Fdd's overnight brief

July 28, 2022

In The News

Russia & Ukraine

A group of former U.S. national security officials has formed a professional association to promote the tradecraft of open-source intelligence, the analysis of publicly available data that has helped Western powers understand and track Russia’s war on Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said the United States had made a “substantial proposal” to Russia to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and jailed American Paul Whelan. “We’re very focused on getting Brittney and Paul home,” and President Biden has approved the proposal, Blinken said Wednesday after Griner had taken the stand in her Moscow trial on drug charges. – Washington Post

Choreographing the sequence was the job of dozens of military logistics specialists ensconced in a large, secure attic room at the U.S. European Command headquarters in Germany. The little-known group is playing a pivotal role in keeping the Ukrainian military armed and equipped as its battlefield needs become more complicated. – New York Times

Explosions lit up the sky over the southern city of Kherson overnight, and as dawn broke on Wednesday it was clear that Ukrainian long-range missiles had once again found their target: a bridge that is critical in the Russian effort to resupply the forces charged with holding the port city. – New York Times

Ukraine’s counteroffensive is gathering momentum in the Russian-controlled southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, Britain’s defence ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters

A Ukrainian counter-offensive has virtually cut off the Russian-occupied southern city of Kherson and left thousands of Russian troops stationed near the Dnipro River “highly vulnerable”, British defence and intelligence officials said on Thursday. – Reuters

Russian forces are undertaking a “massive redeployment” of troops to three southern regions of Ukraine in what appears to be a change of tactics by Moscow, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday. – Reuters

At least one person was killed by a Russian strike on a Ukrainian hotel in the Donetsk region town of Bakhmut on Wednesday, local authorities said. – Reuters

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he intends to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about a “substantial” deal to free imprisoned Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, and a person familiar with the offer said it would swap them for imprisoned Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. – Bloomberg

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a press conference on Wednesday that the war in Ukraine has “weakened Russia profoundly.” – The Hill

On July 28, 2022, the Basmanny District Court in Moscow is scheduled to begin hearings on whether to liquidate the activities of the Jewish Agency in Russia. The charge ostensibly is the collection of information on Russian citizens a job that the organization has performed for years in line with assessing applications for immigration to Israel. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Russia’s newly appointed deputy prime minister has a challenge ahead of him: protecting and building the country’s defense-industrial base amid Western sanctions and the ongoing war in Ukraine. – Defense News

Russian troops executed one of their own men in Kharkiv after the Feb. 24 invasion and then concealed his identity so they could use him in an elaborate propaganda ploy. That’s according to a report released Wednesday by the independent news outlet Verstka, which tracked down the identity of the young soldier nearly six months after his death in the Kharkiv region. – The Daily Beast

Russian forces have taken over Ukraine’s second biggest power plant, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday, following an earlier claim by Russian-backed forces to have captured it intact. – Reuters

Leonid Bershidsky writes: The Russian military may be understaffed and poorly commanded, but it is adapting to new circumstances, new Western weapons in Ukraine’s hands and a shifting political vision in the Kremlin. It will fight a sound defensive battle, and in the end, whichever side shows more tenacity and fighting spirit will win in the south and, subsequently, in the east. […]The apparently planned annexation is a stop-loss move in this game of diminishing returns. – Bloomberg

Jonathan Sweet writes: Ukrainian forces have begun their counter-offensive in the south. […]But what happens when a Russian battalion tactical group says no more? When a commander or his subordinates refuse to follow an order to attack or defend? We haven’t seen an incident of mutiny at the unit level, yet. But it is likely just a matter of time. Losing has a way of doing that. We’re approaching a breaking point. – Washington Examiner

Alexander J. Motyl writes: Unfortunately, genocide fatigue is so much more comfortable. One can claim to be concerned, while drinking beer and shrugging helplessly. Moreover, claiming that genocide is too strong a word for Putin’s barbarity is one way of pretending that things aren’t quite that bad. Hoping that negotiations with a sociopathic barbarian can produce a lasting peace is another convenient way of pretending genocide isn’t taken place. But genocide fatigue won’t stop the ongoing genocide in Ukraine. It can only delay the ultimate reckoning and eviscerate the West. – The Hill

