Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Matt Gluck
Wednesday, July 15, 2020, 4:14 PM

George Floyd’s family filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Minneapolis and the four officers involved in Floyd’s fatal arrest, reports the Hill. The suit accuses the Minneapolis police department of maintaining a “culture of systemic racism and disparate treatment of the Black community.” George Floyd was killed in May during an arrest in which Derek Chauvin, a police officer, kneeled on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes as Floyd said he could not breathe. Floyd’s killing sparked nationwide protests against racial injustice and law enforcement misconduct.

The Trump administration ordered hospitals Tuesday to send all coronavirus patient data to a Washington D.C. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) database rather than the C.D.C., according to the New York Times. The HHS database is not available to the public, which worries some health experts. Jen Kates, the director of global health and H.I.V. policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation, said the move “raises questions about not just access for researchers but access for reporters, access for the public to try to better understand what is happening with the outbreak.” Michael Caputo, a former 2016 Trump campaign adviser and the current assistant secretary for public affairs at HHS, says the C.D.C. will still have access to the patient information.

On Tuesday, The Trump administration also rescinded its policy that would have required international students attending American colleges to leave the U.S. if they were not enrolled in at least one in-person class this fall, reports the Washington Post. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with the support of many higher education institutions, sued the Trump administration over the policy. The suits argued, among other things, that the rule violated the Administrative Procedure Act and was meant to compel universities to hold in-person classes.

Former U.S. officials say that in 2018, President Trump authorized the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to execute several clandestine cyber operations targeting Iran and other countries, according to Yahoo News. One official said the authorization, called a “presidential finding,” was “very aggressive” and “gave the agency very specific authorities to really take the fight offensively to a handful of adversarial countries” such as Russia, China and North Korea. The CIA has reportedly conducted at least 12 operations under this finding.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the U.S. will diplomatically stand behind countries that believe their territorial claims in the South China Sea have been violated by China, writes Reuters. The U.S. has demonstrated its opposition to China’s broad territorial claims in the region by moving warships through the South China Sea.

President Trump announced during a press conference Tuesday that he signed a new bill into law that places sanctions on Chinese officials, banks and companies that work to limit Hong Kong’s autonomy, reports Politico. Trump also said that he issued an executive order mandating that Hong Kong will be treated in the same way as the mainland moving forward, according to the BBC.

Iran is investigating a fire that damaged several ships at a port in Southern Iran, reports the Wall Street Journal. Iranian authorities say the cause of the fire is unknown. Several recent incidents have caused significant damage to Iranian nuclear and missile infrastructure, including a large-scale explosion at Natanz, one of Iran’s primary nuclear facilities.

23 U.S. states are experiencing more COVID-19 related deaths than they were two weeks ago, according to the Times. On Tuesday, Florida, Alabama and Utah recorded their highest number of coronavirus deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Republican officials are making plans to move outdoors the Republican national convention in Jacksonville, Florida.

While many universities around the country are planning to frequently test students, faculty and staff to control the spread of COVID-19 on their campuses, public health experts are concerned that testing capabilities in the U.S. are not sufficient to allow for this large-scale testing of asymptomatic individuals, writes the Journal.

Recently, the Small Business Administration (SBA) reportedly received many suspicious requests for advances on coronavirus emergency loans, reports the Post. In March, legislators instructed the SBA to grant advances to those applying for relief through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which ended Saturday. Sheldon Shoemaker, the assistant of inspector general for the SBA, said the EIDL program is currently under investigation.

A fictitious online persona, Oliver Taylor, published articles in prominent publications about Israel and Jewish affairs, writes Reuters. Online profiles label Taylor as a student at the University of Birmingham in England; however, the University says that it has no record of him. Several experts identified characteristic signs in the images of Taylor that confirm his identity is fake. Taylor’s false identity is one example of the emerging disinformation threat of “deepfakes,” apparently realistic false images.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which David Priess spoke with David Rhode, an executive editor of the newyorker.com and author the new book “In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth about America’s ‘Deep State.’” They discussed intelligence, Bill Barr and public trust in government, among other topics.

Keith E. Whittington discussed the creation of the presidential pardon power and the history of its use, arguing for a constitutional amendment to this authority.

Elliot Setzer shared a livestream of a House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing regarding state and federal pandemic supply preparation and response.

Jordan Schneider shared his conversation with Professor Yuen Yuen Ang on the ChinaTalk Podcast. They spoke about Chinese corruption, how 21st century China compares to America during the late 19th century and Professor Ang’s new book, “China’s Gilded Age.”

Frank A. Rose described the U.S. Defense Space Strategy and the political challenges involved in its implementation.

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast about the security of the Internet-of-things (IoT) supply chain, TikTok and Justice Roberts’s decision largely banning robocalls, among other subjects.

Setzer also shared a livestream of a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on transatlantic collaboration during the coronavirus pandemic.

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