/Today’s Headlines and Commentary – Lawfare (via Qpute.com)

Today’s Headlines and Commentary – Lawfare (via Qpute.com)

The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in connection with the death of George Floyd last May, is set to begin today, according to NPR. Chauvin was seen on video pinning his knee on the neck of Floyd, who lay handcuffed on pavement, for nearly nine minutes. Floyd’s death prompted national outrage and sparked a countrywide movement protesting racial injustice and police misconduct.

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a case which would have presented the U.S.’s highest court with a chance to review the scope of qualified immunity, a legal defense that has been used to shield police accused of excessive force, reports Reuters. The appeal was made by Shase Howse, a Black man from Cleveland who says that in 2016, police slammed him to the ground and struck him as he was trying to enter his own home. The officers contend that they used only the force necessary to subdue Howse. In 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted the policemen qualified immunity, ruling that no “clearly established” precedent showed that their actions were illegal.

On Sunday, the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war announced that it conducted retaliatory air strikes on Houthi military targets in Sanaa, the Houthi-held capital of Yemen, writes France 24. The Iranian-backed Houthi movement has recently stepped up cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia as violence in Yemen’s Marib and Taiz regions continues to intensify. The Saudi coalition stated that the Biden administration’s February decision to revoke the U.S. designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organization has emboldened the rebel group.

In a statement released today, the U.S. committed to defending Saudi Arabia following the weekend’s Houthi-claimed assaults on oil facilities in the kingdom, reports Reuters. The attacks drove Brent crude prices above $70 a barrel—their highest since January 2020. “The heinous Houthi assaults on civilians and vital infrastructure demonstrate lack of respect for human life and disregard for peace efforts,” the U.S. embassy to Saudi Arabia wrote in a Twitter post.

Hackers likely sponsored by the Chinese government have conducted a widespread cyberattack affecting businesses and government agencies, according to the New York Times. The attack, which began in January, is estimated to have impacted tens of thousands of victims—a number that could rise as researchers continue to learn about the breach. As the proliferation of cyberattacks by adversaries such as Russia and China presents a serious challenge to the Biden administration, the White House will likely begin taking retaliatory actions in the coming weeks, writes the Times.

As the U.S. troop withdrawal deadline of May 1 draws closer, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has proposed a new interim power-sharing government between Taliban and Afghan leaders in Afghanistan, reports the Washington Post. In a letter that accompanied the peace proposal, Blinked warned Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that a U.S. departure could lead to “rapid territorial gains” by the Taliban, emphasizing that the White House is actively considering its options with withdrawal and writing, “I am making this clear to you so that you understand the urgency of my tone.”

Beijing’s newly unveiled five-year economic plan contains plans to accelerate the development of advanced technologies such as computer chips, artificial intelligence and quantum computing through increased investment in research and development, writes the Journal. The plan also details China’s vision for 2035, when it expects to have made “significant breakthroughs on core technologies and seeks to be among the most innovative nations globally.”

The State Department has sanctioned Ihor Kolomoisky, a prominent Ukrainian businessman who was involved in “significant corruption” according to Secretary Blinken, reports the Post. “This designation reaffirms the U.S. commitment to supporting political, economic, and justice sector reforms that are key to Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic path,” Blinken said. “The United States continues to stand with all Ukrainians whose work drives reforms forward. The Department will continue to use authorities like this to promote accountability for corrupt actors in this region and globally.”

ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Mary Beth Altier argued that by learning from best practices for successfully reintegrating Islamic State detainees, policymakers can proactively fight violent extremism.

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