Fdd's overnight brief

June 14, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

Gaza’s war-weary population is growing increasingly frustrated with the fruitless cycles of cease-fire talks, as a new poll of Palestinians shows support for Hamas dwindling in the enclave. – Wall Street Journal

The daring and deadly hostage rescue that Israeli military forces mounted in Gaza last Saturday relied on a massive intelligence-gathering operation in which the United States has been Israel’s most important partner. – Washington Post

Residents and Palestinian media reported a night of heavy bombardment in the area of Rafah, in southern Gaza, on Thursday as the Israeli military said its forces had continued to operate “in face-to-face encounters” with Hamas militants there. – New York Times

Israeli forces raided a town in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, killing three Palestinians and detaining several others in what the army described as an operation to pre-empt militant attacks. – Reuters

The United States, France and Israel have agreed to work together to step up efforts to push forward a roadmap presented by Paris earlier this year to defuse tensions between Hezbollah and Israel, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday. – Reuters

More than half of Gaza’s agricultural land, crucial for feeding the war-ravaged territory’s hungry population, has been degraded by conflict, satellite images analysed by the United Nations show. – Reuters

A Colombian military hospital would provide medical treatment to Palestinian children injured in the Israel-Hamas war under a plan announced Thursday by the country’s Foreign Ministry. – Associated Press

The U.S.-built pier to bring food to Gaza is facing one of its most serious challenges yet — its humanitarian partner is deciding if it’s safe to keep delivering supplies arriving by sea to starving Palestinians. – Associated Press

President Joe Biden on Thursday expressed doubts that a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas would soon come together, telling reporters that “Hamas needs to move.” – Politico

In a Thursday afternoon post on X, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said that he signed an order transferring about $134 million from the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) frozen funds to victims of terrorism. – Jerusalem Post

The Tel Aviv-Jaffa District Court approved Thursday Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi’s request to renew the temporary ban on the Al Jazeera news network in Israel, whose broadcasts and website will now be blocked for an additional 45 days. – Times of Israel

Israel promised on Thursday that there would be “a reaction” to a United Nations report that included the Jewish state on its list of the worst violators of the human rights of children in armed conflicts. – Times of Israel

Editorial: “The fact that … it was decided to reject a proposal to include an explicit provision in the law determining the police’s apolitical character ought to worry every citizen,” Baharav-Miara said last month. “This is a flashing warning light.” Once again, the Supreme Court must block an attempt to undermine democracy. As long as the Netanyahu/Ben-Gvir government is in power, the court is truly the last protector of Israeli democracy. – Haaretz

Ruth R. Wisse writes: My mother’s dictum traces its lineage to the Talmud, in which Rabbi Elazar comments on Saul’s decision in the Book of Samuel to spare the king of Amalek, the Jewish archetype of pure evil. We’ll now see if Washington can learn from that wisdom, not always acted on, to confront those who seek dominion not only from the Jordan to the Mediterranean but from America’s sea to shining sea. – Wall Street Journal

Josh Feldman writes: The Jewish people exist today despite continuous attempts throughout history to eradicate them. Israelis are well aware that, had they followed every international dictate since 1948, it’s unlikely that Israel would have survived into its 77th year. And much like their ancestors, they have no plans to give in. – The Hill

Andrew Fox writes: Militarily, the IDF is hamstrung by international pressure to slow operations, and uncertainty about what comes next in Gaza — a choice that may at least partially lie outside of Israel’s control. For our part, Western critics need to eat humble pie and accept that, on the evidence of the last 20 years, our tactics are not to be recommended. What we are seeing in Gaza is not a failure. It’s a quite brilliant IDF operational design, within the bounds of what is realistically possible. – New York Post 

Ehud Yaari writes: Jerusalem should also commit to help with the territory’s reconstruction. This includes revisiting its objection to building a port in the Strip—a project that has attracted interest from Saudi Arabia. In the wake of the October 7 massacre, the idea of Hamas playing a role in Gaza’s governance is intolerable. A firm Western statement to this effect—perhaps in a forum like this week’s G7 summit—would go a long way toward pouring cold water on the terrorist group’s aspirations to dominate the “day after.” – Washington Institute

Iran

Iran has rapidly installed extra uranium-enriching centrifuges at its Fordow site and begun setting up others, a U.N. nuclear watchdog report said in what diplomats described as limited retaliation to a resolution by the watchdog’s board. – Reuters

