Ferguson to reform police and court systems in wake of shooting, protests
Ferguson City Council announced on Monday that it would create a citizen review board to oversee the Police Department and enact additional reforms to the court system, the first major step the town has taken in response to the wave of racially-charged protests, which began last month following the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown by a white officer. Ferguson, which the Washington Post described as a “mostly black town with a mostly white government,” has a tendency to dole out heavy traffic fines, disproportionately affecting low-income citizens who cannot afford private representation and who are often arrested for not paying the fines promptly. In an effort to curb court fees and arrest warrants, the new reforms dictate that Ferguson can no longer rely heavily on fines and court fees as a source of revenue. The City Council reforms are meant to increase the transparency of the police and promote trust between the government and its citizens. However, lawmakers and activists warned that Ferguson is not the only town accused of harboring a history of intimidation and abuse of African Americans and such change would only be meaningful if it sparks widespread reform.
Obama postpones executive action on immigration
This weekend, President Obama delayed using executive power to push immigration reform to relieve pressure on Democrats facing competitive mid-term elections. Candidates feared that executive action would spark widespread backlash against Obama and the rest of the Democratic Party from voters who view the move as a blatant abuse of Presidential power. A highly charged campaign could also lead candidates, both republican and democrat, to adopt more hard-line positions and could drive away support for common-sense reforms. White House officials expressed concern that should Obama act before the elections in November, the future of comprehensive immigration form may be bleak. However, the delay has also prompted backlash from pro-immigration reform activists, who have not forgotten Obama’s pledge to bypass the stagnated Congress and issue directives of his own to overhaul immigration soon after summer came to a close. Obama has stated he is determined to act after the elections. Any executive action the President takes could prevent millions of deportations and provide work permits to many.
Fight against ISIS may continue after Obama leaves office
President Obama plans to address the nation today in an attempt to rally support for a U.S.-led military offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS. The militant Sunni group, which by some estimates has overtaken a third of Iraqi territory, may take three years of sustained effort to defeat, according to White House officials. Both Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have pledged the United States will not send ground troops. Instead, the current strategy includes expanded air strikes as well as training, equipping and advising Iraqi forces, Kurdish fighters and possibly Sunni tribal members. In the final phase of the campaign, the Obama administration hopes to attack ISIS at its base in Syria. However, this part of the plan has been met with resistance from potential allies. U.S. officials have been working to form an international coalition to counter ISIS, which includes both Arab and Western nations. In the end, any military campaign will be accompanied by economic and political efforts, starting with the drastic restructuring of the Iraqi government to include both Sunni and Kurdish representation.
Shaky truce between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia rebels holds
Fighting in two cities is Eastern Ukraine continued this weekend, even after a peace agreement between Kiev and pro-Russia rebels was reached on Friday, calling into question whether the cease-fire would last. However, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council confirmed that, despite Kiev’s designation of the fighting as a violation of the agreement, both sides would uphold the peace. According to the Wall Street Journal, the deal was largely based on talks which took place earlier last week between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The cease-fire came shortly after a sobering defeat for the Ukrainian forces, the result of what Western nations point to as a Russian troop surge into Ukraine to support pro-Russian rebels. In the wake of the agreement, citizens have begun cautiously venturing out of their basements and into the streets. However, many are prepared for conflict to erupt again. Some Western officials fear that the ceasefire is a chance for Russia to re-arm the separatists in Ukraine. Even as they lay down their arms, after months of conflict, many rebel fighters remain skeptical that the battles will stop here.