News in Brief: Administration May Bypass Congress on Immigration Reform, and More …

The Obama administration is considering ways to act on immigration reform without Congressional approval, reported ProPublica, including giving green cards or permanent residence status to many people living in the country with documents. Accord to a memo to Alejandro N. Mayorkas, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS), detailing a plan to grant residency status to tens of thousands of people and delay the deportation of others. “In the absence of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, CIS can extend benefits and/or protections to many individuals and groups by issuing new guidance and regulations,” said the memo. The document was leaked by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), seeking assurance from President Obama that this sort of reprieve was not in the works.

Worldwide Protests Greet Arizona Law

Protesters gather in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Milwaukee, Louisville, Tucson, Ecuador, Spain and Mexico to make their voices heard against Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB1070 law as it took effect Thursday. In Arizona, at least 50 people were arrested during protests, along with at least one lawyer from the Center for Constitutional Rights who was taken into custody while writing down the names of individuals being arrested. Though a federal judge blocked four key parts of the legislation, immigrant rights activists argue that many immigrants will still be forced to live in a climate of fear, reported Democracy Now!. Not all reactions to the ruling were peaceful – Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona) was forced to shut down his district office after a bullet shattered a window, and US Judge Susan Bolton received hundreds of threats at her court offices following her ruling to throw out portions of the law.

July Bloodiest Month in Afghanistan; Floods in Pakistan Leave Hundreds Dead

The death of three more US troops in Afghanistan has made July the deadliest month in the nine-year-war, bringing the death toll to at least 66. The three individuals died in blasts, reported The Associated Press. Previously, June had been the deadliest month for the US, with 60 troops dead.

The death toll in three days of flooding in Pakistan has reached 430, as the rising toll from monsoon rains put the poor infrastructure in Pakistan to the test. Underequipped rescue workers, remote villages and an unclear weather forecast all hampered relief efforts, reported The Guardian UK.

Rangel Charged With 13 Ethics Violations

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-New York) has been charged with 13 separate ethics violations by the House Ethics Committee, reported The New York Times, including soliciting donations from people with business before his committee, not paying taxes on a home in the Caribbean, using a rent-stabilized apartment in New York as a campaign office and not sufficiently disclosing more than $600,000 in income and assets. The rare public trial, scheduled for this fall, could be a potential embarrassment for Democratic leadership during the fall election season.

UN Rights Body Tells Israel to Lift Gaza Blockade

Israel must lift its military blockade of Gaza, a United Nations rights body said Friday, and allow an independent, fact-finding mission to investigate its raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla. The committee said Israel must ensure that Palestinians in the occupied territories can enjoy fundamental civil and political freedoms, which Israel had promised to protect in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, reported Reuters. Israel has maintained that the Covenant, the main international human rights treaty, does not apply to the occupied West Bank and Gaza, though it has said the treaty applies to Jewish settlers there.

Obama Signs Into Law War Funding Bill, Moves to Increase Arms Exports

President Barack Obama signed a war funding bill providing $37 billion more for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, reported Democracy Now!, without any customary public remarks. This brings the total amount of money Congress has allotted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to $1 trillion.

Meanwhile, McClatchy Newspapers has reported that the Obama administration is modifying export control regulations to increase the US share of the global arms sales market. The United States currently supplies about 30 percent of the world’s arms market, and Obama is asking Congress to streamline the bureaucratic process for approving arms sales by setting up a new agency to oversee weapons exporting. Critics fear this could fuel regional arms races.

Justice Department Explores Espionage Charges Against WikiLeaks

Justice Department lawyers are exploring whether WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange can be charged with violations of the Espionage Act of 1917, reported The New York Times. The whistleblowing web site WikiLeaks published classified Afghan war documents to widely varying responses, from calls to criminally persecute the site, strong support and skeptics who say the leaked documents were not as important as they were made to seem.