French citizen Louis Arnaud returned to Paris Thursday after being held in Iran since September 2022 and sentenced last year to five years in jail on national security charges. – Agence France-Presse

Fatemeh Sepehri, a prominent Iranian political prisoner and vocal critic of the Islamic Republic who suffers from a heart ailment, has been sentenced to an additional 18 and a half years in prison. – Iran International

The Secretary of the Seminaries’ Intelligent Technologies Department has urged Iranian presidential candidates to utilize Artificial Intelligence (AI) to shape public opinion amid apparent voter apathy. – Iran International

Arash Azizi writes: Still, Iranian political behavior is notoriously hard to predict. In the next two weeks, the candidates will wage an intense competition for hearts and minds. Whoever becomes the next president will not only hold the second most important job in the Islamic Republic; he will have a front-row seat to the real power struggle that is sure to arrive when Khamenei finally dies. Only then might we see actual change in the policies that have driven most Iranians to hate the regime. – The Atlantic

Russia & Ukraine

Ukraine is imposing blackouts, launching hasty repairs and hunting for spare parts after a Russian bombing campaign targeting power infrastructure in recent months slashed the country’s electricity production by half. – Wall Street Journal

Russian prosecutors said they have approved an indictment of Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter held in Russia for over a year, falsely accusing him of espionage and referring his case to a trial court, where he could face a series of secret, closed-door hearings. – Wall Street Journal

A tough new raft of U.S. sanctions sent jitters rippling through the Russian financial system Thursday and forced Moscow’s main financial trading platform to halt dollar and euro transactions, further raising the cost of President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine. – Washington Post

Japan has agreed to provide $4.5 billion in aid for Ukraine this year, part of a 10-year security deal signed by the two countries on Thursday, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said. – New York Times

A month into Russia’s push across the border in northern Ukraine, Western weapons and Ukrainian reinforcements have largely stalled the attack. But they came too late to save one town, Vovchansk, where the city hall, a cultural center, countless apartment blocks and several riverside hotels are all now in ruins. – New York Times

Debris from a downed Ukrainian drone damaged an unused reservoir at a fuel depot in Russia’s Voronezh region on Friday, regional governor Alexander Gusev said on the Telegram messaging app. – Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that China would not sell weapons to Russia during a phone conversation between the two men, Zelenskiy said on Thursday. – Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked the leaders of the G7 group of countries on Thursday to approve a “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine’s reconstruction after the damage caused by Russia’s invasion. – Reuters

Russia’s advance in the Kharkiv area is slowing and the frontline is stabilizing after some allies lifted restrictions on Kyiv’s use of donated weapons on Russian territory, U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday. – Reuters

One of Russia’s top security officials called on Thursday for Russians to mobilise to inflict “maximum harm” on Western societies and infrastructure as payback for increasingly tough sanctions being imposed on Moscow by the U.S. and its allies. – Reuters

Russia said on Thursday that the United States should not be nervous about Russian warships in Cuba but that the West appeared deaf to any diplomatic signals from Moscow and only took notice when the army or navy took action. – Reuters

Russian drills to deploy tactical nuclear weapons for combat involved the special delivery of dummy nuclear warheads to forward storage points and an airfield where they were loaded on to bombers, according to Russia’s elite nuclear unit. – Reuters

The Romanian government has begun a multibillion-euro expansion and modernization project at one of its air bases near Ukraine, where new military equipment will be stored. – Defense News

Editorial: Putin’s missiles and artillery strike from Russia deep into Ukraine every day, but Biden insists that Kyiv treat nearly all enemy territory as a safe space. Biden can also stop restricting the weapons he sends Ukraine, a limit he observes for fear of upsetting Putin — that is, the guy trying to conquer a free people. He could also come up with a plan for how Ukraine can win. Instead, his baby steps wind up prolonging the war, letting Putin feel confident there’ll be no significant challenge from the West — at least as long as Biden is president. – New York Post

Hezbollah

Hezbollah said it had launched rockets and weaponised drones at nine Israeli military sites in a coordinated attack on Thursday, ramping up hostilities on Lebanon’s southern border for the second consecutive day. – Reuters