Ethan Brown writes: The A-10s future is moth balls and well-deserved war stories in heritage halls and reunions. The F-16 and its NATO equivalents are a potential future option to de-Russify Ukraine’s air power inventory. But what Kyiv needs right now are systems that its logistics and sustainment functions can support and maintain apace of operations. Like many strategic and tactical options available to support Ukraine, the West already has functional options, and light attack is one that is being overlooked by senior leadership. – The Hill

Kristina Hook writes: Should governments allow Russia to perpetrate “the crime of crimes,” they risk unleashing a chain reaction in which Russia will be emboldened to press further with its imperial agenda and its autocratic partner China might flex its muscles in pursuit of its own territorial ambitions—at huge cost to civilian life and in a threat to the global order. […]That spirit of determination and willingness to equip an imperiled ally will be necessary to halt the terrible destruction and the attempted erasure of a nation, to stop a genocide in motion. – Foreign Affairs

Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan write: Since the war in Ukraine began, Putin’s rapidly growing security state seems to be inching closer to its Stalinist predecessor. The militarization of the FSB, its new recruitment camps, its increasingly open and brutal tactics all suggest that Putin is looking more closely at the approach of the NKVD—an agency that was forged by a totalitarian state in wartime. And the long war is what the Kremlin is priming the country for. – Foreign Affairs

Kateryna Stepanenko, Grace Mappes, Katherine Lawlor, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Russia is sustaining its offensive in eastern Ukraine but may otherwise be unable to sustain a similar offensive operational tempo elsewhere. Russia’s offensive remains likely to culminate [in the east] before seizing any other major urban areas in Ukraine. – Institute for the Study of War


An Iranian-flagged tanker anchored off the Greek port of Piraeus is expected this week to retrieve part of its cargo of oil confiscated by the United States and sail back to Iran following a Greek court ruling, government sources said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Iran welcomed diplomatic efforts to revive its 2015 nuclear pact with major powers on Wednesday, a day after the European Union’s top diplomat proposed a new text to restore the agreement. – Reuters

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Western adversaries on Wednesday of being behind a movement among Iranian women activists to challenge the government’s obligatory Islamic dress code. – Reuters

Iran claimed on Wednesday to present new details from Iran’s Intelligence Ministry regarding the “arrest and equipment of the identified terrorist team of the Zionist regime.” The news appears to follow reports several days ago in which Iran claimed to have arrested members of a sabotage team sent from Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Iran will start to supply aircraft parts and equipment to Russia and service Russian aircraft in a new agreement signed between the two countries. – FOX News

White House Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk told a group of think tank experts last week it’s “highly unlikely” that the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran will be revived in the near future, according to three U.S. sources who were on the call. – Axios

Iran is building a new nuclear research reactor at a nuclear facility in Isfahan, Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Mohammad Eslami announced on Wednesday, according to Iranian media. The research reactor, which will be able to test fuel for other reactors, will be built at the Isfahan Nuclear Technology Center, one of the country’s largest nuclear facilities. Eslami stated that the project is “completely indigenous and Iranian.” – Jerusalem Post


Gaza’s Hamas rulers have imposed a slew of new taxes on imported clothes and office supplies just ahead of the new school year, sparking limited but rare protests in the impoverished coastal strip. – Associated Press

The Israeli army said on Wednesday that Hamas has rebuilt some of the capabilities that were damaged during last year’s Gaza war, including three new tunnels and a series of weapons manufacturing and storage sites. – Associated Press

After countless operations in the Gaza Strip where the army failed at legitimizing its actions, the IDF has published several military sites used by Hamas in the heart of urban areas. The sites, including a weapons warehouse next to Shifa Hospital as well as several mosques, will likely be targeted in a future conflict between the two sides. – Jerusalem Post

