Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Matt Gluck
Monday, July 27, 2020, 3:15 PM

Thousands of demonstrators across the country marched on Saturday in protest of the recent federal response to the demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, reports the New York Times. In Seattle, at least 45 protesters were arrested, and police set off flash grenades and sent pepper spray into the crowds of demonstrators. One protester in Austin, Texas, was shot and killed by a man from within a vehicle, and the alleged shooter was detained by law enforcement. Saturday’s events resulted in widespread property damage in several U.S. cities.

Senate Republicans reportedly came to an agreement with the White House Sunday on new coronavirus relief legislation, which reportedly included an extension of unemployment payments, according to Reuters. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have suggested a piecemeal approach to coronavirus relief, which was rejected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Mnuchin and Meadows also negotiated with Senate aides over the weekend about language in the new Republican bill. On a Monday call, Senate Republicans said the bill would temporarily decrease weekly unemployment payments from $600 to $200, according to the Washington Post. House Democrats have proposed maintaining the $600 weekly benefits until January.

President Trump’s National Security Adviser, Robert O’Brien, has tested positive for the coronavirus, reports the Hill. A White House official said President Trump nor Vice President Pence have any “risk of exposure,” and that the National Security Council will not experience any setbacks as a result of O’Brien testing positive.

A COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by the U.S. biotech firm Moderna will enter phase three testing Monday, writes NPR. This final stage of testing will include 30,000 volunteers, who will be divided into two groups. The individuals in one of the groups will receive the vaccine, while those in the other group will receive injections of salt water. This is the fifth vaccine to enter phase three testing, but the first developed by a U.S. company.

Approximately 4,000 federal workers are bringing claims against the U.S. government, contending that they contracted the coronavirus while working, writes the Post.

A category one hurricane, Hanna, hit southeast Texas on Saturday, adding to the devastation caused by the recent surge of coronavirus cases across the state, reports the Times.

Several U.S cities are facing shortages of health care workers, writes the Post. Many of the shortages are in regions of the country experiencing rising numbers of coronavirus cases, leaving medical facilities in precarious situations.

Satellite images show that Iran has transported a model U.S. aircraft carrier to the Strait of Hormuz, near the Persian Gulf, writes Reuters. Iran occasionally uses mock American warships to train its Revolutionary Guards and naval forces in war games. In April, Iranian military officials said Tehran would destroy U.S. military ships if Iranian security in the Gulf is threatened.

Russian officials said Monday that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) shot and killed an individual who was allegedly planning a mass shooting attack, according to Reuters. Russian authorities alleged the suspected attacker had ties to a Syrian militant group.

Military contractors connected to the Kremlin have recently taken control of two large-scale Libyan oil facilities, according to the Wall Street Journal. Over the last two months, fighters with links to the Russian government have attempted to secure multiple Libyan oil facilities. The U.S. has criticized Russian activities in Libya and cited them in its imposition of sanctions on a Russian businessman earlier this month.

The chair of the European Parliament’s delegation for China relations, Reinhard Bütikofer, criticized the car manufacturer Volkswagen for its “complicit” behavior regarding the treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Province, China, reports Politico. Bütikofer contended that Volkswagen appeared hesitant to respond to a 2020 report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which revealed that Volkswagen, among many other companies, benefits from the work of Uighurs as part of “potentially abusive labor transfer programs” in Xingjiang. Since approximately 2014, the Chinese government has reportedly seized over one million Muslim citizens and now holds them in re-education camps in Xinjiang Province.

The Taliban is pushing non-governmental aid organizations and companies conducting business in Afghanistan to register their presence in the country with the extremist group, writes Reuters. A Taliban spokesman said, “We will not allow any agency to work against the interest of our beloved Afghanistan, Islam...so we want to register all of them to have information about their activities.” This directive comes as Taliban officials prepare to meet with the Afghan government to discuss ending the combat in Afghanistan.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Andrew Crespo analyzed the comments made by Kris Cline, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official, regarding DHS law enforcement activities in response to the protests in Portland, Oregon.

Alexandra Stark discussed the recent history of congressional arms sales oversight and evaluated the importance of Congress’s involvement in arms sales.

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