The United States is very concerned that hostilities on the Israel-Lebanon border could escalate to a full-out war, a senior U.S. official said, saying that specific security arrangements are needed for the area and a ceasefire in Gaza is not enough. – Reuters

As Israelis in northern areas of the country beseech their government to end Hezbollah’s eight months of military aggression, President Biden is reportedly concerned that Jerusalem is “rushing to war” in Lebanon, from which the terrorist organization operates. – New York Sun

Yemen

The U.S. military launched airstrikes that destroyed three anti-ship cruise missile launchers in Houthi-controlled Yemen late on Thursday, as the armed rebel group stepped up its attacks on ships in the Red Sea, the U.S. Central Command said. – New York Times

Missiles fired by Yemen’s Houthi militants struck the Palau-flagged Verbena cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, sparking a fire and severely injuring one of her crew, U.S. Central Command said. – Reuters

The United Nations on Thursday warned of “potentially catastrophic ramifications” in Yemen from competing monetary authorities and a threat by the government to cut off banks in Houthi-controlled areas from the international banking system. – Reuters

The United States’ ambassador to Yemen on Thursday called on Yemen’s Houthi group to immediately release the detained staff of international organisations including employees of the U.S. embassy in Sanaa. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

Sweden said on Thursday it had called in Iraq’s charge d’affaires in Stockholm to protest against a death sentence handed down to a Swedish citizen in Iraq. – Reuters

Spain and Turkey called on the international community Thursday to stop “looking the other way” and press for the end of Israel’s attack on Gaza to crush Hamas, following a bilateral summit focused on strengthening economic cooperation between the Mediterranean countries. – Associated Press

A top Senate Democrat is reviewing limits put on US weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, signaling warmer ties as the Biden administration pursues a security agreement with the kingdom and seeks to ease the Israel-Hamas conflict. – Bloomberg

Iraq’s foreign minister on Thursday, receiving his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad, warned of the dangers of conflict expanding in southern Lebanon and its repercussions across the Middle East. – Agence France-Presse

Turkiye and the United States have signed a contract for the sale of F-16 warplanes after Washington greenlighted the $23 billion deal following months of negotiations, Turkish defense ministry sources said Thursday. – Agence France-Presse

Korean Peninsula

The Kremlin said on Thursday that Russia’s right to develop closer ties with North Korea should not be in doubt or a source of fear for anyone, saying the potential for the two countries’ relations was very deep. – Reuters

Senior officials of South Korea and the United States held an emergency phone call over a possible impending visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to North Korea, Seoul’s foreign ministry said on Friday. – Reuters

North Korea has sent containers to Russia that could hold nearly 5 million artillery shells and Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely seek even more when he soon visits Pyongyang, South Korea’s defense minister said. – Bloomberg

China

A Chinese court sentenced leading #MeToo activist Huang Xueqin to five years’ imprisonment on subversion charges on Friday, supporters told Reuters. The co-accused labour activist Wang Jianbing was sentenced to three years and six months in prison, supporters said. – Reuters

Chinese Premier Li Qiang met New Zealand government and business leaders on Friday, on the second day of a regional tour that includes neighbouring Australia and signals a warming in ties between the Pacific nations and their biggest trading partner. – Reuters

China, skipping a weekend summit on a peace plan for Ukraine, has been lobbying governments for its alternative plan, 10 diplomats said, with one calling Beijing’s campaign a “subtle boycott” of the global meeting in Switzerland. – Reuters

China is likely to adopt limited and targeted retaliation against the European Union after the bloc unveiled tariff increases on Chinese electric cars, with Beijing wary that a more robust response could backfire. – Bloomberg

Alexander Gabuev writes: The war in Ukraine may be a drain on the West’s resources and on the economies of developing countries, but it suits Beijing’s interests just fine. China has gained power over Russia, all while paying minimal economic and diplomatic penalties. China, then, may stay the course. It can continue to ridicule the West’s approach to the war and call for diplomacy without trying to achieve much in reality. – Foreign Affairs

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: To credibly deter adversaries, the U.S. military requires the capacity to get to the fight as well as the ability to sustain, rapidly repair, and resupply forces. It needs to be able to withstand early losses and sustain its efforts in a prolonged war. China’s catching up to the U.S. in defense spending must not mean that it can outmatch — or, worse, outlast — America should our military be called upon to fight in Asia. – National Review

