Justice department to release critical report of Ferguson police
The Department of Justice is scheduled to release a report today condemning the Ferguson police for disproportionately arresting African-Americans and relying on the revenue from fines to balance its budget. Ferguson citizens who cannot afford to pay their trafficking tickets often build up late fees which can take years to clear up. Federal investigators say that the fines have become the city’s second-largest source of revenue after sales tax and have provided an incentive to continue law enforcement policies that unfairly target African-Americans. Investigators also found that Ferguson police used excessive force against black citizens. Once the report becomes public, Ferguson will have two choices — either negotiate a settlement or be sued by the Department of Justice on civil rights charges. Either would lead to major changes in the city’s police department. Six months ago, Ferguson erupted in protests when white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown. Ever since, it has become a locus of national criticism of policing practices.
House Republicans concede, allow DHS funding bill to pass
Yesterday, Congress passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security until September, bringing an end to a weeks-long stagnation during which the DHS funding bill was pulled into the battle over Obama’s controversial executive actions on immigration. Up until yesterday, many of the Republican rank and file were refusing to pass the bill unless it included a measure to reverse the immigration actions, which would protect up to 4.7 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The executive actions were supposed to take effect last week, but met resistance in both the courts and Congress, leading to their delay. The standoff in Congress over the DHS funding bill threatened to partially shut down the department unless an agreement was reached. The bill was passed without a measure related to the immigration actions. Republicans say Obama overstepped his constitutional authority in bypassing Congress to push through immigration legislation.
Prominent Russian opposition leader assassinated
Boris Y. Nemtsov, a prominent Russian opposition leader and former first deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, was shot dead near Red Square in Moscow on Friday. Nemtsov was a staunch advocate of democratic reform and a vocal critic of Vladimir Putin’s administration. He was killed just days before he was supposed to lead a rally protesting Russia’s actions in Ukraine. His death was the highest profile political assassination since Putin came to power, raising fears that Russia is headed toward a revival of lethal violence amongst the nation’s top leadership. Such contract street killings were common in the 1990s, but dwindled under Putin. Still, a number of Putin’s opponents have been killed over the last decade, including a journalist, a human rights researcher and a security service defector. It is still not clear who is responsible for the death of Nemtsov. Some accuse the state security services, while others believe it was the work of rogue Russian nationalists.
Israeli Prime Minister says nuclear talks “pave Iran’s path to the bomb”
As Secretary of State John Kerry furiously negotiated a nuclear deal with Iran across the Atlantic, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington D.C., denouncing those very same talks in an address to Congress on Tuesday. Netanyahu warned that Iran is playing a game of “hide and cheat” with nuclear inspectors and that no deal should be made until Iran stops its aggression toward its neighbors, including Israel, and stops supporting terrorism. Disagreements between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have emerged as what the New York Times called “the biggest policy schism between the two countries in years.” While Netanyahu has urged increasing sanctions on Iran before the discussions are complete, the Obama administration remains committed to a diplomatic solution. Officials worried that Netanyahu’s address might sour the talks with Iran before they’re complete and many Democrats boycotted Netanyahu’s address, saying it merely served to politicize the issue just before the Israeli national election.