Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Emily Dai
Tuesday, October 26, 2021, 11:37 AM

The United States froze $700 million in direct aid to Sudan’s government in response to a military coup on Monday that threatened to end the country’s transition to democracy, according to the New York Times. Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, called for the immediate release of those arrested and the restoration of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other civilian leaders to power. Price also warned the Sudanese military to not use violence against protesters amid reports that soldiers had fired on protests.

Researchers at Microsoft concluded that Nobelium, the Russian-based agency behind the 2020 SolarWinds cyberattack, has once again targeted the technology supply chain to establish a mechanism for surveilling targets of interest to Russia’s government, says ABC News. The attack uses software from adulterated software from SolarWinds that can be exploited by hackers to steal information. Javed Ali, the former director of counterterrorism at the National Security Council, said that this incident was a continuation of Russia’s cyber attacks against the United States. "This operation also raises a host of questions about the limits of the Biden administration's approach to Russia,” said Ali.

The Chinese government has placed Lanzhou, a northwestern city of about 4 million people, under lockdown on Tuesday in an attempt to stamp out a small domestic coronavirus outbreak, reports the New York Times. Residents were told not to leave home except in emergencies. China has maintained a strict “zero Covid” policy that has included strict local lockdowns imposed over even small-scale outbreaks. Zhang Hao, a spokesman for the provincial health commission, said at a news conference that Lanzhou “[w]ill continue to use big data and house-by-house investigations to strengthen the management and control of key populations and key areas.”

The Justice Department announced Tuesday that European and U.S. authorities have arrested 150 people and seized more than $31 million in a joint crackdown on drug trafficking on the darknet, says AP News. The darknet, which exists within an encrypted network and is only accessible through specialized anonymity-providing tools, has become an increasingly popular platform to buy drugs since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Amnesty International announced Monday that it would close its Hong Kong offices because of a China-imposed national security law that has made it “[e]ffectively impossible” for rights groups to work freely without repercussions from the government, according to the Wall Street Journal. The security law criminalizes terrorism, subversion, secession and collusion with foreign forces, but Amnesty claims that the vague language used in the legislation allows authorities to restrict free expression and repress political dissidence.  Following anti-government protests in Hong Kong in 2019, the Chinese government has asserted increasing control over the territory. Amnesty said the law has prompted at least 35 groups to disband, including unions and activist groups. 

A cyberattack widely disrupted the sale of gasoline across Iran on Tuesday, according to Reuters. The attack rendered the government-issued smart cards used to purchase cheaper, rationed gas unusable. 

AP News shared a new poll by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that found a majority of Americans believe global warming is very or extremely important to them as an issue. The study also found a majority of Americans want their electricity to come from clean energy rather than more environmentally-damaging sources such as coal or natural gas.


ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Benjamin Wittes and Peter Strzok discuss Strzok’s recent article on the Michael Sussmann indictment, the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and the decrease in the number of FISA orders issued over the course of the Trump presidency.

Eric Halliday and Rachael Hanna discussed mechanisms and the constitutional implications of state anti-protest laws.

Matthew Anderson wrote about Belarus’s weaponization of migrant issues as hybrid warfare against Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

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