South Asia

From a father-of-two who planned to leave his job to a 29-year-old due to visit his family in August, two dozen Indians from the southern state of Kerala died in a fire that ripped through a labour-housing facility in Kuwait on Wednesday, leaving their families bereft. – Reuters

Republican Representative Michael McCaul is expected to lead a bipartisan U.S. congressional delegation to India in the coming days, where he and other lawmakers, including Democratic former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, plan to meet Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. – Reuters

The Taliban must provide Ryan Corbett, an American held in Afghanistan for nearly two years, with immediate medical care to prevent irreparable harm to his health or even his death, a United Nations expert said on Thursday. – Reuters

Pakistan plans to raise up to $1 billion through international bonds in the 2025/26 fiscal year, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb told Reuters, adding that up to $300 million will be raised through Chinese markets – Reuters

A thousand days have passed since girls in Afghanistan were banned from attending secondary schools, according to the U.N. children’s agency, which said Thursday that “no country can move forward when half its population is left behind.” – Associated Press

Sola Mahfouz writes: The international community must move beyond hollow proclamations and token gestures. It is imperative to design and implement educational initiatives that are accessible, culturally relevant and sustainable. Only then can we hope to make a meaningful impact and support Afghan women and girls in their fight for a brighter future. – The Hill

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: Even with the media largely on his side, Modi crashed into a newly skeptical electorate. If he is to regain their confidence, his self-aggrandizement will have to give way to humility, openness, and less control. This could well be a tall order for a leader so used to thinking of himself as ten feet tall. – Foreign Affairs

Daniel F. Runde, Annie Pforzheimer, Thomas Bryja, and Caroline Smutny write: The Afghan people need long-term sustainable solutions that include not only increased humanitarian assistance but also greater economic stability, the resumption of international development assistance, and a viable private sector–led economy. With the welfare of ordinary Afghans on the line, stakeholders will have to reckon with what imperfect options remain if both engagement and disengagement are deemed unacceptable. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Asia

Vietnam’s newly elected president To Lam on Thursday called for a strengthening of ties with the United States, the government said. Vietnam has been seeking to boost relations with Washington as part of its “bamboo diplomacy” as it tries to navigate rising global disputes and maintain economic growth. – Reuters

The U.S. government has returned another $156 million to Malaysia in recovered assets linked to scandal-hit state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), taking the total returned so far to $1.4 billion, the U.S embassy in Kuala Lumpur said. – Reuters

Human rights groups urged Thailand on Thursday not to extradite a Vietnamese activist detained in Bangkok, saying he could be at risk if handed back to Vietnam. – Associated Press

Karishma Vaswani writes: His party does not hold a majority in the Legislative Yuan, and the opposition Kuomintang and Taiwan People’s Party are currently pushing through bills that could make life even more difficult, potentially holding up defense reforms. However, boosting the military’s ranks and improving its ability to defend its territory should be an urgent priority for the island. – Bloomberg

Europe

President Emmanuel Macron has always aspired to become one of the great men of history, saving Europe from the fires of populism and setting its economy on course to compete with the U.S. and China. The question now looming over Macron is whether he will go down in history as the man who ushered Marine Le Pen and her far-right party to the threshold of power in France. – Wall Street Journal

Britain’s opposition Labour Party, which is far ahead in polls before a July 4 election, pledged on Thursday to recognise a Palestinian state as a contribution to a renewed peace process. – Reuters

Germany welcomed police officers from across Europe on Thursday to bolster its defences against potential threats at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament, with Interior Minister Nancy Faeser promising vigilance on the eve of the opening match. – Reuters

Group of Seven (G7) leaders hold a final day of talks at their annual summit on Friday, with China topping the agenda before Pope Francis puts in a historic appearance to discuss artificial intelligence (AI). – Reuters

Plans by the G7 to provide additional financial support for Ukraine show that wealthy industrial nations remain committed to the country more than two years after Russia’s invasion, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday. – Reuters

Outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will likely become NATO’s next secretary general, Finnish President Alexander Stubb told a press conference on Thursday. – Reuters

Eight European Union foreign ministers called on the EU to ban Russian diplomats from moving freely around the bloc and restrict them to countries where they are accredited, in a letter to EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. – Reuters

Britain on Thursday imposed its first sanctions targeting vessels in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “shadow fleet” that it said was used to circumvent Western sanctions on the trade in Russian oil. – Reuters