In a direct challenge to the veteran Palestinian leadership, a group of Palestinian personalities on Tuesday launched a new initiative for major reforms and changes in the Palestinian political system and institutions. Titled “National Rescue Initiative,” the new plan was announced by Nasser al-Kidwa, a former PA foreign minister and envoy to the United Nations. – Jerusalem Post

Vowing to reach across the aisle but not cooperate with Arab parties, Ayelet Shaked relaunched the right-wing Yamina party Wednesday, joining forces with Derech Eretz party leader Yoaz Hendel and rebranding the joint slate as Zionist Spirit. – Times of Israel

The Israeli Mission to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva has expressed outrage following a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) investigator’s comments about the undue influence of a so-called “Jewish lobby” on media, and whether Israel should be a member of the body at all. – Algemeiner

Under the guise of concern for Pope Francis’ health, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas exploited a phone call with the pope to incite and inflame the Church against Israel. – Algemeiner

Tom Rogan writes: As Netanyahu looks to reenter office, Americans should be wary. Israel is an exceptionally important American friend. Bennett and Lapid have sought to reflect this understanding in their foreign policies while raising legitimate concerns with the Biden administration over its policies on counterterrorism and Iranian nuclear proliferation. He seems determined to balance American interests alongside those of Beijing and Moscow. Let’s not ignore it. – Washington Examiner


A two-week visit made by Isma’il Haniya, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, to Lebanon in late June 2022 sparked harsh criticism from Lebanese elements. These elements warned that Hamas aspires to strengthen its relations with Hizbullah and Iran and may drag Lebanon into a confrontation with Israel. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Lebanon plans to build two new grain silos to fight its its worsening food security crisis, according to the country’s caretaker economy minister. Amin Salam said that several countries and international organizations have expressed an interest in funding and bidding for the new silos, which will cost a total of $100 million. – Associated Press

Israel has given the U.S. its updated proposal on the disputed maritime border with Lebanon ahead of a visit by U.S. energy envoy Amos Hochstein to Beirut, two Israeli officials told Axios. – Axios

Middle East & North Africa

Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Iran slogans stormed the Iraqi capital’s government center and occupied the parliament building Wednesday, protesting corruption and denouncing the leading candidate to be the country’s next prime minister. – Wall Street Journal

The new Tunisian constitution, which passed in a referendum on Tuesday, enshrines the right for Palestinians to establish a state in the Levant with Jerusalem as the new country’s capital. “We defend the legitimate rights of the peoples who, according to this legitimacy, have the right to decide their own destiny, the first of which is the right of the Palestinian people to their stolen land and the establishment of their state over it after its liberation, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif [Jerusalem] as its capital,” reads the preamble of the new constitution. – Jerusalem Post

Bobby Ghosh writes: The Biden administration should also be prepared to exercise the US veto on any International Monetary Fund assistance for Tunisia. That would hit Saied where it hurts the most. He desperately needs foreign funding and the IMF’s help to start repairing Tunisia’s crumbling economy. Failure to deliver on that front will swiftly remove even the limited support he enjoys, and put paid to any claims to legitimacy. Biden has much to answer for his failure to live up to his professed values. In Tunisia, he has an opportunity to do something of note. – Bloomberg

Dennis Ross and James F. Jeffrey write: The irony as always is that the more we seem prepared to take military action, the less we are likely to have to employ it. President Biden’s trip was designed to signal the United States can be counted on in the region because we recognize that what happens there necessarily is tied to our larger effort to restore and perpetuate that rules-based international system. Those efforts can and will be successful if we have allies and regional partnerships moving forward. Time will tell whether this trip proves to be a turning point, but those who dismiss its importance are missing the bigger picture. – The National Interest

