Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Friday, June 26, 2020, 4:47 PM

On Thursday, the House passed a comprehensive Democrat-led police reform bill named for George Floyd, reports the Washington Post. Floyd’s death ignited nationwide outcry against racial inequality and police brutality in the U.S., resulting in a massive wave of support for police reform measures. The bill contains several provisions that would make it easier to hold officers legally accountable for misconduct. Among the proposed changes includes a provision that would eliminate qualified immunity, the rule that shields police officers from lawsuits for alleged civil rights violations. The vote was largely divided along partisan lines, with the Trump administration threatening a veto.

As demonstrators across the country have toppled statues depicting Confederate leaders, slaveholders and colonial figures, President Trump threatened “retribution” against such protestors, writes Politico. On Thursday night the president spoke out at a Fox News town hall in Wisconsin, saying, “at some point, there’s going to be retribution because there has to be. These people are vandals, but they’re agitators, but they're really — they’re terrorists, in a sense.”

The Trump administration’s coronavirus task force will hold a press conference this afternoon after almost two months of silence, according to the New York Times. Today’s press conference comes as cases of COVID-19 are rising at alarming rates nationally, with multiple states hitting single-day record numbers of new positive test results.

On Thursday night, the White House urged the Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare, writes Politico. Democrats have criticized the move’s timing, arguing that it would threaten health insurance access for more than 20 million Americans during a moment in which a growing number of coronavirus survivors are struggling with health complications.

Facebook today announced a new set of policies devoted to combating misleading information, hate speech and voter suppression on its platform, reports the Journal. Among these new policies, Facebook will begin to label posts that violate its rules but are deemed “newsworthy.” This change comes amid mounting criticism of Facebook’s relatively hands-off approach to moderating content on its site.

A Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered Afghan militants bounties to kill coalition forces, according to the Times. U.S. intelligence briefed President Trump on the Russian bounty program in late March. 20 American soldiers were killed in action in Afghanistan in 2019, but it is unclear whether any of these deaths may be connected to Russia’s covert operation.

A Russian hacking group that calls itself Evil Corp. has conducted sophisticated ransomware attacks on American companies, according to the Times. By targeting employees working from home during the pandemic, these cyberattacks are designed to gain access to corporate networks and force the companies into paying millions of dollars to have their own data restored. Experts say that these attacks are a major threat to U.S. election infrastructure. In December 2019, the Justice Department unsealed charges against alleged members of the Evil Corp. group.

Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that the Justice Department will not oppose a bid by Roger Stone to delay his upcoming prison sentence until September, reports Politico. Stone, a longtime ally of President Trump, cited health concerns due to the danger presented by the pandemic in prisons.

Satellite images show that China has recently constructed new bunkers, tents, and storage units for military hardware near the site of its border clash with India that occurred earlier this month, writes BBC. Neighboring Pakistan has expressed concern about tensions in the region following the June 15 China-India confrontation that left 20 Indian soldiers dead, reports Reuters. The three nuclear-armed neighbors have historically had tensions over their Himalayan borders and the recent clash has prompted renewed alarm about the stability of the region. According to the Times, Beijing’s increased military assertiveness reflects an ever-growing aggressive posture on the world stage.

Australian police raided the house and office of a New South Wales state lawmaker today in a move likely connected to a Chinese influence probe, writes the Wall Street Journal. Australia has recently tightened counterespionage laws as experts have expressed concern that China is ramping up its interference efforts in the country’s domestic politics.

In Brussels, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accepted a proposal to work with the E.U. to combat China’s “provocative military actions,” reports Politico. However, after the Trump administration has systematically withdrawn from a collection of the United States’s international agreements, European leaders are reportedly skeptical of working with the White House.

Early this morning there was a huge explosion near a military and weapons development base in Iran, reports the Times. Many Tehran residents posted photos of a bright orange sky that followed two consecutive booms. Given the importance of the military complex, analysts have since questioned whether the explosion could have been an accident or sabotage. Iranian officials have not reported any casualties thus far.

Following a Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office indictment against Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi for war crimes, a peace summit to resolve conflicts between the Balkan states has been postponed, writes the Hill. The prosecutor, who works as a part of Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague, has accused Thaçi of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged involvement in persecution, torture and over 100 murders of political opponents and ethnic minorities between 1998 and 2000.

Six people were hospitalized this morning following a stabbing attack in the city center of Glasgow, Scotland, according to BBC. Initial reports suggested that three had died, including a male suspect shot by police, but law enforcement has yet to confirm the number of casualties.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Matthew J. Aiesi and Amanda L. Minikus argued that by consistently relying on the jus ad bellum paradigm, the U.S. can more credibly signal its willingness to use force.

Lester Munson shared an episode of Fault Lines on systemic racism and diversity in the national security apparatus.

Matt Gluck and Tia Sewell posted a U.S. Supreme Court decision that holds that the limits set by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 do not violate the Suspension Clause, denying noncitizens the right to judicial review of deportation decisions.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring an interview with Whitney Phillips and Ryan Milner on their new book about the current online information environment.

Elliot Setzer posted an indictment charging WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with charges related to his role in intentionally compromising classified information.

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk discussing the June 15th China-India border confrontation and its implications for international relations.

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