the booster shot to all adults. The Agency says it is still assessing booster shots for the Moderna vaccine. Monika Pronczuk 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.



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