Michaël Tanchum writes: As countries around the world cope with supply shortages of staple foods, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Israel, and India are creating an India-Middle East Food Corridor — a new West Asia value chain that harnesses the three states’ commercial and technological synergies to form what promises to be a new food exporting powerhouse. A resilient 21st century food supply chain forged from innovative and climate-smart technologies, the India-Middle East Food Corridor is also reconfiguring commercial relations across the southern rim of Eurasia. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country is ready to mobilise its nuclear war deterrent and counter any U.S. military clash, and criticised South Korea’s new president for the first time, warning Seoul was pushing towards the brink of war. – Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened to “eliminate” South Korea and said he was ready for any battle with the US in a speech to mark the 69th anniversary of the deal that ended fighting in the Korean War. – Bloomberg

North Korea is likely to face stronger sanctions including measures aimed at curbing its cyberattack capabilities if it conducts a nuclear test that it has been preparing, South Korea’s foreign minister said on Wednesday. – Reuters


Taiwan’s military pledged it is action-ready for a Ukraine-style response to an invasion during annual drills this week, even as Taiwanese security experts downplay the odds of reckless Chinese aggression over a possible visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. – Washington Post

When President Biden gets on a call with President Xi Jinping of China on Thursday to try to tamp down tension over Taiwan, the two will have a laundry list of mutual grievances to address. But one source of recent friction may be something not on the list: China’s domestic troubles. – New York Times

On his first full day on the job, Hong Kong’s new leader, John Lee, shared a picture of himself working at his desk with a printout of what he described as an important speech by Xi Jinping, China’s leader, placed next to his notebook. – New York Times

Hong Kong’s controversial national security law should be repealed, experts on the UN Human Rights Committee said on Wednesday, amid concerns the legislation is being used to crack down on free speech and dissent in the former British colony. – Reuters

The head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Wednesday that he will not send public accounting inspectors to China or Hong Kong unless Washington and Beijing can agree on complete audit access. – Reuters

China must focus on addressing “unbalanced and inadequate development” in the next five years, President Xi Jinping told senior leaders this week, indicating he wants to continue the economic priorities adopted in the past five years. – Reuters

China lashed out at a Republican lawmaker who accused it of trying to get secret information from the Federal Reserve, saying the claim was a “political lie,” and some politicians in the US have “persecution mania.” – Bloomberg

China is developing nuclear weapons designed for battlefield use and “to coerce others,” a senior British official warned as world leaders brace for a new Taiwan crisis. – Washington Examiner

Nicholas Eberstadt writes: The latest UNPD revisions should be only the beginning of a reassessment of what we know about China’s population situation, and how we know it. These big questions about China’s population statistics, furthermore, should offer a broader cautionary note about the reliability of all sorts of other quantitative information about China—not least those bearing more directly on the country’s economic performance. – American Enterprise Institute

Yun Sun writes: In 2022, China’s foreign policy has been relatively mild compared with what it could have been. After the 20th Party Congress, however, China will gradually reopen to the world. The return to normal exchanges, trade, and travel will no doubt be eagerly welcomed. But the darker side of the same coin is the resumption—and potential escalation—of China’s assertive foreign policy. […]A strengthened Xi is not going to be more moderate. He will have less to prove to his domestic audience. But he will have all the power and the opportunity he needs to pursue his “China Dream.” – Foreign Affairs

Stephen Collinson writes: China has vehemently warned that it will take “resolute and forceful” measures if Pelosi visits. An attack on her aircraft is unthinkable. But there is speculation in Washington that China might shadow her US military plane with fighter jets or even send aircraft flying over Taiwan itself — a highly volatile scenario fraught with the possibility for miscalculation.

