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U.S. drones kill 25 militants in Pakistan

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A volley of US missile strikes killed 25 militants after destroying their compounds in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas on the Afghan border, security officials said Tuesday.

Twin drone attacks hit militant strongholds in North and South Waziristan 12 hours apart, as the United States announced it was suspending more than a third of its annual military aid to Pakistan, bringing relations to a new low.

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Early Tuesday, a US drone fired two missiles at a compound in South Waziristan’s Bushnarai area, a senior security official told AFP.

Several missile strikes have recently targeted hideouts in the area, considered a stronghold of Pakistani Taliban commander Mullah Nazir, he said.

Late Monday, at least 12 militants were killed when US drones fired four missiles on a compound and a vehicle in the Gorwaik area of Datta Khel town, in North Waziristan. Reports of up to 16 militants killed could not be confirmed.

“In last night’s drone strike, at least 12 militants were killed and six others were wounded, and in today’s strike the death toll has risen to 13. Two were wounded,” a security official told AFP Tuesday.

Intelligence officials in Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan, said foreigners were among those killed in the second attack.

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Pakistani officials use the term “foreigners” for Al-Qaeda-linked Arab, Central Asians and other non-Pakistani fighters.

Washington has called Pakistan’s semi-autonomous northwest tribal region the most dangerous place on Earth and the global headquarters of Al-Qaeda.

The United States does not officially confirm Predator drone attacks, but its military and the CIA operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy the armed, unmanned aircraft in the region.

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But the covert missile programme is deeply unpopular in Pakistan, where anti-American sentiment and relations with the United States have nosedived since US troops killed Osama bin Laden in the town of Abbottabad on May 2.

Although Pakistani politicians united to demand an end to drone strikes after US Navy SEALs entered Pakistan, seemingly without knowledge of the government or military, to kill the Al-Qaeda leader, they have continued.

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A total of 21 US drone strikes have been reported in Pakistan’s tribal belt since May 6, killing around 130 militants, according to local officials.

White House chief of Staff William Daley confirmed in a television interview on Sunday that the United States had decided to withhold almost a third of its annual $2.7 billion security assistance to Islamabad.

The bin Laden raid humiliated the Pakistani military and invited allegations of incompetence and complicity, while Washington has increasingly demanded that Islamabad take decisive action against terror networks.

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Pakistan hit back by saying it was capable of fighting without US assistance, although analysts doubt the aid cuts will encourage commanders to open fresh fronts — as long demanded by the United States.

“The army in the past as well as at present has conducted successful military operations using its own resources without any external support whatsoever,” military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP.

In suspending aid, analysts said the United States is showing it will no longer give the benefit of the doubt to Pakistan’s military after a long debate on how to handle it and where its loyalties lie.

“This is a high-stakes gamble in a way — that somehow this is going to get the military to wake up to the fact that their long dependence on the United States, for equipment in particular, could end,” said Marvin Weinbaum, scholar-in-residence at the Middle East Institute.

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New York Times editorial board asks Trump if he didn’t do anything wrong — why he won’t let witnesses testify

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The New York Times editorial board issued a scathing op-ed Sunday detailing the ways in which President Donald Trump is destroying one of the key branches of the United States government.

While many presidents battle with Congress, Trump has taken his "obvious contempt" to a whole new level. But if he was truly innocent of the accusations he's facing, then why is he hiding so much.

"If Mr. Trump is so clear in his own mind that he didn’t try to pressure the Ukrainian government to interfere in the 2020 election, why won’t he send the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to testify under oath that there was no quid pro quo?" asked The Times. "Instead, he has issued a blanket refusal to allow officials of his administration to testify or submit documents demanded by Congress. His approach is pitting Republican House members’ fealty to him against their respect for their own institution. They are making a fateful choice to diminish the House."

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Trump busted for acting like the Saudi’s ‘press secretary’ after Florida naval yard shooting

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Conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot blasted President Donald Trump for essentially becoming a "press secretary" for the Saudi Arabian government in wake of the Pensacola, Florida mass shooting.

In his column Sunday, Boot noted that the typical mass shooting sentiments like "thoughts and prayers" were absent Friday when Trump discovered that the shooting was done by a Muslim.

"It turns out that Trump actually has a triple standard, because he treats attacks by Saudis differently than those from other Muslim nations," Boot observed. "On Friday, a Saudi air force officer studying at the Naval Air Station Pensacola shot dead three Americans and wounded eight others. Instead of expressing outrage or vowing vengeance, or even waiting for all the facts to come in, Trump sounded as if he were auditioning for the job of press secretary at the Saudi Embassy."

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McConnell blocked by his own party from calling impeachment witnesses Trump wants for Senate trial: report

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According to a report from the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is finding his hands tied by members of his own party who are skeptical over the appropriateness of calling some of the witnesses Donald Trump  -- and a few of his House Republican enablers  -- want to appear.

As the Times notes, "While Democrats who control the House are focused on a swift impeachment vote by year’s end, the White House is almost entirely consumed by the trial that would follow in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Mr. Trump’s team believes he would have the chance to defend himself and where Democrats would almost certainly fall short of the two-thirds vote they would need to remove him from office."

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