Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Tara Hofbauer
Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 12:19 PM

The Washington Post shares the latest disclosure based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Ellen Nakashima and Barton Gellman report that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) gave the National Security Agency (NSA) authority to conduct surveillance on all but four countries: Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

CBS News highlights a recent paper from researchers at Harvard and Boston University.  It argues that loopholes in current laws may enable intelligence officials to oversee the data of U.S. citizens in the same way that they do for foreigners.

Yesterday, the President sent a letter to Congress, informing members that up to 200 additional U.S. Armed Forces personnel will be deployed to Iraq to help secure the U.S. Embassy and Baghdad International Airport. The Defense Department indicated that the additional troops “arrived in Iraq Sunday and [Monday]... from locations within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.” The Associated Press points out that this latest development brings the overall U.S. troop presence in Iraq up to 750.

However, as President Obama sends more forces to Iraq, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) are working on an AUMF reform amendment. Defense News has the story.

Members of the Iraqi Parliament met today to form a new government, but after Sunnis and Kurds left during a recess, there were not enough representatives to reach a quorum. The New York Times notes that a speedy resolution to Iraq’s political woes is now unlikely. Indeed, in an interview with BBC News, President of the Kurdistan Regional Government Massoud Barzani stated, “Iraq is effectively partitioned now.” Therefore, he intends to hold a referendum on Kurdish independence in a few months.

The Post indicates that, after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) declared a new Islamic caliphate yesterday, residents of Mosul, a city in northern Iraq that was swiftly captured by the insurgents, are concerned about the militants’ ability to govern.

The Times reports that ISIS has overtaken al Qaeda as the most popular jihadist organization. Meanwhile, the United Nations has announced that for the month of June, the violence in Iraq has killed at least 2,417 Iraqis and wounded 2,287 more. Reuters has more details.

The cease-fire in eastern Ukraine ended today. The Associated Press describes the violence that has already overtaken the area. According to the Post, President Petro Poroshenko “would be ready to return to the negotiating table if his opponents released hostages, allowed international monitors on the borders, and halted weapons flowing in from Russian territory.” Meanwhile, Reuters shares that the Russian Foreign Ministry is blaming the U.S. for Poroshenko’s refusal to extend the cease-fire.

According to USA Today, negotiators will resume talks tomorrow over a nuclear deal with Iran. In an op-ed in today’s Post, Secretary of State John Kerry outlined what Iran must do in order to reach an agreement.

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. ship MV Cape Ray has arrived in Italy, where it will receive 1,300 tons of Syrian chemical weapons to be neutralized in international waters. According to the National Journal, a senior Pentagon official has called U.S. actions toward Syria “consistent” with the Defense Department’s recently released “Strategy for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction.” Read more on the report here.

The Guardian shares that Israeli search volunteers have found the bodies of the three teenage boys who were abducted on their way home from school on June 12. According to Israeli military spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach “were under a pile of rocks, in an open field” near Hebron, a town in the West Bank. An anonymous senior Israeli official told the Times that the boys had been shot. Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the news, saying, “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay.”

Reuters indicates that this morning, Israeli aircraft bombed 34 sites in the Gaza Strip. The United States is counseling both sides to show restraint. In a press conference yesterday, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said, “We have... been in touch with both sides and have been urging continued security cooperation.”

Bombs near the Egyptian presidential palace yesterday killed two police officers attempting to diffuse them. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi responded, “I promise before God and their families, the state will get just and speedy retribution.” Al Arabiya and BBC News have more details.

In a break with a more than 60 year old policy, the Japanese Cabinet today approved a new interpretation of its Constitution. According to the Associated Press, the Japanese military can now act in the “collective self-defense” of the country and its allies. The Times and Reuters also have the story.

The Times reports that protesters marched through Hong Kong today, demanding a fuller democracy.

American security firm Symantec has discovered that hackers associated with a European group known as Dragonfly have attacked over 1,000 energy and industrial companies in 84 countries---including the U.S., Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Poland. BBC News has the story.

Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has an opinion piece in USA Today.  He defends the targeted killings of U.S. citizens abroad.

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