South Asia

Just a week after introducing scheduled power outages in response to the soaring cost of fuel in Bangladesh, the government said it was seeking help from the International Monetary Fund, joining two other nations in South Asia to do so in recent months. – New York Times

Sri Lanka’s parliament approved the extension of a state of emergency for a month on Wednesday, a lawmaker said, in a bid to get a grip on a political and economic crisis that has forced a change of leadership. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Sri Lanka should kick off debt restructuring talks with its bilateral lender China, while the island state’s government seeks a financing loan from the Washington-based fund. – Reuters

The head of the U.S. government aid agency called on China on Wednesday to help Sri Lanka and other nations that had borrowed heavily from Beijing with debt restructuring, not just with lines of credit and emergency loans. – Associated Press

Egypt has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with an Indian company to build a green hydrogen factory in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, a cabinet statement said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Megan Greene writes: The new leaders of Sri Lanka might be forgiven if they wish for a recession in the US. Rate cuts in America and a weaker dollar might make the small Indian Ocean nation’s debt obligations easier to service. Deeply indebted, with foreign exchange reserves exhausted and low on fuel and hope, Sri Lanka’s crisis suggests trouble is coming in emerging markets, and there isn’t much they can do about it. – Financial Times


U Phyo Zeya Thaw, a Burmese hip-hop pioneer whose democracy-affirming lyrics led to a career in Parliament and, after Myanmar’s military coup last year, as a resistance leader, was executed on Saturday in Yangon, Myanmar, by the country’s military junta. He was 41. – New York Times

Women in Afghanistan have faced an onslaught of violence and human rights abuses since the Taliban’s return to national power less than a year ago — and the “scope, magnitude and severity” of violations are “increasing month to month,” according to a new report by Amnesty International. – Washington Post

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Wednesday he had spoken with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and given her a security assessment but any comments about a trip she might make to Taiwan would have to come from her office. – Reuters

The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday condemned the execution of four democracy activists by Myanmar’s ruling military and called for the release of all arbitrarily detained prisoners, including President Win Myint and leader Aung San Suu Kyi. – Reuters

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to visit Japan in August, Kyodo reported on Wednesday, citing sources. – Reuters

The leaders of Japan and Indonesia agreed Wednesday to bolster their ties in maritime security and their cooperation on climate change, energy and investment between the Asian archipelago nations. – Associated Press

A group of Japanese lawmakers including two former defense ministers met with Taiwan’s president on Thursday in a rare high-level visit to discuss regional security. The delegation, led by lawmaker and former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, said it wanted to reach an agreement with Taiwan on defense issues and prepare for any potential conflict in the region, while also seeking to prevent conflict from breaking out. – Associated Press

Any Asian aggressor who violates the sovereignty of other countries in the region risks punitive counter actions, just like what Russia is confronting now for its invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. secretary of the Navy said in a veiled warning to China’s increasingly assertive behavior. – Associated Press

The Philippine government has scrapped a deal to purchase 16 Russian military transport helicopters due to fears of possible U.S. sanctions, Philippine officials said. – Associated Press

Editorial: All of the above argues for keeping Ms. Pelosi’s plans for a Taiwan trip flexible and discreet — which, to her credit, she has done — while waiting for the optimal moment to carry them out. That probably won’t be soon, but it should be eventually, when her presence will do the most to support Taiwan’s legitimate aspirations and the least to reinforce China’s illegitimate bullying. – Washington Post

Dr. Mark T. Esper writes: Taiwan cannot beat China in a head-to-head conflict. But Taipei can make Xi Jinping think twice before he attacks a nation under arms – 23 million freedom-loving people who are armed, trained, and committed to their sovereignty and survival – who also have the backing of other democracies also prepared to respond to unwarranted aggression, like they did toward Russia. If Vladimir Putin had known this about Ukraine before unjustly invading his southern neighbor, he might never have done so in the first place, and the horrors occurring in Eastern Europe could have been prevented. – FOX News

Michael A. Hunzeker and Alexander Lanoszka write: As one of Taiwan’s oldest and staunchest friends, Congress has a critical role to play in helping Taiwan take advantage of this fleeting opportunity. Doing so will require awkward conversations and a healthy dose of tough love. But the stakes for Taiwan and the American people are such that nothing less will do. – War on the Rocks


As the number of politicians, activists and journalists hacked with spyware grew to include prime ministers and prominent dissidents in the European Union, the world’s biggest democratic club, the European Parliament in April started checking its members’ phones. – New York Times

