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Outrage after Trump uses loophole to send US bombs to Saudis: ‘This isn’t how democracy works’

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Critics of the U.S.-supported bombing of Yemen rebuked the Trump administration on Saturday after it ducked congressional approval by invoking emergency powers to approve billions of dollars in American-made arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“Selling more weapons to Saudi Arabia doesn’t make America safer or align with our country’s values,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a tweet. “It only benefits defense contractors and @realDonaldTrump’s alarming desire to sow chaos abroad.”

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Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced on Friday the administration’s plans to utilize the emergency provision to bypass the 30-day congressional notification period for arms sales. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later confirmed the plan.

Pompeo’s statement on Friday said, in part,

Today, I made a determination pursuant to section 36 of the Arms Export Control Act and directed the Department to complete immediately the formal notification of 22 pending arms transfers to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia totaling approximately $8.1 billion to deter Iranian aggression and build partner self-defense capacity. These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability, and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Delaying this shipment could cause degraded systems and a lack of necessary parts and maintenance that could create severe airworthiness and interoperability concerns for our key partners, during a time of increasing regional volatility… The equipment notified today includes aircraft support maintenance; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); munitions; and other supplies.

The development left Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a vocal critic of the war on Yemen, bristling.

Other anti-war voices pushed back against the administration’s narrative of “Iranian aggression.”

With those perhaps most affected by the arms sale—Yemeni civilians—voiceless in the decision, Amnesty International USA and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) highlighted the devastation wrought by American weaponry.

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“The Trump administration must stop supplying arms to the Saudi-led coalition, which has repeatedly committed horrific violations in Yemen, some amounting to war crimes, devastating the lives of thousands,” said Philippe Nassif, advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA.

“We know arms manufactured in the United States have been used in deadly strikes against civilians,” he added. “U.S. munitions have been found in the remains of bombed homes, hospitals, and hotels throughout Yemen’s devastating war, killing almost 7,000 people.”

The news of the arms sale follows Trump announcing the deployment of 900 new troops and the extended deployment of 600 more in the Middle East to counter supposed Iranian threats—a move Pompeo’s Iranian counterpart sharply criticized.

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Speaking to state news agency IRNA, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif said Saturday, “The Americans have made such allegations to justify their hostile policies and to raise tensions in the Persian Gulf.”

“Increased U.S. presence in our region is extremely dangerous,” he said, “and it threatens international peace and security, and this should be addressed.”


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Millions around the world joined #ClimateStrike — demanding bold climate action

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Masses of children skipped school Friday to join a global strike against climate change that teen activist Greta Thunberg said was "only the beginning" in the fight against environmental disaster.

Some four million people filled city streets around the world, organizers said, in what was billed as the biggest ever protest against the threat posed to the planet by rising temperatures.

Youngsters and adults alike chanted slogans and waved placards in demonstrations that started in Asia and the Pacific, spread across Africa, Europe and Latin America, before culminating in the United States where Thunberg rallied.

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Trump announces new sanctions on Iran — and deploys US troops to the Middle East

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The United States announced Friday that it was sending military reinforcements to the Gulf region following attacks on Saudi oil facilities that it attributes to Iran, just hours after President Donald Trump ordered new sanctions on Tehran.

Trump said the sanctions were the toughest-ever against another country, but indicated he did not plan a military strike, calling restraint a sign of strength.

The Treasury Department renewed action against Iran's central bank after US officials said Tehran carried out weekend attacks on rival Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure, which triggered a spike in global crude prices.

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‘Do a lot of stupid sh*t as quickly as possible’: Ambassador Power breaks down ’The Trump Doctrine’

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The former ambassador to the United Nations explained "The Trump Doctrine" during a Friday evening interview with comedian Bill Maher on HBO's "Real Time."

Samantha Power, the author of the new book, The Education of an Idealist, was asked by Maher about the foreign policy mantra of the Obama administration.

"Obama's foreign policy doctrine was famously summarized as 'don't do stupid sh*t," Maher noted. "Trump's, of course, is 'Do stupid sh*t.'"

"Do stupid sh*t as quickly as possible," Power clarified.

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