Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Monday, July 20, 2020, 5:07 PM

Protests against police brutality and racial injustice intensified in Portland, Oregon, this weekend, according to the New York Times. Last week, reports emerged of unidentified federal law enforcement officers in Portland, despite the disapproval of local authorities, who have claimed that the federal response has aggravated the situation.

After seeing videos of camouflaged federal officers throwing protesters into unmarked vans in Portland, Navy veteran Christopher David decided to go to the protests Saturday, reports the Washington Post. David called on the federal officers to explain why they were not honoring their oath to the Constitution, and agents subsequently beat him, using a baton and chemical irritant. David was taken to a nearby hospital, where he learned that his right hand was broken and would require surgery.

On Monday, President Trump defended the federal crackdown in Portland, writes Reuters. “We’re sending in law enforcement,” Trump told reporters. “We can’t let this happen to the cities.” The president also noted that he would send law enforcement to more cities, citing New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland.

A leading COVID-19 vaccine candidate showed promising results in early human trials, reports the Wall Street Journal. Experts note that these results mean a shot could be ready for mass production as soon as September, but the vaccine remains unproven and will now undergo much wider trials. The vaccine candidate, which is being developed by University of Oxford researchers and AstraZeneca, caused no serious side effects for study participants. Today, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that there is no promise of a successful coronavirus vaccine developed by the end of this year, according to Reuters.

China is considering retaliatory measures against European telecom manufacturers Nokia and Ericsson if the EU bans China’s Huawei Technologies Co. from its 5G networks, writes the Journal. Last week, the U.K. announced that it would bar British companies from purchasing Huawei equipment.

In the latest escalation between London and Beijing, the U.K. today suspended an extradition treaty “immediately and indefinitely” with Hong Kong, citing China’s new security law, reports the Times. The new Chinese law, which gives China broad power to crack down on political dissent, has drawn much criticism from foreign governments for subverting freedom of speech in the city.

Several Chinese companies are using a Uighur labor program to produce face masks during the pandemic, according to a Times video investigation. The program sends Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic minority from the Xinjiang region of China, into factory and service jobs. “There are these coercive quotas that cause people to be put into factory work when they don’t want to be,” said Amy K. Lehr, the director of the Human Rights Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “And that could be considered forced labor under international law.”

A newly public copy of a whistleblower’s complaint alleges that top officials enabled misconduct by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to the Times. Sec. Pompeo has been accused of abusing taxpayer money and is currently under investigation for his role in the May firing of inspector general Steve A. Linick, who was conducting an inquiry into Pompeo’s actions. The whistleblower claims that despite complaints made about Pompeo’s alleged misconduct, some officials “specifically directed subordinate staff to continue facilitating questionable activities after the concerns were raised.”

On Sunday Twitter officially responded to the July 17 hack on its platform that compromised the accounts of 130 high-profile people, reports AP. “We’re embarrassed, we’re disappointed, and more than anything, we’re sorry. We know that we must work to regain your trust, and we will support all efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Twitter wrote. The cyberattack highlighted a major security flaw that comes as people continue to question the tech company’s ability to protect its users from misinformation in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election.

More than 50,000 protestors have gathered in the Russian Far East despite calls for calm from the Kremlin, writes the Times. The unrest began after the July 9 arrest of Sergei Furgal, a popular regional governor. Furgal is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, one of the few political parties in Russia that is not entirely controlled by the Kremlin.

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