Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Matt Gluck
Monday, July 6, 2020, 6:05 PM

An anonymous individual using the social media account Left Behind USA shared false plans on Facebook last month to burn American flags in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on Independence Day. The account erroneously suggested that the flag-burning would be undertaken in the name of antifa, an anti-fascist movement that has emerged as a target of the President and his allies. Although the local police declared that the post was inaccurate and there was no such protest planned, large crowds of armed people poured into the town on Saturday to protect Civil War statues and prevent what they feared would be the desecration of the flag, writes the Washington Post. Facebook and Twitter removed the Left Behind USA accounts from their platforms last week. The deceptive post comes as many actors have spread disinformation on social media about protests against racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s killing.

The new Chinese national security law is already changing life in Hong Kong, writes the New York Times. Police are now informing protesters in the territory that their demonstrations may be unlawful. Chinese authorities also gathered DNA samples and inspected the homes of individuals allegedly accused of “inciting subversion” by carrying pamphlets which reportedly advocated for Hong Kong’s autonomy. The Wall Street Journal reports that authorities also reportedly detained Xu Zhangrun, a prominent law professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, on Monday. Zhangrun has allegedly published many pieces criticizing President Xi Jinping. According to Reuters, a court in Hong Kong refused bail to the first individual charged under the new national security law Monday after he advocated for Hong Kong’s independence and drove a motorcycle into law enforcement officers.

China’s ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming, accused the United Kingdom of irresponsibly intervening in Chinese governance after Britain spoke out against China’s new national security law and offered British citizenship to three million Hong Kong residents, reports Reuters. Hong Kong was under British control until China regained authority over the territory in 1997. Britain’s criticism of Beijing’s role in Hong Kong comes as Boris Johnson’s government takes a more aggressive stance against China in other contexts. After initially declaring that Britain would allow Huawei, a Chinese telecom giant, to play a role in developing Britain’s 5G networks, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has changed his tune, promising to protect British technological infrastructure from “hostile state vendors.”

The U.S. military executed hundreds of jet launches and aeronautical drills near the South China Sea this weekend in a large display of naval power, writes the Journal. China also completed substantial military drills in the region. These demonstrations of naval prowess come amid a recent escalation of trade and military tensions between the U.S. and China. U.S. officials claim that China may be attempting to increase activity in the South China Sea as the coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S.

Thirteen states experienced record-high numbers of COVID-19 case averages over the last week, and five states reported new highs in coronavirus hospitalizations, according to the Post.

Margrethe Vestager, the digital-policy and antitrust czar in the European Union, is proposing legislation that would impose regulations on U.S. tech giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook, writes the Journal. The regulations would address the platforms’ content moderation decisions, anti-trust issues and likely would establish a new digital tax on the U.S. companies.

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that states can forbid their representatives in the Electoral College from casting votes for presidential candidates who do not win their states’ popular vote, writes the Hill. Affirming the states’ authority to compel their electors to cast their ballots for a particular candidate, Justice Elena Kagan explained in the majority opinion, “All they [the founders] put down about the electors was...that the States would appoint them, and that they would meet and cast ballots to send to the Capitol.” This decision comes after several “faithless” electors attempted to deny Electoral College votes to President Trump during the 2016 election.

A seven-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy were shot and killed in Chicago on Saturday, reports the New York Times. Since June 20, nine children under the age of 18 have been killed in Chicago. Earlier this month, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot said that Black people in Chicago “continue to be plagued by gun violence.” The wave of violence in the city comes as the U.S. wrestles with questions of racial injustice.

Republican legislators and other notable conservative figures have recently joined Parler, a new social media platform with very limited regulations that is largely occupied by supporters of President Trump, writes Politico. After Twitter began to flag certain tweets from the President and Reddit banned a large Pro-Trump community, many Trump supporters posted on social media that they have taken to using Parler, which has gained 500,000 users in the last week.

Britain imposed sanctions on 45 Russian and Saudi officials Monday including those whom the British government believes were involved in the deaths of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and American journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Reuters. British foreign minister Dominic Raab said, “...the thugs and the despots, the henchmen and dictators, will not be free to waltz into this country to buy up property...or frankly to siphon dirty money through British banks or other financial institutions.” Russia pledged a response to the British measures.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Andrew Quilty discussed the Doha agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban and its implications for peace within Afghanistan moving forward.

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