Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio, Claudia Swain
Wednesday, September 7, 2022, 2:33 PM

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has ordered Steve Bannon to surrender himself to face charges not yet known to the public, reports The Washington Post. Bannon was called to surrender himself on or by Thursday of this week. Lawfare senior editor Roger Parloff has the rundown on Bannon’s previous charges: two counts of contempt of Congress.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet in Uzbekistan next week, according to a Russian official. Putin and Xi are slated to meet face-to-face at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in the city of Samarkand on Sept. 15. The political, economic, and security summit is reportedly “dominate[d]” by China and Russia. Security analysts suspect that the meeting between the two leaders could foster the “warming [of] ties” between China and Russia, who also both have strained diplomatic relationships with the West, according to the Associated Press. 

The Los Angeles Unified School District was hit by a ransomware attack that rendered its computer systems inoperable. Authorities have yet to name the ransomware used in the attack, and have not yet stated what, if any, data was stolen or damaged. NPR reports that cyberattacks on U.S. school districts have become increasingly popular in the last year, and that ransomware gangs usually orchestrate attacks during holiday weekends, when less security experts and IT staff are likely to be working. 

Kiwi Farms, an online internet forum whose users organize to stalk and harass women and LGBTQ people, is no longer covered by security service Cloudflare. The campaign to make it harder for Kiwi Farms to operate was led by Canadian internet personality, Clara Sorrenti, who was repeatedly harassed and physically threatened by Kiwi FarmsKiwifarms users for many months. Researchers allege that Kiwi Farms-led harassment has resulted in at least three suicides. To learn about what Cloudflare thinks about its role in what content should and shouldn’t stay up, listen to this 2020 episode of Arbiters of Truth featuring an interview with Alissa Starzak, the head of public policy at Cloudflare.

Thousands of Iraqi citizens, referred to as “climate migrants,” are fleeing southern Iraq amid rising temperatures that are destroying crops and marshes. Temperatures in the region have risen by 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 30 years. The climate migrants are reportedly fleeing the south for the northern Iraqi city of Basra in search of employment and better living conditions. The Washington Post reports that decades of political and economic corruption as well as U.S.-backed sanctions and war have left the city with fragile infrastructure that is currently struggling to support its 2 million residents, and likely will collapse amid the arrival of new residents fleeing extreme heat in the south. 

Officials in California are imposing “strategic blackouts” to manage the effects of extreme heat on the power grid. California faces record high temperatures, reaching 116 degrees Fahrenheit in some cities, which leads to higher energy usage as citizens’ air conditioners struggle to keep up. The high energy usage threatens to overwhelm the grid and cause rolling blackouts—a situation these strategic blackouts are meant to prevent.

Conservative Liz Truss became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on Tuesday. Truss became Prime Minister after an internal party vote to appoint her as leader of the Conservative Party, which holds a majority in the U.K. House of Commons. The seat was vacant after Boris Johnson resigned two months earlier, under heavy criticism of his promotion of a lawmakers facing credible sexual harassment accusations. The U.K. currently faces rising food and energy prices, driven by the Russian invasion and inflation, as well as lingering problems of Brexit. Truss recently appointed her cabinet, marking the first time in British history that a white man will not hold any of the United Kingdom’s four most-senior ministerial positions—prime minister, finance minister, foreign minister, and interior minister.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Tyler McBrien sat down with Christo Grozev to discuss a recent story published by Bellingcat exposing the identity of a Russian spy named Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera, who over the course of 10 years had charmed her way into the social circles of NATO members in Naples.

Lawfare hosted a live Q&A on Twitter Spaces to discuss the recent U.S. court ruling that a special master be appointed in the Mar-a-Lago investigation against former president Trump. Hosted by Benjamin Wittes, the panel included Anna Bower, Jonathan Shaub, and Natalie Orpett.

Emily Jin analyzed China’s smart manufacturing ambition and how it relates to China’s broader industrial policy strategy.

Alex Zerden reviewed Julia Morses’s “The Bankers’ Blacklist: Unofficial Market Enforcement and the Global Fight Against Illicit Financing” (Cornell University Press, 2021).

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk in which he sat down with Ryan Fedasiuk and Gigi Gronvall to discuss biotechnology security in China and the United States. 

Schneider shared another episode of ChinaTalk in which he spoke with Paul Scharre about artificial intelligence and the future of warfare. 

Roger Parloff analyzed Judge Francis Matthew’s decision to oust Couy Griffin (R-N.M.) from his position as Otero County commissioner under section 3 of the 14th amendment for his role as an “insurrectionist” during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

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