Friday, July 2, 2021
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1/ The U.S. military vacated Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan after nearly 20 years. The base was the epicenter of the U.S. military’s counterterrorism campaign in Afghanistan, with fighter jets, drones, and cargo planes taking off from the twin runways day and night. The airfield was handed over to the Afghan National Security and Defense Force, effectively ending America’s longest foreign war. The U.S., however, will continue to pay nearly $4 billion annually until 2024 to finance the Afghan security forces. (Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post)
2/ Attorney General Merrick Garland suspended federal executions, saying he said serious concerns about the arbitrariness of capital punishment, its disparate impact on people of color, and “the troubling number of exonerations” in death penalty cases. Garland ordered a review of whether the drug approved for federal executions poses risks of pain and suffering, as well as the decision made late last year to allow other methods of execution besides lethal injection, including electrocution and firing squad. In 2019 – after 17 years without executions – then-Attorney General William Barr directed federal prison officials to begin executing 13 people on death row. (NBC News / Politico / Washington Post)
3/ Biden endorsed major changes to the military justice system that would remove investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases from the chain of command. The military justice system would instead hand sexual harassment and assault cases off to independent military lawyers. An independent review of how the military deals with sexual assault found that commanders need training in how to prevent what an official calls “daily acts of demeaning language and sexual harassment.” In a statement, Biden backed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s decision to work with Congress on overhauling the system, saying “sexual assault is an abuse of power and an affront to our shared humanity. And sexual assault in the military is doubly damaging because it also shreds the unity and cohesion that is essential to the functioning of the U.S. military and to our national defense. Yet for as long as we have abhorred this scourge, the statistics and the stories have grown worse.” Biden, however, stopped short of backing a congressional effort to strip commanders of oversight of all major crimes. (New York Times / NPR / USA Today / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
4/ The U.S. economy added 850,000 jobs in Jun...
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