Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Sarah Tate Chambers, Hannah Kris
Friday, August 31, 2018, 4:18 PM

Federal law enforcement officers arrested a California man, Robert D. Chain, on Thursday after he made several threatening calls to the Boston Globe, reports the Post. In his phone calls threatening to shoot members of the paper, Chain allegedly called the Boston Globe the “enemy of the people,” a phrase popularized by President Trump.

American military and intelligence officials disagree over the strategy and course of the war in Afghanistan, reports the Wall Street Journal. Many intelligence officials believe that President Trump’s South Asia strategy is not working. While the military’s view of the war, according to an official is “cautiously optimistic.

A Cambodian court has sentenced an Australian filmmaker to six years in prison for espionage, said the Journal. James Ricketson, age 69, was accused of using journalism as a cover for espionage activities during the 22 years he has repeatedly visited Cambodia to film documentaries. The court would reportedly not say for what country Ricketson was accused of spying.

On Thursday, President Trump repeated his call to freeze the salaries of federal workers, according to the Post. Because of the president’s statement, federal workers would not received a scheduled 1.9 percent pay raise without a new law. Lawmakers from both parties opposed the measure. The raise reportedly accounts for inflation and a rise in cost-of-living expenses.

The Atlantic published emails exchanged by DHS analyst and Trump political appointee Ian Smith, who has resigned, with individuals apparently friendly with white supremacists. In a 2015 email chain including Smith, one correspondent referred to a home as “judenfrei,” the German word used by Nazis to describe areas where all Jews had been deported, arrested or killed.

Democratic lawmakers are calling for hearings into why the State Department is denying passport applications for Americans living along the border, reports the Post.

In response to the Trump administration cutting all funding for the U.N. agency that aids Palestinian refugees, the German government has promised to increase its funding, reports Reuters. While the German foreign minister did not provide an exact number, he stated that it would be less than the $217 million gap created by the U.S.withdrawal, and he called on the EU and others to find a way to finance the agency.

Sen. Orrin Hatch wrote the Federal Trade Commission and asked that it investigate Google’s search and online advertising practices, according to the Post. When asked to support the letter’s claim that “Google has, on occasion, decided to remove form its platforms legal businesses that the company apparently does not agree with,” Hatch’s spokesperson cited Google’s ban of firearms equipment on the company’s shopping platform and its ban of payday-loan advertisements.

The Myanmar military released 75 child soldiers from service on Friday, reports Reuters. Since signing an U.N. joint action plan on child soldiers in 2012, the military has released 924 minors from service.

Twitter announced a plan on Thursday to begin vetting  advertisers on “legislative issues of national importance” and disclose their identity alongside the ad, states the Post. Organizations seeking to place political ads on Twitter will in some cases be required to verify their identity and location within the United States. The initiative is part of the platform’s effort to prevent bad actors from influencing the U.S. political process.

The Myanmar army used several fake photos in a book on the Rohingya crisis published by the department of public operations and psychological warfare, reports Foreign Policy. Two of the three falsely represented photos were taken outside the country; the other was of migrants leaving the country and was labeled as Rohingya entering the country.

A majority of Americans support the Mueller investigation and believe that Trump shouldn’t fire the attorney general, according to a new Washington Post-ABC poll. Specifically, 63 percent of Americans support the Mueller investigation and 64 percent believe that Trump shouldn’t fire Jeff Sessions.

The director of the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center has claimed that Chinese spy agencies are attempting to recruit Americans through LinkedIn, according to Reuters.

The U.N. refugee agency described Greece’s reception center on Lesbos island as “reaching a boiling point,” reports Reuters. In order to relieve the overcrowded center, the agency asked Greek authorities to speed up the transfer process for eligible asylum-seekers.

Two lawsuits have been brought in Israel and Cyprus against an Israeli software company for illegal spying, said the New York Times. The NSO Group, the company in question, specializes in spyware technology, and reportedly sold their products to, among others, the Mexican and Qatari government for security purposes. The lawsuits have been groups by a Qatari citizen and by a group of Mexican journalists and activists who allege they were targeted by the software.

Iran has been giving short-range ballistic missiles to Shiite proxies in Iraq in recent months, according to Reuters.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Stephanie Leutert and Caitlyn Yates explained that a “safe third country” agreement with Mexico is not a solution to the migration flow because it does not address its root causes.

Scott Anderson and Benjamin Wittes submitted their own FOIA requests to discover if and how the Post Office disclosed Congressional candidate and former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger’s SF-86 in an underlying FOIA request.

Scott Anderson, Hayley Evans, and Hilary Hurd created a bibliography of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s cases related to national security and foreign policy.

Robert Chesney discussed the transferring of the 600 Islamic State fighters that are being held in Syria, including two detainees that the Trump administration is considering detaining at Guantanamo Bay. 

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly attributed to an email by Ian Smith, a former Department of Homeland Security appointee, the Nazi term "judenfrei." Smith was, in fact, a recipient of the email and did not use the term himself but responded with a joke. This error has been corrected as of 4:06 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 6, 2018.

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