Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Tuesday, June 30, 2020, 2:37 PM

Multiple police officers in Aurora, Colorado are now under investigation after appearing in photos near the site of Elijah McClain’s death, according to the Washington Post. On Monday night, a local news source reported that the photos in question allegedly depict officers reenacting the chokehold that preceded McClain’s death. The Aurora Police Department has declined to comment on the content of the pictures. McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, died in police custody in August of 2019. Aurora PD initially declined to punish the officers involved but has since reopened the investigation into McClain’s death amid pressure from mass protests against systemic racism and police brutality.

White House officials were briefed as early as March of 2019 on classified intelligence indicating that Russia was covertly offering bounties to Afghan militants to kill American soldiers, according to the Associated Press. The administration has said that President Trump was not briefed on the Russian bounty program because the intelligence had not been fully verified, yet reports suggest that the assessment was included in at least one of the president’s written daily intelligence reports in 2019.

The White House briefed Democratic lawmakers today on intelligence about the Russian bounty program, writesReuters. This comes after the White House held a separate, Republican-only meeting yesterday to share information about the intelligence assessments of the alleged Russian payments.

A new study in the U.K. has found that ethnic minorities are significantly more vulnerable to COVID-19 complications than the country’s white majority, writes the Wall Street Journal. This disparity mirrors similar data in the United States. Experts say that this pattern reflects long-standing racial inequalities that have been magnified by the pandemic.

The European Union has announced that it will reopen its borders on July 1st, but will not allow visitors from the U.S., Brazil or Russia to enter the continent, reports the Times. This comes as new cases surge across the U.S. and at least a dozen American states and cities have halted plans to reopen.

Beijing passed a new law that further curtails Hong Kong’s autonomy, reports the Journal. Despite U.S. and European criticisms that the legislation will suppress civil liberties, members of the National People’s Congress voted unanimously today to pass the bill. The bill comes just one day before the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule.

Australia has committed to an investment of $930 million dollars to bolster its cyberdefenses over the next decade, according to the Times. The move follows what current and former intelligence officials have described as an aggressive surge of cyberattacks led by the Chinese government to interfere within Australian politics and disrupt the country’s vital infrastructure. “The federal government’s top priority is protecting our nation’s economy, national security and sovereignty,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison, continuing, “Malicious cyberactivity undermines that.”

On Monday evening, Google announced that it removed misleading ads for companies that charge people voter registration fees or harvest their data for marketing purposes, writes Reuters. The ads were spotted by the nonprofit watchdog group Tech Transparency Project, which published a report showing that these ads appeared when users searched for terms such as “register to vote,” “vote by mail” and “where is my polling place.”

Satellite photographs show that a major explosion in Iran actually occurred at a missile production facility near Parchin military base, reports the Times. Tehran had claimed last week that the blast occurred as a gas explosion at the base itself. American officials have said they do not believe the explosion was part of a sabotage operation. Iran’s missile program has in the past been targeted by the U.S. and Israel in sabotage operations, but American and Israeli intelligence officials insist they were not involved in this incident.

Scientists have recently discovered that a new strain of the H1N1 swine flu virus is spreading through asymptomatic transmission in China, according to the Times. Experts caution that the new virus should be “urgently” controlled as the world continues to confront the current COVID-19 pandemic.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Aditi Shah analyzed the role that federal courts are playing in litigation about immigration detention related to coronavirus.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring an interview with Eric Posner on his new book, “The Demagogues Playbook: The Battle for American Democracy from the Founders to Trump.”

Trey Herr, Nathaniel Kim and Bruce Schneier discussed potential policy solutions to Internet of Things security concerns.