Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Anna Salvatore
Thursday, December 3, 2020, 4:01 PM

Cyberattackers are apparently targeting vaccine distribution centers, according to the New York Times. As a result, the Department of Homeland Security will issue a warning today to companies that are storing doses of the vaccine in ultra-cold refrigerators. Josh Corman, an official at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), encouraged companies “involved in vaccine storage and transport to harden [their] attack surfaces” against what some experts suspect are Russian and North Korean hackers.

The U.S. State Department imposed new visa restrictions today on members of the Chinese Communist Party and their close relatives. The Washington Post writes that the new rules will limit tens of millions of Chinese citizens’ access to the United States, as they will only be able to enter the U.S. once for a limited period of time. “Through various entities, the CCP and its members actively work in the U.S. to influence Americans through propaganda, economic coercion, and other nefarious activities,” explained a spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. The Post notes that Communist Party membership is an informal prerequisite for high-ranking jobs in Chinese society.

Both Facebook and Instagram will take down any posts containing false information about the vaccines, such as the baseless claim that the vaccine contains microchips, reports the Associated Press. The company’s announcement comes after the United Kingdom approved emergency-use of a COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech.

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine may bestow immunity for at least three months. Though the study was rather small, featuring only 34 participants who received two doses each, University of Maryland vaccine expert Kathleen Neuzil told the Post that “it’s good news.”

The New York Times describes a wave of harmful rhetoric targeting election workers. An anonymous election official said that he had received 10 or 12 photographs of nooses—a type of threat which has been sent not just to high-ranking officials, but also to ordinary staff members in recent weeks. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said last month that her family had received “utterly abhorrent” death threats after President Trump lost her state.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to hear President Trump’s lawsuit asking the court to overturn the state’s election certification. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a majority of the seven justices rejected Trump’s case because state law requires challenges to election recounts to be filed in a circuit court. "We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high-profile cases," wrote Justice Brian Hagedorn, a conservative who joined his three liberal colleagues in the majority decision. "Following the law governing challenges to election results is no threat to the rule of law."

In a report released today, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said that COVID-19 will worsen poverty in 47 countries designated as “least developed,” writes Deutsche Welle. “Progress towards achievements on nutrition, health and education are being undone by the onslaught of the crisis,” according to UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi in the report’s foreword.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of Rational Security entitled the “‘You Get a Pardon and You Get a Pardon’ Edition.” Benjamin Wittes, Tamara Cofman Wittes, Susan Hennessey and Shane Harris discussed the latest news in national security and interviewed Noah Efron, host of The Promised Podcast.

Josh Blackman explained why Attorney General Bill Barr had the statutory authority to appoint John Durham as special counsel.

Matthew Kahn analyzed the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in Van Buren v. United States, a case involving the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Jack Goldsmith shared the Winter 2020 Supplement for his foreign relations law casebook, co-written by Curtis Bradley and Ashley Deeks.

Nicholas Weaver wondered, “How Easy Is it to Build a Robot Assassin?”

Howell shared an episode of The Lawfare Podcast entitled “An Assassination in Iran.” Benjamin Wittes sat down with Scott R. Anderson, Suzanne Maloney and Natan Sachs about the implications of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s assassination in Tehran.

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