Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Anna Salvatore, Tia Sewell
Tuesday, November 3, 2020, 10:23 AM

The National Guard Bureau has established a new unit comprised mainly of military policemen that could be deployed in the event of post-election unrest, according to the Washington Post. The unit was formed in September and was initially described as a rapid-reaction force. Now, National Guard officials have softened their characterization, instead referring to the service members as “regional response units.”

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have spent billions of dollars improving their platforms’ security, policies and processes in the aftermath of online foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election, reports the New York Times. The Times provided a guide detailing the sites’ plans to confront challenges and misinformation facing the companies, before, on and after Election Day.

Three gunmen murdered at least 19 people today at Afghanistan’s Kabul University, writes the New York Times. More than twenty students and faculty were held hostage during the siege, and a video during the incident shows a classroom filled with shattered glass and blood-soaked notebooks. The attack comes after an Oct. 24 suicide bombing at a Kabul tutoring center that killed more than 40 people, most of them high school students, for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility.

The Times also reports that in the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, leaders in the World Health Organization (WHO) agreed not to question China’s pandemic response or visit the Wuhan fish market where the virus may have originated. And the WHO has reportedly given key investigative roles to Chinese scientists, leading Australian virologist Wang Linfa to call the WHO’s inquiry into the virus’s origins “symbolic” and “political.”

A recent U.S. Air Force purchase of dozens of Chinese-made drones has drawn criticism from lawmakers due to security concerns, according to the Wall Street Journal. Critics claim that the drones, which service members plan to use for military testing and training, could compromise critical infrastructure or defense capabilities in the United States by sending information collected back to Beijing.

The Pentagon has quietly begun withdrawing defense attachés from U.S. embassies in Africa, writes the Wall Street Journal. The defense attachés are senior U.S. military representatives at American diplomatic posts who oversee the training of foreign allies’ militaries, help to gather intelligence, arrange arms sales and coordinate U.S. military assets in the event of global emergencies. The moves come as part of a larger U.S. pivot on the geopolitical stage, as U.S. officials have shifted defense resources from Africa, Europe and the Middle East towards countering Russia and China.

Armenian leadership called today for an international investigation into Azerbaijan’s alleged use of mercenary soldiers, according to Reuters. Armenia’s foreign ministry said today that it had captured two Syrian combatants, one on Friday and another over the weekend. Recruiting and using foreign soldiers is illegal under the United Nations Mercenary Convention.

The Pakistan government will soon upgrade the status of part of Kashmir, a disputed region that’s claimed by India but partly occupied by Pakistan. Reuters observes that the plan has drawn condemnation from Indian officials for “[bringing] material changes” to a territory which India claims.

On Sunday, Typhoon Goni made landfall in the Philippines, writes BBC. The storm killed at least 16 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes. The capital, Manila, was largely spared.

ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Bruce Hoffman and Jacob Ware surveyed emerging terror threats from the far right.

Scott R. Anderson and Benjamin Wittes argued that newly released FBI documents show a troubling double standard in how the department treats employees’ political speech.

Scott R. Anderson, Susan Hennessey and Quinta Jurecic wrote that the president’s dealings with a Turkish bank should be taken more seriously.

Jack Goldsmith wondered whether President Trump can sell national security secrets with impunity.

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