Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Tara Hofbauer
Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 11:21 AM

Riots rocked Baltimore yesterday in response to the death of Freddie Gray. Gray had suffered a severe spinal injury while in police custody earlier this month. He succumbed to his injuries the weekend before last, and his funeral was yesterday. Protests and looting have led to extensive damage in Baltimore, and the National Guard has been called in to quell the unrest. The Washington Post describes the beginning of the clean-up efforts, while the Baltimore Sun provides live updates on the situation.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in Washington today meeting with President Obama. Former commander of the U.S. Pacific Command and Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair explains in Defense One why Mr. Abe is a “rarity: a reliable and consistent ally who comes to honor friendship and cooperation with America rather than lecture us on our policies or harangue us for additional financial and military assistance.”

In an op-ed in the Post, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, explains why President Obama should push Japan to sign onto the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal shares an interview with the President, in which he discussed the TPP, Japan, and China.

Yesterday, the U.S. and Japan announced new military cooperation rules, covering a range of issues - “from defense against ballistic missiles [to] cyber and space attacks, as well as maritime security.” Reuters shares more.

According to Agence France-Presse, the new guidelines will expand Tokyo’s sphere of influence. “Under the revised guidelines, Japan could come to the aid of US forces threatened by a third country or, for example, deploy minesweeper ships to a mission in the Middle East.”

The New York Times reports that, following the massive earthquake that rocked Nepal over the weekend, the official death toll has topped 4,000 people. Due to landslides, blocked roads, and downed phone lines, the local government continues to have difficulty contacting and accessing isolated villages. Aid distribution is, thus, difficult, if not impossible, in Nepal’s more remote areas.

Meanwhile, the Post informs us that international aid organizations are having trouble raising enough money to properly respond to the crisis.

The Times of India shares a live-blog of the current situation in Nepal.

The Los Angeles Times provides helpful answers to questions such as, “Why was the Nepal earthquake so deadly?,” “What is the situation on the ground?,” “What international aid is being sent?,” and “How you can help.”

Afghan forces in the northern part of the country are battling Taliban insurgents to retain control of Kunduz province. After declaring their spring offensive last week, the Taliban is looking to reclaim Kunduz city, their “last stronghold before U.S.-led forces drove them from power in 2001.” Reuters describes the situation.

Saudi-led airstrikes continue to bombard Houthi rebels in Yemen. According to relief workers, the situation there is “a catastrophe, a humanitarian catastrophe.” Fuel is running dangerously low, with only enough left to keep hospitals running for one more week. Residents have fled major cities, such as the capital of Sana’a, and “nobody’s left but thieves,” according to one former resident. Meanwhile, convoys containing food and medical supplies have been blocked from reaching cities like Aden. Reuters reports on the crisis.

The deteriorating situation in Yemen will be discussed during P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran, according to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Officials met for the first time yesterday, following the announcement of an initial nuclear agreement earlier this month. The Times shares more.

AFP details a recent Boko Haram attack in northeastern Nigeria, which has left hundreds dead. According to Nigerian President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, these militants “have nothing to do with religion. They are terrorists and we are going to deal with them as we deal with terrorists.”

The Times describes the origins of some of the weapons owned and operated by Islamic State militants.

Overt Action examines how U.S. counterterrorism forces can better combat “bleedout” - when foreign fighters’ return to the U.S. to perpetrate attacks.

Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are increasingly violating the terms of a negotiated ceasefire. According to the Ukrainian military, militants are once again using rocket launchers, equipment that was supposed to be withdrawn following the February agreement. The Associated Press has more.

Yesterday, the U.N. released the findings of an internal inquiry into specific incidents that took place during Israel’s 50 day conflict in the Gaza Strip this past summer. According to the report, Israel is responsible for the deaths of over forty “Palestinian civilians who had sought refuge in seven United Nations schools.” The Times has details.

In the National Interest, Robert Golan-Vilella explains why the War on Terror is unlikely to end any time soon. He writes, “By the U.S. government’s own accounting, ...we are at war with an unspecified number of organizations across at least six countries.” Furthermore, political realities are such that we are likely to continue our operations in these nations, even after a new commander-in-chief takes office.

Yesterday, Loretta Lynch officially assumed the position of U.S. Attorney General, swearing the oath of office at a Justice Department ceremony. The Post details the event, while the Times covers Eric Holder’s last day in office.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) released his draft for the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) yesterday. Breaking Defense analyzes the impact of some of the proposed provisions, and notes, “If anyone at the White House had hoped the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee would be more compliant than his predecessor, the defense bill out today should end their illusions.”

Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald explains how the bill would “stifle” transfers of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.

Meanwhile, four former Guantanamo detainees, who were transferred to Uruguay in December of 2014, have spent the weekend protesting outside the U.S. embassy there. According to the AP, they want more help with housing, a greater monthly stipend, and better treatment.

In an opinion in the Wall Street Journal, John Hess, the CEO of oil and gas company Hess Corp., explains why he believes the U.S. should lift its oil export ban.

The Post explains how Defense Secretary Ash Carter wants to encourage research and development collaboration among academics, the Pentagon, and private sector companies.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Bobby discussed a recent Wall Street Journal article, analyzing how Presidential Policy Guidance on the use of lethal force applies to Pakistan.

Paul noted the response to the Obama administration’s strong presence at the recent RSA convention in San Francisco.

Wells shared the government’s recently filed response to an “end of war” motion in al-Warafi v. Obama.

Paul informed us of the “Tallinn Manual 2.0 consultation meeting,” in which state legal advisors considered cyber operations that do not rise to the level of an “armed attack.”

Ben highlighted incredible robotics work coming out of Stanford University.

Ben also flagged news that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “has introduced and fast tracked” legislation that would extend authorization for the Section 215 metadata collection program through 2019.

Ben then posted this week’s “Rational Security” podcast.

Sebastian Brady and Yishai Schwartz examined DNI General Counsel Robert Litt’s response to a recent New York Times article that purported to out three covert CIA operatives.

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