Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Matt Gluck
Friday, July 17, 2020, 5:43 PM

Unidentified individuals, alleged to be federal officers, detained and used tear gas on protesters in Portland, Oregon on Thursday night and Friday morning, reports the New York Times. The unidentified agents reportedly shot one demonstrator in the head with an impact munition, causing a severe head injury. The Portland mayor and police commissioner condemned the use of force, calling it “irresponsible.” In June, widespread criticism emerged after unidentified officers attempted to quell protests in Washington D.C. following George Floyd’s killing.

Approximately 40 percent of the 65 largest police departments in the U.S. have banned or bolstered restrictions on officers’ use of neck restraints since George Floyd’s killing, found a Washington Post analysis. The study also showed that 42 of the departments include a “duty to intervene” requirement in their use-of-force protocols; this mandates that officers who witness an excessive use of force must attempt to stop it. Nationwide protests following George Floyd’s killing have included calls for significant reforms to police use-of-force policies.

The Department of Defense provided the White House with options to remove a number of U.S. troops from South Korea, according to the Wall Street Journal. This development comes as President Trump demands that South Korea significantly increase the amount it pays the United States for its continued deployment of forces in the country. Since 1991, Seoul has paid the U.S. to maintain a military presence in South Korea.

In a Thursday speech, Attorney General William Barr encouraged U.S. companies to resist appeasing or collaborating with Chinese authorities, reports the Times. Barr criticized movie directors for their censorship of information that could be harmful to China, and he condemned large American tech companies for complying with Chinese government regulations. These statements come as the White House contemplates banning all Chinese Communist Party members and their families from traveling to the United States, according to Reuters.

The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions Friday against four Chinese individuals and one company allegedly involved in trafficking fentanyl, reports Reuters.

The Trump administration reinstated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) coronavirus data dashboard on Thursday, writes the Post. On Tuesday evening, the administration had directed hospitals to send coronavirus data to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rather than the CDC. This prompted the CDC to remove its dashboard, which tracks the number of people with COVID-19 and hospital bed availability, as the Center stopped receiving the data directly from hospitals as a result of the Tuesday directive. However, following the Thursday decision, the CDC will now publish the data it receives from the HHS. The United States experienced its highest number of new coronavirus cases on Thursday, reports the Times.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp brought a lawsuit Thursday against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Atlanta City Council aimed at restricting Atlanta authorities from enforcing the city’s policy requiring individuals to wear masks in public, writes the Associated Press. Bottoms and other mayors in Georgia say they will continue to enforce their mask mandates. This dispute comes as Georgia faces a surge of coronavirus cases.

The Pentagon revealed a new policy Friday that effectively prohibits displaying the Confederate Flag on Department of Defense property, according to Politico. Defense Secretary Mark Esper wrote, “The flags we fly must accord with the military imperatives of good order and discipline, treating all our people with dignity and respect, and rejecting divisive symbols.”

Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, executives said Friday that Google will forbid websites and apps from sharing ads that promote disinformation about the coronavirus, reports Reuters.

A recent British study determined that a recent heatwave in Siberia serves as “unequivocal evidence of the impact of climate change on the planet,” reports the BBC. The temperatures in Siberia were more than 40 degrees above the average in the first six months of the year.

On Friday, the U.S. government plans to execute its third prisoner this week, convicted murderer Dustin Lee Honken, according to Reuters. Before Tuesday, the federal government had not conducted an execution since 2003. Honken’s lawyers have raised legal challenges to the Department of Justice’s lethal injection protocol. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court overrode two lower court injunctions that would have delayed the executions of condemned individuals.

On Thursday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launched an investigation into the large-scale hack of Twitter on Wednesday, reports the Journal. During the attack, hackers gained access to the accounts of several prominent individuals, including the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, and tech mogul Elon Musk. Security experts believe hackers may have executed the attack through a breach of Twitter’s internal account-reset systems. There is a concern that hackers could exploit similar vulnerabilities on the platform to disrupt political discussions around the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Durward Johnson and James Kraska provided an alliance-driven approach to improve U.S. defense against potentially devastating biological weapons.

Jacob Schulz discussed former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman’s July 9 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee and organized Berman’s statements into a timeline of his firing.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring a conversation with Jane Lytvynenko, a senior journalist at BuzzFeed News who often reports on disinformation, about the role of journalists in our current misinformation environment.

Peter Margulies commended Ilya Somin’s new book, “Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom,” for its insightful libertarian justification of an “open border” policy.

Elliot Setzer shared a House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on violent extremism and accelerationists.

Lester Munson shared a discussion on the Fault Lines Podcast about China’s repression of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Province and the Hong Kong National Security Law, among other topics.

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