Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ajay Sarma, Christiana Wayne
Monday, July 26, 2021, 1:26 PM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Rep. Adam Kinzinger to the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, reports the New York Times. Kinzinger was censured by his own party after disavowing former President Trump and voting to impeach him after the Capitol riots. Kinzinger is the second Republican appointed by Pelosi to the eight seats typically reserved for the majority party. The appointment comes after Pelosi barred Republican Reps. Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, two of the former president’s staunchest defenders, from joining the committee. The committee will hold its first hearing tomorrow, during which members will hear testimony from Capitol and D.C. Metropolitan Police officers.

A new United Nations report says Afghanistan recorded over 1,600 civilian deaths in 2021 so far, a 47 percent increase from this time last year, according to the BBC. Casualties in May and June of this year rose to their highest level since the U.N. began collecting these data in 2009. The report says anti-government forces were responsible for 64 percent of deaths, and 32 percent of all casualties were children. The escalation in violence comes as American forces withdraw and the fragile Afghan government fends off Taliban forces which have retaken large parts of the country.

Tunisian President Kais Saied announced that he dismissed the country’s prime minister and suspended the parliament after large anti-government protests swept the country, reports the BBC. Some demonstrators, who protested the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the country’s economic crisis, celebrated the news, but political opponents have called the move a coup. Saied said the suspension of parliament would last at least 30 days and he would continue to govern along with the new prime minister. On Monday, Al Jazeera TV reported its offices had been raided by Tunisian police.

Talks between the Chinese government and the U.S. State Department on Monday did not appear to indicate opportunities for dispute resolution between the U.S. and China, writes the New York Times. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the highest-ranking Biden administration official to visit China thus far, raised a number of  issues during the talks in Tianjin, including atrocities in Xinjiang, reduced political freedoms in Hong Kong, alleged Chinese cyberattacks and military operations in the South China Sea. Chinese officials, for their part, accused the U.S. of committing genocide against Native Americans and fumbling the coronavirus response. China’s foreign ministry also referred to the Biden administration’s policies as an “attempt to contain and suppress China.” Sherman, however, signaled that there were “substantive discussions” on areas of common concern, though it remains unclear whether they will produce cooperation. 

The Justice Department dropped charges against five foreign researchers accused of concealing ties to China, reports the Washington Post. The prosecutions were part of a high profile crackdown on alleged Chinese spying in the United States. One defendant, cancer researcher Tang Juan, was set to stand trial today in the Eastern District of California on charges of visa fraud. The motion to dismiss her case was granted last week, and motions are pending in the other four cases. Senior department officials said the decision to drop the cases was not due to lack of evidence.

Iran’s parliament postponed review of a controversial bill that would criminalize the use of blocked sites and give some internet controls to armed forces, according to Al Jazeera. The bill  was first introduced three years ago and has since garnered criticism, including from Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, who say the restrictions would limit citizens’ free internet access and weaken the government’s role in cyberspace decision making. The legislation could still pass through parliament, but it would have to be approved by the Guardian Council before becoming law.

The Pentagon is maintaining its earlier position that drones developed by Da Jiang Innovations (DJI), a Chinese manufacturer, “pose potential threats to national security,” reports The Verge. A statement from the Department of Defense on Friday claimed that a report suggesting that DJI drones are safe for government use was “unauthorized” and that the policy surrounding DJI drones remains unchanged. Though tests of the drones have not found evidence of espionage, the Department of the Interior grounded its DJI drones. DJI was also added to the Entity List over allegations that the company supplied the Chinese government with technology in Uyghur detention camps. 

President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi are expected to announce their agreement to end the United States military’s combat mission in Iraq by the end of the year, according to the Associated Press. The mission will shift from helping Iraq defeat the Islamic State to playing advisory and training roles. Al-Kadhimi is meeting with Biden at the White House today, and a detailed communique explaining the shift will be issued after the meeting. 

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