Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Christiana Wayne
Friday, June 4, 2021, 3:22 PM

In a response to the Facebook Oversight Board’s recommendations in May, Facebook said it plans to suspend former-President Trump for two years, reports the Washington Post. The company cited his incitement of the Jan. 6 riots and threat of further violence. This suspension is part of a new policy of time-bound suspension for violators of the company’s policy. Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs for Facebook, said, “We know today’s decision will be criticized by many people on opposing sides of the political divide — but our job is to make a decision in as proportionate, fair and transparent a way as possible, in keeping with the instruction given to us by the Oversight Board.”

Nigeria has suspended Twitter indefinitely two days after the social media giant removed President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet threatening to punish regional secessionists, according to Reuters. Information Minister Lai Mohammed said the suspension is in response to "the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence.” The government has provided no details on the length or specific form of the suspension. 

Roman Protasevich, the Belarusian dissident journalist who was detained by Belarus’s KGB last month, appeared in an interview on state television crying and with visible wounds, writes the Washington Post. This appearance has renewed fears that Protasevich is being coerced into confessions and political propaganda. In the interview he declares respect for Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and says, “I never want to get involved in politics again, nor I want to get involved in these dirty tricks. I want to hope that I can fix it all and live a calm, ordinary life, have a family, children, stop running away from something.” Human rights organizations and allies of Protasevich said his statements in the interview are clearly coerced and not to be trusted.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers issued a statement urging President Biden to evacuate Afghan allies from Afghanistan as soon as possible, per Politico. They cite concerns that the thousands of Afghan citizens who helped American forces over the past two decades will be punished by the Taliban once U.S. troops are withdrawn this summer. The Pentagon has said it is not currently planning to evacuate these allies, but it is one of the options under consideration.

Iranian proxies in Iraq have attacked sensitive American targets with more sophisticated weapons than before, reports the New York Times. At least three times in the past two months, militia forces have used drones to divebomb targets. Michael P. Mulroy, the Pentagon’s top Middle East policy official, said the drones are quickly becoming more sophisticated at a low cost with help from Iran’s Quds Force.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. will stop donations to Republicans who contested the results of the 2020 presidential election, according to Reuters. The corporation was one of many that froze all political contributions after the Jan. 6 riots. This month, the company will resume donations through its PAC but will continue to freeze contributions to the “handful” of politicians it had previously supported that voted to overturn the Electoral College results. The hold will last through the 2022 midterm elections, at which point the PAC will consider reinstating donations on an individual basis.

Hong Kong authorities arrested pro-democracy activist Chow Hang Tung for promoting unauthorized assembly on the 32nd anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, writes the BBC. Chow is the chairwoman of the Hong Kong Alliance which plans annual vigils commemorating victims of the deadly crackdown in Beijing. For the second year in a row, authorities have prohibited the vigil, citing coronavirus restrictions. Chow urged citizens to commemorate the anniversary separately. Just before her arrest, she told the BBC, “I am prepared to be arrested. This is how Hong Kong is now. If you fight for democracy under an authoritarian regime, being arrested is unavoidable. Let it come. I am willing to pay the price for fighting for democracy.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Bryce Klehm and Alan Rozenshtein considered presidential immunity and First Amendment protections with regard to Rep. Bennie Thompson’s lawsuit against Donald Trump, Rudy Guiliani and far-right extremist group the Oath Keepers for their actions on Jan. 6.

Christiana Wayne shared the Supreme Court’s ruling in Van Buren v. United States, a case with major implications for the future of the Computer Frauds and Abuses Act.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast's Arbiters of Truth series on our online information ecosystem. Lawfare Senior Editor Quinta Jurecic and Evelyn Douek spoke with Nikhil Pahwa about the latest clashes between online platforms and the Indian government.

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