Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Hadley Baker, Claudia Swain
Monday, September 19, 2022, 5:15 PM

This week, world leaders will gather in New York City for general debate in the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)—the first in-person meeting of the body since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the agenda for discussion is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the rising cost of food and energy worldwide. UNGA’s high-level week commenced on Sept. 13.

The United States exchanged a convicted Taliban criminal with an American citizen who had been held hostage for over two years in Afghanistan. The American contractor, a civil engineer named Mark Frerichs, is 60 years old and was captured in January 2020 by a group believed to be connected to the Taliban. The other half of the exchange, Bashir Noorzai, was convicted of heroin trafficking in 2008 and has spent the intervening years in American detention.

Hurricane Fiona arrived in Puerto Rico over the weekend, knocking out power and causing flooding and mudslides, plunging the island territory once more into environmental disaster. Although 1.3 million are without power and many roads are blocked, Puerto Rico’s Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi has said that Fiona is not expected to be as deadly as Hurricane Maria was for the island in 2017, adding that “Maria served as a lesson, an exercise for our emergency response teams at all levels.” Biden declared the disaster a national emergency on Sunday, which will provide the federal government with a wider range of tools to potentially provide assistance.

At least two are dead after Typhoon Nanmadol began to hit southern Japan with wind and record-breaking rain. Over 300,000 households are without power on the southernmost of Japan’s islands, Kyushu, in a super typhoon Japanese officials have called “unprecedented.” In a special warning, the government advised around 10 million in Kyushu to seek shelter or move to higher ground. The storm is expected to continue over central Japan and hit Tokyo.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed support for Armenia following fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan that began last week and that Pelosi said was “initiated by the Azeris.” At a press conference during her trip to Armenia, the Speaker condemned Azerbaijan’s actions, as the country crossed Armenia’s internationally recognized borders for the first time since a truce was brokered in 2020 by Russia. Since the fighting started last Tuesday, at least 180 have been killed.     

The Russian military has fired a missile less than 900 feet from reactors at the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant, the second-largest functioning nuclear power plant in Ukraine. According to Ukrainian officials, the damage caused the shut down of a secondary unit of the plant and resulted in partial power outages; no essential safety equipment was damaged and the plant continues to function. This plant is 300 miles west of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, where active shelling has caused concern for safety around the area.

The Pentagon initiated an audit of its methods of conducting clandestine information warfare, giving military commands a month to provide full accounts of their activities, including their social media accounts, reports the Washington Post. This order comes after a report released by internet researchers Graphika and the Stanford Internet Observatory last month revealed that, over the past two or three years, Twitter and Meta took down 150 fake personas and media sites from their platforms that they suspected were run by the U.S. military and violated their terms of service.

The foreign minister of Chad stepped down on Monday, reportedly due to disagreements with senior officials over the ongoing talks with rebel and opposition groups. Although he did not mention the talks specifically, Cherif Mahamat Zene stated in a letter that he felt himself “at odds with parallel actions and initiatives” with unnamed senior officials. Zene had held this post since May 2021.

The government of Ghana declared that the outbreak of the Marburg virus within its borders has ended. The first confirmed case of this virus was on July 17 of this year. Three people in total died in Ghana during this latest outbreak, which has been seen in Africa at least a dozen times since 1967.

ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared the latest episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Quinta Jurecic spoke with Benjamin Wittes and Paul Rosenzweig about Ken Starr’s legal legacy.

Brian Fishman assessed the realities of “holding big tech accountable,” proposing four principles to guide lawmakers as they open the messy and unsatisfying Pandora’s box of tech regulation.

Jurecic shared the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s ruling on content moderation in NetChoice v. Paxton.

Hyemin Han shared the Biden administration’s Executive Order giving national security direction to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.

Natalie Orpett shared the Justice Department’s motion in the Eleventh Circuit for a partial stay of U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s Sept. 5 order following Cannon’s denial of the Justice Department’s original motion for partial stay in district court.

Tricia Bacon and Elizabeth Grimm wrote about the importance of the founders of terrorist organizations in establishing frameworks for the future leaders and explored the role of safe havens.

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