NATO defense ministers gathered Thursday hoping to agree on a new plan to provide long-term security assistance and military training to Ukraine amid Russia’s full-scale invasion, after Hungary promised not to veto the proposal as long as it’s not forced to take part. – Associated Press

Former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, whose center-right GERB party garnered the most votes in Bulgaria’s parliamentary election, invited his political opponents Thursday to hold talks about forming a new government. – Associated Press

The European Union’s top court ordered Hungary to pay a fine of 200 million euros ($216 million) on Thursday for persistently breaking the bloc’s asylum rules despite a previous European Court of Justice ruling, plus an additional 1 million euros for every day it fails to comply going forward. – Associated Press

The German government is working to prevent the European Union’s new tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles from coming into force — or at least soften them should a full halt not be possible, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Editorial: This isn’t a counsel of despair, or resignation. The Western democracies have hit low points in the past, and eventually new leaders emerged to meet the moment. The free world needs those leaders now. The politician to look for is someone who tells voters the truth about the dangers ahead—and the policies needed to revive economies and deter war. – Wall Street Journal

Joseph C. Sternberg writes: Blame the media or left-wing brainwashing or cultural decadence or anything else, a status quo is a status quo for a reason. Citizens and insurgent parties alike may soon confront the possibility that voters themselves—specifically, a mismatch between what they want and what they’re prepared to do to get it—are Europe’s problem. Buckle up. – Wall Street Journal

Justina Budginaite-Froehly writes: Both Lithuania and its partners must, however, remember that hybrid operations remain Russia’s main strategy in the Baltic Sea region. Developing a comprehensive strategy for the protection of the emerging armament production and repair hubs in Lithuania from Russian provocation and possible sabotage is therefore as important as attracting investment from Western defense industry heavyweights. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Emile Chabal writes: Many people have compared Macron’s gamble to former Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to call a referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union in 2016. But Cameron was naive: He was told he would win, and he had not drawn any lessons from the near-miss of the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014. Macron is not naive; he understands exactly what he has done. He may, in time, be vindicated. But if he fails, he alone will bear the responsibility for tearing France apart. – Foreign Policy

Africa

Ghana and its bondholders will restart talks next week to hash out a debt restructuring deal on $13 billion of international bonds, four sources told Reuters, on the heels of a deal finalised with official creditors earlier this week. – Reuters

An estimated 756,000 people in Sudan could face catastrophic food shortages by September, according to a preliminary projection used by United Nations agencies and aid groups to determine whether to officially declare a famine. – Reuters

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of al-Fashir – a city of 1.8 million people in Sudan’s North Darfur region – by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and an immediate end to fighting in the area. – Reuters

South Africa’s African National Congress said late on Thursday that several other parties had agreed to join it in a unity government but the details were not yet finalised, the night before the newly-elected parliament was due to sit. – Reuters

The World Bank has approved a total of $2.25 billion loan for Nigeria to help stabilise its economy following reforms and scale up support for the poor, it said in a statement on Thursday. – Reuters

Uganda hopes to limit rising debt by focusing on concessional borrowing and curbing commercial loans next fiscal year, its finance minister said on Thursday, after a credit rating downgrade last month. – Reuters

At least 42 people were killed by suspected Islamist rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, two officials from the local administration said on Thursday. – Reuters

The Americas

Mexico’s President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum said on Thursday that judges in the country should be elected, echoing her agreement with a controversial judicial reform proposed by outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. – Reuters

Brazil has asked Argentina for information about dozens of supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro seeking refuge in the neighboring country to avoid legal consequences for storming Brasilia last year as part of an alleged coup attempt. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) board on Thursday cleared the way, for Argentina to draw $800 million to help drive its economic recovery, saying the lending program was “firmly on track”. – Reuters

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Thursday that democracy was at risk, commenting on the far-right gains in the European Parliament after last weekend’s elections. – Reuters

Argentina’s government rejected media reports on Thursday that President Javier Milei would travel to China in the coming weeks and meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying that while such a trip could happen it was not confirmed. – Reuters

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar warned Thursday that migrants who do not opt for a legal pathway into the U.S. will face great consequences, a message coming at a time when the Biden administration needs Mexico’s cooperation in easing the flow of migrants to their shared border. – Associated Press

