Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ajay Sarma, Christiana Wayne
Friday, August 6, 2021, 2:02 PM

The Justice Department announced a pattern and practice probe into the Phoenix police department’s use of force and handling of the city’s homeless population, reports the Washington Post. Earlier this year, the Justice Department launched investigations into the Minneapolis and Louisville police departments. Attorney General Merrick Garland explained the special focus on law enforcement treatment of homeless populations as related to the controversy over extending the eviction moratorium, noting that a spate of mass evictions would affect public health and safety. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Police Chief Jeri Williams expressed a desire to cooperate with the federal government on reforms.

The Justice Department inspector general’s probe into unauthorized FBI media contacts could not identify specific individuals responsible for leaks or evidence that Rudy Giuliani had been given information about the investigation into Hillary Clinton, which impacted the 2016 presidential election, writes the Washington Post. Suspicion that Giuliani had inside knowledge of the investigation into Clinton increased after his statements to the media and then-FBI director James Comey’s announcement that the bureau was reopening an investigation into Clinton’s use of private email servers with classified information. Giuliani denied speaking with active FBI agents about the case and the inspector general report, released Thursday, was unable to identify the sources of specific leaks or find evidence that information had been leaked to Giuliani in particular.

Afghan officials reported Friday that Zaranj, the capital of the Nimroz province, has been captured by the Taliban, according to the BBC. Zaranj, which sits near the border between Afghanistan and Iran, is the first provincial capital to be taken by Taliban forces since 2016. A spokesperson for the police in Nimroz told Reuters that the city was taken because the government had not provided sufficient reinforcements. There were reports that Afghan officials in Zaranj struck a deal with the Taliban, allowing them to escape to Iran.

Tigray rebels have taken the Ethiopian city of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to 13th-century churches, reports the BBC. Lalibela’s deputy mayor told the BBC that there has been no shooting in the city, though he is concerned about the safety of the churches. Residents are fleeing the advancing rebels as fighting between Tigray rebels and government forces extends from Tigray and into the Amhara and Afar regions of Ethiopia.

Hezbollah said it launched rockets at open ground near Israeli forces a day after Israel began air raids in southern Lebanon, according to Al Jazeera. The Israeli air force said most of the rockets were intercepted by the aerial defense system, and its forces retaliated by hitting rocket launch sites in Lebanon. The rockets come on the third day of hostilities between the two nations which threaten to break the peace prevailing since the one-month war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.

Poland’s justice minister said the country should not stay in the European Union “at all costs,” according to Deutsche Welle. Zbigniew Ziobro's remarks were in response to the EU’s demands that the country renounce its judicial reforms. The EU says the reforms, which create a disciplinary chamber for judges and give the justice minister more control, undercut the nation’s judicial independence. In a statement to a Polish newspaper, Ziobro called the EU’s demands “illegal blackmail” and said, “The belief that the EU is a good uncle and gives us money, and that we should accept all its demands at all costs, is propaganda and false.”

Thousands of people fled wildfires in Greece and Turkey, including one blaze just north of Athens that left one person dead, reports the Associated Press. The fires in Turkey have killed eight people in the last 10 days, and Greek firefighters were fighting 56 active fires. The coast guard has launched a major effort to evacuate thousands of people in trapped towns, and the U.S. embassy in Athens said U.S. Naval Forces Europe is providing an aircraft to assist the firefighting efforts.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared this week’s episode of the Arbiters of Truth podcast, in which Evelyn Douek speaks with Jennifer Broxmeyer and Rachel Lambert, both of Facebook, about the Facebook Oversight Board’s work and how they would evaluate its impact and its prospects.

Yasmina Abouzzohour analyzed developments in Morocco’s foreign policy, including its normalization of relations with Israel, mediation in Libya and investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

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