The Spanish government said on Wednesday it will ask the European Parliament to consider allowing the use of Catalan in the chamber, in what would be a first for a European regional language. – Reuters

Sweden and Finland have yet to extradite suspects Turkey seeks over terrorism-related charges despite signing an accord to lift Ankara’s veto to its NATO membership last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Germany is thinking about delaying the shutdown of the country’s remaining three nuclear plants as Russia continues to reduce natural-gas supply to Europe’s top economy. – Business Insider

Maria Tadeo writes: With Draghi out of office, Putin will no doubt test the resolve of his successor, perhaps hoping old friendships may lead to softer sanctions and pressure on Ukraine to accept a dictated peace. Italy cannot fall into the trap; it must not become Russia’s gateway into Europe. If that happened, the damage to the bloc — which is facing its most serious geopolitical test to date — would be enormous. – Bloomberg


A surge in militia attacks in eastern Congo has sparked violent protests against United Nations peacekeepers over their perceived inability to keep civilians safe, killing at least 19 people this week, including three U.N. personnel. – Wall Street Journal

When French President Emmanuel Macron visited Cameroon this week, he called out an entire continent for “hypocrisy.” Europe had decisively identified Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a war, he said during a news conference with Cameroon’s President Paul Biya on Tuesday, but much of Africa had not. – Washington Post

Islamist militants killed 15 soldiers and three civilians during two separate attacks in southwest Mali on Wednesday, the army said in a statement. – Reuters

Nigerian opposition Senators pushed for President Muhammadu Buhari to face impeachment, 10-months before the end of his second term in office, over the country’s spreading security problems, the Senate minority leader said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Separate explosions in two southern Somalia towns killed at least five people on Wednesday, including a local administrator, state radio, police and residents said. – Reuters

Four people protesting against a United Nations peacekeeping mission were electrocuted on Wednesday in the Congolese city of Uvira when troops fired shots which hit an electric cable that fell on them, the mission and a local official said. – Reuters

France could deliver drones and more sophisticated weapons to Benin to help it tackle a worsening Islamist insurgency that is threatening the region, President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Russian, French and American leaders are crisscrossing Africa to win support for their positions on the war in Ukraine, waging what some say is the most intense competition for influence on the continent since the Cold War. – Associated Press

The US announced $488 million in humanitarian assistance for Ethiopia to help the nation respond to a prolonged drought that’s threatening the survival of 8.1 million people. – Bloomberg

French President Emmanuel Macron is ready to step up support to African countries facing food and security concerns in a bid to stem Russia’s growing sway in the region. – Bloomberg

In recent years, Cameroon has emerged as one of several go-to countries for the widely criticized “flags of convenience” system, under which companies can — for a fee — register their ships in a foreign country even though there is no link between the vessel and the nation whose flag it flies. – Associated Press 

Turkish Aerospace Industries has announced new deals to export its helicopter gunships and trainer aircraft to two African countries, Nigeria and Chad. TAI’s general manager, Temel Kotil, said Tuesday that the company will deliver a batch of six T129 attack helicopters to Nigeria. TAI is building the T129 under license from the Italian-British firm AgustaWestland. – Defense News

Latin America

The citizens of Chile will soon vote on a proposed constitution that’s being heralded as one of the most progressive in the world. The 388-article charter was drafted by a left-wing convention called in the aftermath of violent protests of October 2019. If voters approve it on Sept. 4, it could destroy Chile’s economy, democracy and integrity as a nation. – Wall Street Journal

Brazil on Wednesday assured U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that its armed forces were focused on providing security to ensure a safe, secure and transparent election in October, Austin said. – Reuters

Brazil’s presidential frontrunner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Wednesday that, if elected in October, he would call on the European Union to improve the terms of its trade agreement with South American trade bloc Mercosur. – Reuters

Heavy gunfire echoed throughout downtown Port-au-Prince on Wednesday as suspected gang members set a church on fire and tried to kill their opponents in a bid to gain control over more territory. – Associated Press

