Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Christiana Wayne
Wednesday, September 8, 2021, 2:08 PM

The trial of the perpetrators of the 2015 Paris attacks which left 130 people dead begins today, according to the BBC. Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving attacker, is being tried along with 13 other defendants in the largest trial in France’s modern history. The trial will include 140 days of hearings involving 330 lawyers and 300 victims. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks that targeted major venues, restaurants and bars on Nov. 16, 2015. French president at the time of the attacks François Hollande, who called the bombings an “act of war,” will also testify during the trial.

Dozens of women in the province of Badakhshan protested against the Taliban’s all-male interim government announced Wednesday, according to the BBC. The Taliban said the protests were illegal, that demonstrators needed permission to march and that they should not have used “abusive language.” There were reports of women being beaten, and local news organization Etilaatroz said some of its journalists covering the protests were beaten and detained.

Workers removed the statue of Robert E. Lee statue that had stood in Richmond, VA, for 131 years, according to the Washington Post. Gov. Ralph Norman and Rita Davis, the former counsel to the governor who made the legal plan for the statue’s removal, looked on as the statue was removed from its base. Northam told reporters this morning, “This day has been a long time coming. Things started back in Charlottesville in ’17 and evolved from there.”

Hong Kong police arrested organizers of a vigil commemorating the Tiananmen Square crackdown, according to the New York Times. Authorities said the group, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, refused to provide information for a police investigation. The organization said the police requested details on its funding and membership to determine if it was colluding with any foreign powers. Those police requests are within the authority of Hong Kong police since the passage of the city’s national security law. The group’s vice chairwoman, Chow Hang Tung, documented her arrest on Facebook. When speaking to reporters on Sunday, Chow said, “If you must say that we are agents of anything, we are the agents of the Hong Kong people’s conscience.”

Coinbase said the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating the cryptocurrency company over a lending program that the company plans to market, according to the Wall Street Journal. Coinbase co-founder and chief executive Brian Armstrong disclosed the investigation in a series of tweets, calling the SEC’s actions “sketchy” and “an intimidation tactic behind closed doors.” The SEC says the lending program would constitute a type of investment that needs to be registered with the government under investor-protection laws. With this dispute, Coinbase joins the several crypto companies who argue that SEC’s oversight does not fit their technology and trading programs.

El Salvador became the first country to accept Bitcoin as legal tender, according to NPR. President Nayib Bukele called the move historic, saying, “We must break with the paradigms of the past. El Salvador has the right to advance toward the first world.” Bukele said previously that legalizing the cryptocurrency would spur investment in the country. A recent poll showed that 68 percent of people disapproved of the new policy, and most respondents said they do not know how to use the new technology.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Lawfare Associate Editor Bryce Klehm talked to Tony Saich, the director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and Daewoo Professor of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, about his new book, “From Rebel to Ruler: One Hundred Years of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Vanda Felbab-Brown discussed whether the Taliban regime will survive.

Jacob Schulz explained what to expect at the French trial for the 2015 Paris attacks.

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