Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Friday, April 2, 2021, 1:31 PM

Today marks the fifth day in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, reports the New York Times. Sgt. Jon Edwards, the officer who secured the crime scene after Floyd was pinned to the ground and died, was the first witness to take the stand this morning. Testimony today revealed that the chief homicide detective at the Minneapolis Police Department was on the scene the night that Floyd died, which analysts remarked shows that officers on the ground were treating the incident as a possible murder from the outset. Lt. Richard Zimmerman, the chief homicide detective and longest-serving police officer in the city’s department, was the next to testify. Zimmerman described Chauvin’s actions against Floyd as “totally unnecessary” and “uncalled for.”

Government data shows that southern border crossings in March reached the highest monthly total since 2006, as more than 171,000 migrants were taken into custody last month, reports the Post. The data bolsters Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s March 16 statement that the U.S. is “on pace to encounter more individuals at the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.” It also underscores the challenge facing the White House as administration officials have raced to add emergency shelter capacity for unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in unprecedented numbers.

New apps that carry pieces of health information—most critically, coronavirus vaccination status—may soon be required to gain access to airplanes, event venues and other public places, according to the Washington Post. But as the Post notes,there are several challenges associated with so-called “vaccine passports” in the absence of a common standard. As a growing list of organizations are racing to tackle the problem, standardizing an approach to carry around just one pass has become a technical headache.

As the ruling junta in Myanmar move to stamp out civilian dissent, authorities ordered internet providers to cut wireless broadband today, further isolating a population that already lost access to mobile data,, according to Reuters. Protests continue to rage in Myanmar, even as hundreds of demonstrators have been killed in a crackdown by security forces following widespread opposition to the military’s Feb. 1 overthrow of the country’s democratically elected leadership.

The U.S. and Iran have agreed to resume negotiations to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, signaling a potential breakthrough for the Biden administration, writes the Wall Street Journal. Senior officials from Iran, France, Germany, the U.K., Russia, China and the U.S. will gather in Vienna on Tuesday to begin discussions, though there will be no direct talks for the time being between Tehran and Washington. As noted in the Journal, the restoration of the nuclear deal is under significant pressure: Tehran has a parliamentary bill on the table that threatens to produce more uranium metal—a key material in a nuclear weapon core—and at the end of May, a nuclear monitoring deal between the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog and Iran is set to expire.

The U.N. mission in Mali has reported that four peacekeepers were killed and several others were injured in an attack on its base in the town of Aguelhok conducted by “heavily armed terrorists,” reports Reuters. The mission has recorded about 230 fatalities since 2013. In recent years, Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have escalated violence in Africa’s Sahel region, though there was no immediate claim of responsibility for today’s attack.

Some Facebook employees are raising concerns that Beijing is using the platform to disseminate propaganda, specifically citing sponsored posts from Chinese organizations which seek to promote the message that Uighur Muslims are thriving in the Xinjiang region, according to the Journal. Despite Beijing’s statements otherwise, the U.S. and some European governments contend that Chinese leadership are committing genocide against the Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in the Xinjiang region. Last week, Facebook said it was removing a network of China-based hacking accounts that were used to spread malware to spy on journalists and dissidents in the overseas Uighur Muslim community. 

A train car in Taiwan derailed this morning, killing at least 50 people and injuring about 150 others, reports the Times. The crash occurred in a tunnel north of the city of Hualien around 9:30 a.m., after the train was reportedly struck by an unattended construction vehicle that rolled down a hill as the train was passing by.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Rashawn Ray examined police misconduct settlements and presented various proposals to restructure civilian payouts and increase accountability for police misconduct.

Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared this week’s episode of the National Security Law Podcast, which was recorded virtually before a live audience of Texas Law alumni.

Jamie P. Horsley argued that the U.S. closings of Confucius Institutes, or Chinese language and culture centers, exacerbate a national foreign language deficit at a time when training mandarin speakers with knowledge of China should be a national priority.

Jen Patja Howell shared the latest edition of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth miniseries on disinformation and misinformation, in which Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Issie Lapowsky, a senior reporter at the tech journalism publication Protocol.

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