North America

Pope Francis apologized and asked for forgiveness for the role played by local Catholic institutions in Canada’s system of indigenous residential schools, after some indigenous leaders and elders demanded that he expand on his earlier apologies, which blamed individual Catholics but not the church itself. – Wall Street Journal

Canadian police have arrested and charged two men with the murder of Ripudaman Singh Malik, a Sikh businessman who was acquitted in connection with the 1985 Air India bombing that killed 329 people. – Reuters

A Texas man bought dozens of guns from licensed dealers in the state before illegally reselling at least 16, U.S. officials say. Twelve were traced to crimes committed in America. The other four were traced to crimes in Canada. – Reuters

United States

The Senate on Wednesday approved a $280 billion bill aimed at boosting the semiconductor industry crucial to modern technology, in a bipartisan embrace of expanding U.S. industrial policy to counter the competitive threat posed by China. – Wall Street Journal

A woman accused of leading one of the largest drug cartels in Honduras appeared Wednesday in U.S. federal court to face charges of trafficking large quantities of cocaine into the United States from at least 2006 to 2015. – Washington Post 

The Atlantic Council is parting ways with a Charles Koch-funded foreign policy strategy initiative after staff at the Washington think tank raised concerns about the arrangement and the initiative’s position on U.S. policy toward Russia. – Politico

A Hawaii couple charged by federal authorities with stealing the identities of dead babies decades ago might have past ties to Russia’s former spy agency, court filings indicate. – New York Post


Microsoft Corp. is rallying other big-name cloud-computing providers such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Oracle Corp. to press the U.S. government into spreading its spending on such services more widely, taking aim at Amazon.com Inc.’s dominance in such contracts. – Wall Street Journal

Government hackers are likely using commercial spyware to breach phones belonging to US officials stationed around the world, the chairman of the House intelligence committee said on Wednesday. – Bloomberg

The House passed bipartisan legislation on Wednesday that would address the rise of cyber threats against energy infrastructure in the United States. – The Hill

The Department of Justice announced last week that it will begin using a controversial 2018 law meant to give law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and U.K. easier access to data from technology and telecom companies as part of criminal investigations. – CyberScoop

The availability of supposedly hacked Chinese data on the dark web appears to have surged in recent weeks on the heels of the massive Shanghai National Police breach, which was one of the largest ever recorded. – CyberScoop

Jason Blessing writes: Worse yet, the Biden administration lacks a formal national cybersecurity strategy. An important first step for the White House will be working with other democracies to develop common export principles that restrict the flow of digital spy tools from their private sectors to autocracies. Any strategy also must find incentives for states such as Israel, which traditionally exports spyware to Arab states in exchange for diplomatic goodwill. – The Hill


Russia has been NASA’s main partner on the space station for more than 20 years, but after years of frequent bluster from Russia, NASA officials have basically shrugged off the latest statement from Moscow and said they would continue to operate as if nothing has changed. – Washington Post

The Air Force has half a dozen F-22 Raptors en route to Poland as part of the latest effort to protect NATO allies against Russian land grabs following the invasion of Ukraine. Those F-22s will be heading to the 32nd Tactical Air Base in Łask, Poland, “ensuring NATO Allies are better able to safeguard and protect Alliance territory,” a press release detailing the mission said. – Military.com

The US Air Force is testing a system that uses artificial intelligence and drones on its bases aimed at putting a stop to an active shooter. – New York Post

The United States finds itself clawing from behind in the current hypersonic race with China and Russia for a very simple reason: Leaders squandered the decisive hypersonic advantage America gained in the 1960s through programs like the X-15. Irregular funding, scattershot hypersonic efforts, and a lack of urgency yielded an array of haphazard programs. – Defense News

A senior U.S. Marines Corps officer confirmed plans to invest in missile defense technology based on Israel’s Iron Dome and Tamir missile defense interceptors following a successful live-fire test. – Haaretz