Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Wednesday, August 12, 2020, 5:03 PM

The Multnomah County district attorney will not prosecute people arrested at Portland, Ore. protests on nonviolent misdemeanor charges, according to the Associated Press. In a statement last night, the district attorney announced that the new policy recognizes that outrage and frustration over the nation’s history of racial injustice “can escalate to levels that violate the law.”

Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, who embraces the QAnon conspiracy theory, won a House primary election in Georgia on Tuesday, according to the New York Times. Because she ran in a deep-red district, the victory all but ensures she will be elected into Congress. President Trump reportedly called Greene to congratulate her on the victory. More than a dozen political candidates across the U.S. have expressed some degree of support for QAnon, which has been labeled a potential domestic terrorism threat by the F.B.I.

The White House is preparing sanctions against prominent Lebanese figures aligned with Hezbollah, writes the Wall Street Journal. U.S. officials say by imposing sanctions on carefully selected Lebanese politicians and businessmen, they hope to shape the new government as the country recovers from last week’s explosion at a port in Beirut.

TikTok tracked user data in apparent violation of a privacy safeguard in Google’s Android operating system, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. The app collected unique identifiers from millions of mobile devices, effectively taking personal data without user consent. Security experts say the tactic was concealed through an unusual added layer of encryption. TikTok reportedly ended the practice in November of last year.

Joe Biden has selected Kamala Harris to be his running mate, reports Politico. Harris has been a U.S. senator since 2017, following her term as California attorney general. If elected, Harris will be the first woman, the first Asian American and the first Black vice president in the United States.

Police in Belarus beat and fired live rounds at protesters on Tuesday night, reports Reuters. Security forces have clashed with demonstrators for the past three nights, since Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko claimed to have won a re-election victory that critics argue was rigged. So far, police have detained about 6000 Belarusians in arrests related to the unrest.

A State Department watchdog found that Woody Johnson, the U.S. ambassador to Britain, has made “offensive or derogatory comments” including remarks about race, sex and religion, according to Reuters.

Today, 34 current and former members of a federal health advisory committee warned that new U.S. rules on coronavirus data collection will have “serious consequences on data integrity” and are burdening hospitals, writes the New York Times. This follows a White House order last month requiring hospitals to send daily reports about COVID-19 cases to a database controlled by the Department of Health and Human Services instead of the Center for Disease Control.

Nearly 1500 Americans died by COVID-19 yesterday, according to the Times. The U.S. reported 53,344 new infections yesterday, but there remain politically-rooted divisions on wearing a mask, a practice that public health officials agree is crucial to controlling the virus’s spread.

A county sheriff in Florida banned deputies from wearing masks at work, writes the Post. His order also prohibits visitors from donning masks at the sheriff’s department.

North Korea has begun pushing a propaganda campaign targeted at foreign audiences on YouTube and Twitter, reports NPR. In a series of recent videos, a woman named Un A leads viewers on tours of the country while speaking in English. It is unclear who is responsible for the posts.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Alan Z. Rozenshtein argued that a lawsuit to dissolve the National Rifle Association runs counter to democratic norms.

Jeremy Gordon summarized the Department of Justice’s review of deficiencies in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications.

Jim Dempsey analyzed the political strategy behind banning TikTok and WeChat and argued that the moves are part of a comprehensive campaign to rid the U.S. telecommunications and internet ecosystem of all Chinese influence.

Christopher Estep discussed what lessons Republican legislators can take away from the contest among Democrats for leadership of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring discussion with Lawfare editors Benjamin Wittes, Margaret Taylor and Scott Anderson on last week’s DC Circuit rulings and their implications for congressional oversight.

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