Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Wednesday, May 25, 2022, 2:46 PM

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A gunman killed at least 19 children and two adults at a Texas elementary school, reports the New York Times. On Tuesday, the 18-year-old gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, armed with several weapons. According to a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety, the gunman went to the school after shooting his grandmother. Law enforcement officials report that after entering the school, the gunman barricaded himself into a classroom and “just began shooting numerous children and teachers that were in that classroom, having no regard for human life.” The shooting at Robb Elementary School is the deadliest U.S. school shooting since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, in which 20 children and seven adults were killed. 

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that individuals who participated in an insurrection against the U.S. government can be barred from holding public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, writes Bloomberg Law. The ruling was issued in a lawsuit filed by a group of North Carolina voters to challenge Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s bid for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives. The decision will have little to no effect on Cawthorn because he lost his re-election bid in North Carolina’s primary after the case was argued. 

The Justice Department released videos that show the leaders of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys meeting just 24 hours before the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to CNN. The six videos show Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes meeting in a hotel parking garage in Washington, D.C. In the videos—shot by a documentary film crew—Tarrio is seen introducing himself to Rhodes and speaking with Bianca Gracia, president of Latinos for Trump. Both Tarrio and Rhodes’s lawyers claim that the meeting was a chance encounter in which nothing of significance to Jan. 6 was discussed. 

The Treasury Department will begin blocking Russian payments to American bondholders, reports the New York Times. The policy is set to take effect on Wednesday, after the expiration of an exemption to sanctions put on Russia by the United States that allowed the country to keep paying its debts to foreign bondholders. After the new policy is implemented, Russia will be barred from making billions of dollars of debt and interest payments to bonds held by foreign investors. Economists suspect that the Treasury’s new policy will lead to the default of Russia’s foreign debt for the first time in more than a century. 

Representatives from Finland and Sweden will travel to Ankara amid Turkey’s opposition to their applications to join NATO, writes the Washington Post. The Nordic countries’ trip was confirmed by Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto on Tuesday at an event at the World Economic Forum. In a statement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan explained Turkey’s opposition to Finland and Sweden’s applications, citing Stockholm’s support of groups Turkey regards as terrorist organizations among other reasons. Finnish and Swedish representatives reportedly hope that diplomatic efforts and conversations made on the trip could help to potentially sway Erdogan in support of their membership in the military alliance.

China has begun planning military drills near Taiwan, writes the New York Times. In a statement announcing the drills, the People’s Liberation Army of China said it was planning combat drills in waters and airspace near Taiwan to send the United States a warning message over its “collusion” with the country. The announcement of the military drills came days after President Biden made remarks in Japan that the United States has a “commitment” to militarily defend Taiwan if it were ever to be attacked by China.  

Leaked documents detail the “draconian” surveillance efforts and reeducation practices of Chinese police forces against ethnic Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region of China, according to the Washington Post. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and other media outlets published thousands of documents and images that detail policy notices and meeting notes about “paranoia of Xinjiang officials over the ethnic Muslim Uyghur population” as well as plans to execute the mass detention program of the ethnic minority group. The files published include thousands of mugshots of detainees—including minors—held in camps across Xinjiang, and security protocols used by Chinese police, including the use of batons, assault rifles and a shoot-to-kill policy for Uyghurs who try to escape. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast in which he spoke with Mark MacCarthy, Jane Bambauer and Maury Shenk about the Justice Department’s new policy for charging cases under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the demise of Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board, and more. 

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Scott R. Anderson sat down with Kristen Eichensehr to talk about whether Russian cyber capabilities and the role of cyber in the future of warfare more generally might have been exaggerated.

George Croner explained the continuing decline in the use of national surveillance authorities over the past two years. 

Carrie Cordero and Asha M. George explained how Congress can strengthen the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to manage its biodefense responsibilities.

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