Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Anna Salvatore
Thursday, August 27, 2020, 3:15 PM

Hurricane Laura made landfall this morning as a Category Four storm, reports The New York Times. With winds of 150 m.ph.h and a water surge of 20 feet, the storm is considered one of the strongest to ever hit the United States. Hundreds of thousands of people in Texas and Louisiana have already experienced power outages from the hurricane. 

China fired two missiles in the South China Sea yesterday morning, reports the South China Morning Post. Experts see the firings as a warning to Washington after China accused the United States of sending a U-2 plane into a no-fly zone on Tuesday. One of the missiles is designed to harm aircraft carriers, while the other is a dual-capable weapon banned by an international treaty. 

In a statement Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed sanctions on 24 Chinese businesses for building islands in disputed areas of the South China Sea, writes CNN. The State Department also announced that it would limit visa access for Chinese people “responsible for, or complicit in” the militarization of the South China Sea.

A new Buzzfeed News report shows satellite images of “a vast, growing infrastructure for long-term detention and incarceration” of Uighurs in China. Some of the new compounds are designed to hold tens of thousands of people, and others contain factories that likely rely on forced labor. Buzzfeed News identified 268 recently constructed detention facilities and writes that more are still being built. According to Politico, the Trump administration is considering whether to formally label Uighur subjugation as a genocide. 

The Justice Department will open an investigation into the police shooting of Jacob Blake, writes The New York Times. President Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he intends to deploy federal law enforcement officials to Kenosha, Wisconsin in response to the ongoing protests. 

The Australian man who murdered 51 people in Christchurch mosques last year was sentenced to life without parole, according to BBC News. "Your crimes are so wicked that even if you are detained until you die, it will not exhaust the requirements of punishment," said Judge Cameron Mander. The shooter is the first defendant in New Zealand’s history to receive a terrorism conviction. 

American police departments are partnering with a facial recognition firm called Clearview AI, reports The Verge. Using photos from sites like Instagram and Facebook, the firm has already helped police identify protesters in Miami. BuzzFeed News reported in February that the New York Police Department is the largest user of Clearview AI, although the software’s other customers have included The Justice Department, ICE and the NBA. 

The United Nations Security Council has blocked the United States’ efforts to reimpose sanctions on Iran, writes BBC News. The existing arms embargo on Iran will expire in mid-October.

Vladimir Putin indicated that he will send troops to Belarus “if necessary,” writes The Washington Post. Analysts worry that his threat may increase tensions between Russia and Europe, because many European countries have condemned Belarussian president Alexander Lukashenko’s refusal to leave office after a widely disputed August 9 election. 

Chief executive of TikTok Kevin Mayer is resigning, writes TechCrunch. His departure comes only 100 days after he joined the company. TikTok is suing the United States government after President Trump sought to ban the app for national security purposes.

Problems at Intel have delayed the creation of an American supercomputer called Aurora, according to The New York Times. The Energy Department gave Intel $500 million last year for Aurora in order to counter China’s technological dominance. Aurora was set to debut in 2021 with chips from Oregon, Arizona, and New Mexico, but delays are forcing Intel to manufacture some chips abroad. 

Election officials have seen no evidence of foreign interference in mail-in voting, reports The Washington Post. Dep. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said on Wednesday that it would be “extraordinarily difficult for foreign adversaries to change vote tallies.” His assurance is in stark contrast to President Trump, who has expressed unfounded security concerns about mail-voting and blocked additional funding to the U.S. Postal Service.

The Department of Justice may investigate whether four Democratic-led states mishandled their nursing homes during the Covid-19 pandemic, reports Politico. Officials are requesting data from Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, four states that allowed state-run nursing homes to admit patients who tested positive. Critics say that the states’ policies contributed to tens of thousands of deaths, while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a joint statement dismissed the investigation as a “nakedly partisan deflection” which ignores similar policies in Republican-led states. 
 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Todd Carney, Samantha Fry, Quinta Jurecic, Jacob Schulz, Tia Sewell, Margaret Taylor and Benjamin Wittes continued to dissect the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, adding analysis of the sections on Carter Page and a Trump campaign speech at D.C.’s Mayflower Hotel.

Lester Munson shared an episode of Fault Lines in which he spoke with Joseph Nye, author of the new book “Do Morals Matter?” 

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of The Lawfare Podcast about “Yemen’s Ongoing Tragedy.” David Priess interviewed Elisabeth Kendall, a senior research fellow in Arabic and Islamic studies at Pembroke College, Oxford; and Mick Mulroy, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East. 

Andrew Mines and Devorah Margolin discussed how to combat online terrorism financing. 
 

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