Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Tuesday, October 3, 2017, 2:14 PM

The White House said that “now is not the time to talk” with North Korea after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson disclosed the existence of direct diplomatic channels to Pyongyang, Reuters . Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders qualified her rebuke to Secretary Tillerson, saying that conversations about repatriating detained Americans in North Korea would continue. Sanders also said the president still has confidence in Tillerson, the Wall Street Journal. To respond to the long-range North Korean missile threat, Australia will equip a new fleet of anti-submarine frigates with advanced air-defense technology, the Journal . The addition of the missile defense systems comes as Australia upgrades and expands its military capabilities to combat rising threats in the Asia-Pacific region.

Trade unions in Catalonia led a general strike to protest police violence during the region’s tumultuous independence vote, the Washington Post . Protesters blocked highways and shut down businesses and schools. Demonstrations frequently verged on violence. In response, Madrid said that the police response to the referendum was “proportionate.” Spain’s minister of justice warned that any declaration of independence from Catalonia could allow Madrid to intercede in Catalonia’s autonomous government. The European Commission said the vote was illegal and called for a resolution of the crisis, the Journal. The New York Times’s Steven Erlanger about how the referendum catches the EU between its support for sovereignty and for democratic rights.

Emails between former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and Russian political operatives suggested that Manafort used his campaign role to gain influence with Russian oligarch Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, the Atlantic . Manafort’s correspondence with an intermediary for Deripaska detailed Manafort’s efforts to restore his relationship with the billionaire, a former client of Manafort’s political advisory firm. The emails imply that Manafort offered his political expertise in exchange for access to Deripaska.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah arrived in Gaza to begin talks with Hamas that could lead to a reconciliation between the two Palestinian factions, the Post . The two groups will discuss a proposal for Hamdallah’s Fatah party to take over the administration of Gaza from Hamas. Also on the agenda are elections in Gaza, the potential dismantling of Hamas’ armed wing and their stance towards Israel.

Facebook estimated that 10 million people saw on its platform the Russian-linked ads that it presented to congressional investigators last week, the Journal . About half the ads were seen before the 2016 election. Russian operatives used a targeting tool to track interested users and deliver custom ads and messages to them, the Post. They employed tracking systems to lead users to ads that played on racial divisions, fears about immigration and disinformation. Adam Schiff, the top democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said he intends to make a “representative sample” of the ads public, Politico .

The International Committee of the Red Cross visited the American citizen being held by the U.S. military as an enemy combatant in Iraq, the Miami Herald . Neither the Red Cross nor the Pentagon has released any more details about the man’s identity.

Iran deployed tanks along its border with Iraqi Kurdistan as part of joint drills with the Iraqi military in the wake of the Kurdish independence referendum, Reuters . Kurdish officials said the move was a dangerous escalation in the ongoing regional crisis. Tehran, Ankara, and Baghdad are cooperating as they seek to prevent Kurdistan from gaining independence. The regional government in Kurdistan said on Tuesday that it would hold presidential and parliamentary elections on November 1, according to . The new elections would bolster the legitimacy of Kurdistan’s leadership before any negotiations on independence take place.

The U.S. will expel nearly two-thirds of the Cuban embassy’s staff in reciprocity for the drawdown of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Havana following mysterious incidents that affected their health, Reuters . On Friday, the State Department announced it was cutting staff at the U.S. embassy in Havana to protect U.S. diplomats from incidents of hearing loss, dizziness, and fatigue.


ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Paul Rosenzweig about the news that Hewlett Packard Enterprises allowed the Russian military to review the source code for a cybersecurity system used by the Pentagon.

Kate Bateman that a new corruption amnesty law in Tunisia undermines its post-Arab Spring democratic transition.

Vanessa Sauter an amicus brief from Orin Kerr submitted in Carpenter v. U.S.

Stewart Baker the Cyberlaw Podcast, featuring discussion with Nicholas Weaver about the Equifax hack, Google’s compliance with DOJ orders, and the vulnerabilities equities process.


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