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Cyber agency issues rare emergency directive after suspected Russian hacking campaign

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an "emergency directive" late Sunday requiring all federal civilian agencies to review their networks and immediately disconnect SolarWinds Orion software products, following a suspected Russian hack on the Treasury and Commerce Department.

Why it matters: It's only the fifth time since 2015 that the Department of Homeland Security has issued such a directive, per AP, underscoring the concerns officials have about an operation that one cybersecurity expert warned could turn out to be "one of the most impactful espionage campaigns on record."


The big picture: News of the hack came less than week after cybersecurity company FireEye revealed that nation-state hackers had penetrated its network and stolen its hacking its tools.

  • The Washington Post reported that the Russian hacking group APT29, also known as Cozy Bear and believed to have ties to Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), is behind the campaign.
  • SolarWinds, the company whose software is believed to have been compromised, says it has 300,000 customers worldwide, including "all five branches of the U.S. military, the Pentagon, the State Department, NASA, the National Security Agency, the Department of Justice and the White House," per AP.

What they're saying: "Based on our analysis, we have now identified multiple organizations where we see indications of compromise dating back to the Spring of 2020, and we are in the process of notifying those organizations," FireEye wrote in a blog post.

  • "Our analysis indicates that these compromises are not self-propagating; each of the attacks require meticulous planning and manual interaction.

Worth noting: President Trump fired the previous director of CISA, Christopher Krebs, last month after Krebs undermined him by calling the U.S. election "the most secure in American history."

Biden administration seeks to allow separated migrant families to reunite in the U.S.

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced Monday that the Biden administration will explore "lawful pathways" to allow migrant families separated under the Trump administration to reunite in the U.S.

Why it matters: Biden has pledged to reunite the hundreds of families still separated as a result of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, and signed an executive order last month creating a family separation task force chaired by Mayorkas.

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CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions, citing stalled progress

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky warned states on Monday that "now is not the time" to lift public health restrictions, as the recent dramatic declines in coronavirus cases and deaths "appear to be stalling."

Why it matters: While the average of 70,000 new infections and 2,000 daily deaths is nowhere near the extremely high levels recorded at the start of 2021, the figures are still a poor baseline to "stop a potential fourth surge" — especially with the threat posed by more contagious new variants, Walensky warned.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduces "ultra-millionaire" wealth tax bill

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Monday introduced a bill in the Senate that would impose a new tax on the assets of America's wealthiest individuals.

Why it matters: The plan, which Warren introduced along with Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) is similar to a proposal that was the centerpiece of Warren's campaign for the presidency in 2020.

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Private equity firms dodge cost-cutting and aim for revenue growth

Private equity is mimicking venture capital, banking on revenue growth instead of cost-cutting.

Why it matters: PE firms may struggle to maintain historical returns, particularly if the bull market slows its rampage and they're stuck with overpriced and overleveraged portfolios.

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Former French President Sarkozy sentenced to jail for corruption

A court in Paris on Monday sentenced former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to one year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence, after he was found guilty of trying to bribe a magistrate, the AP reports.

Driving the news: Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, is the first president in France’s modern history to have gone on trial for corruption, per AP. He was charged with corruption and influence-peddling.

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Canceled NFL Scouting Combine puts 40-yard dashes on the backburner

Top NFL prospects would normally be gathering in Indianapolis this week for the annual Scouting Combine. But due to the pandemic, this year's event has been canceled.

What they're saying: No combine means no 40-yard dash times making headlines. Former scout and current NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah thinks that could be a glimpse of the future:

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J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goal of 100 million doses by June

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said Monday that he is "absolutely" confident that the company will be able to meet its distribution goals, which include 100 million doses by June and up to a billion by the end of 2021.

Driving the news: J&J is already in the process of shipping 3.9 million doses this week, just days after the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the one-shot vaccine. Gorsky said he expects vaccines to be administered to Americans "literally within the next 24 to 48 hours."

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The spike in global bond yields is setting up a clash between the world's top central bankers

While Fed chair Jerome Powell is brushing off the seismic rise in government bond yields and a corresponding decline in stock prices, a group of central bankers in the Pacific are starting to take action.

Driving the news: Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda told parliament on Friday the BOJ would not allow yields on government debt to continue rising further above the BOJ's 0% target.

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