Chile’s government will pressure Venezuela to step up in the fight against crime as Latin America stares down the threat from international gangs, a senior cabinet member said in an interview. – Bloomberg

Editorial: Seen through that lens, getting Mr. Milei’s reform through Congress is just the beginning. His ambitious campaign promises — so far on hold — include calls to close the country’s central bank and to link the peso to America’s fiat dollar. Real monetary reform, though, would mean restoring a currency that is convertible into silver or gold — an apt move for a country that was once among the world’s richest and whose very name means money. – New York Sun

Pierre Espérance writes: Whether Chérizier’s gangs are able to continue operating depends on whether Haitians like me—who are invested in promoting stability and democracy in our own country—are able to work with the United States to set safeguards, transparency, and decision-making structures for the multinational force. This force can only be useful in the long term if it gives the government space to combat the root causes of our social and political instability. To accomplish that, the United States must stop concealing its role in the Kenyan-led mission and collaborate with us to build solutions that will carry Haiti forward. – Foreign Policy

United States

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Thursday that she believes the largest Chinese banks are mindful of U.S. sanctions against Russia and do not want to violate them, but added the U.S. will not rule out taking action if it deems it necessary. – Reuters

The United States is considering taking additional steps against Chinese companies that have been supplying Russia’s defense industrial sector, the State Department said on Thursday. – Reuters

The head of the U.N. refugee agency said Thursday he understands that the Biden administration enacted new restrictions on asylum-seekers entering the United States, but cautioned that some aspects of the executive order may violate refugee protection required under international law. – Associated Press

President Joe Biden’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza has caused him no shortage of political troubles back home. And the rest of the world is noticing. – Politico

Andreas Kluth writes: For the sake of humanity, we should all hope that the confrontation with this third axis never culminates in a third world war. The best way to prevent that is for the West to show a united front now and deter escalation or miscalculation in other parts of the world. That starts with economic support for Ukraine. The stakes are high in what could well be Biden’s last G-7 summit. – Bloomberg

 

Cybersecurity

Several London hospitals, still under significant strain more than a week after a cyberattack crippled services, have asked medical students to volunteer to help minimize disruption, as thousands of blood samples have had to be discarded and operations postponed. – New York Times

Microsoft (MSFT.O), President Brad Smith fielded questions about the tech giant’s security practices and ties to China at a House homeland security panel on Thursday, a year after alleged China-linked hackers spied on federal emails by hacking the firm. – Reuters

A congressional watchdog is sending a reminder to the White House that it has a long laundry list of cybersecurity regulations to address as the 2024 election draws near. – CyberScoop

Multiple U.S. city governments  are dealing with ransomware attacks this week, disrupting services and forcing officials to close facilities  in response. – The Record

Ransomware hackers who attacked the nonprofit hospital network Ascension last month were not able to exfiltrate data from the electronic health record system, a pivotal finding given the size of the network, which sprawls across 180 hospitals and senior care facilities nationwide. – The Record

Ukraine’s security service, the SBU, detained two people who reportedly helped Russian intelligence spread pro-Kremlin propaganda and hack the phones of Ukrainian soldiers. – The Record

Manisha Singh writes: History dictates that in global conflict, the most powerful tools will prevail. It is, therefore, incumbent on U.S. innovators to win the AI race and achieve the goal of “peace through strength.” Only then can a course be set to maintain stability and prevent global atrocity by actors determined to use AI in a way that will redefine the concept of war. – The National Interest

Defense

The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced its fiscal 2025 defense spending bill while adding a provision that would eliminate the military’s makeshift pier off the coast of the Gaza Strip, which has struggled to deliver an adequate level of humanitarian aid to Palestinians facing famine-like conditions. – Defense News

The Air Force might be reevaluating its plans for a sixth-generation fighter jet in the coming years, as the service’s top officer on Thursday eluded confirmation that it would still field the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) aircraft despite the current and future budget restrictions facing the Pentagon. – DefenseScoop

Cmdr. Douglas Robb and Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Ward write: Analysis must be clear-eyed given the stakes involved with two nuclear powers. Therefore, as the U.S. and its allies position their policies and platforms for the future, we would be wise to recognize if and when we may be mirroring our perceptions onto competitors. Only then can we appreciate that the beauty of sea power may be in the eyes of the beholder. – Defense News