Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Tuesday, October 13, 2020, 3:48 PM

Johnson & Johnson has paused all clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Wall Street Journal. The decision was announced on Monday after a volunteer in the study fell ill with an unexplained sickness. An independent data-safety monitoring board is now investigating the illness.

President Trump’s campaign used a photo featuring General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, without the Pentagon chief’s “knowledge or consent,” writes Politico. The military has strict rules against active-duty service member participation in political campaigns.

On Sunday, Gen. Milley also declined to endorse the president’s timeline for U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and emphasized the military’s responsibility to “stay out of domestic politics,” reports NPR.

The men charged in a conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also discussed kidnapping Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, according to the Washington Post. The new information was revealed by FBI Special Agent Richard Trask in a hearing in Michigan this morning set to determine whether some of the suspects can be released on bond.

Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of violating a ceasefire agreement brokered on Oct. 10, writes Reuters. The fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which erupted on Sept. 27 this year, is the worst it has been since the countries fought a 1991 war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a conflict which killed about 30,000 people. International groups fear that the crumbling treaty could create a new humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh.

A new Democrat-led report from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee found that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents returned U.S. border-bound migrants to Honduras in an unauthorized operation, reports the Wall Street Journal. The U.S. agents detained the Honduran migrants in Guatemala and physically deported theman action strictly prohibited by the State Department, which provides funding and oversight for Customs and Border Protection efforts.

Facebook announced yesterday that it will ban posts that deny the Holocast, according to Bloomberg. The new policy marks a sharp reversal of statements made about Holocaust denialism by the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, in 2018. Facebook attributed the change to the documented increase in anti-Semitic violence worldwide in addition to “the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people.”

The global threat from nuclear weapons and missiles has worsened during the Trump presidency, writes the Washington Post. Last weekend, North Korea paraded a new and untested intercontinental ballistic missile through the streets of Pyongyang. As Russia, China, North Korea and Iran continue to develop their weapons arsenals, Trump has yet to sign a significant new arms control deal after nearly four years in office.

The Times published a profile of Johnny and Luther Htoo, twins who in 1999 took the command of Myanmar’s God’s Army. Now adults, the legacy of war lingers.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Bobby Chesney explained how and why U.S. Cyber Command conducted a disruption operation against Trickbot, a malware package which enables a massive botnet.

Andrew Weissman discussed Russia’s 2016 election interference and presented actions that Congress and the Justice Department should take to protect American democracy from foreign influence campaigns.

Alvaro Marañon shared an international statement released by the Justice Department that reiterates the challenges end-to-end encryption poses to public safety.

Emma Svoboda described how contested parliamentary actions sparked a political crisis in Kyrgyzstan.

Christopher Docksey explored changes that U.S. policymakers could consider making in order to satisfy Schrems II requirements for cross-border data exchanges with the EU.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring footage from last week’s Lawfare Live event on the functioning of Congress during the combined crises of the coronavirus and an extremely polarized presidential election.

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