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Trump eases controls on armed drone exports

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Predator Drones (Shutterstock)

The Trump administration moved Friday to ease controls on exports of armed drones, saying that allies need US technology and that other countries outside of a non-proliferation pact were taking over the market.

The White House announced that President Donald Trump had approved a move to diverge partly from the 1987 Missile Technology Control Regime, in which 35 countries agreed to restrict the sales of unmanned weapons delivery systems.

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The MTCR was aimed at controlling the spread of missiles that could deliver large payload like nuclear weapons.

But it also covered armed drones, at the time not a major component of armed conflict as they are now.

The change ordered by Trump will reclassify armed drones from technology whose export is severely restricted to a category that can be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The drones in the category must have a maximum airspeed of less than 800 kilometers per hour, which will allow sales of the Reaper and Predator drones used by the US military, as well as others made by US defense manufacturers.

“The MTCR’s standards are more than three decades old,” the White House said in a statement.

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“Not only do these outdated standards give an unfair advantage to countries outside of the MTCR and hurt United States industry, they also hinder our deterrence capability abroad by handicapping our partners and allies with subpar technology.”

The White House statement said two years of talks had failed to reform the MTCR.

The move has worried arms control advocates who say the US sale of advanced drones to more countries could fuel the global arms race.

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“The Trump administration has once again weakened international export controls on the export of lethal drones,” said Senator Bob Menendez in a statement.

“This reckless decision makes it more likely that we will export some of our most deadly weaponry to human rights abusers across the world,” he said.

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Botticelli painting expected to sell for record $80 million

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A painting by Italian Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli could fetch over $80 million when it goes under the hammer in New York in January, Sotheby's said Thursday -- a record auction price for the artist.

"Young Man Holding a Roundel" has been billed by the auction house as one of the greatest paintings from the era still in private hands.

It is expected to smash the $10.4 million auction record set seven years ago for a painting by the Florence native.The subject of the enigmatic portrait is not known, but art historians believe it could be a depiction of a close friend of the Medici family, which ruled the Italian city during Botticelli's life.

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Trump apologist thinks president made ‘huge mistake’ by admitting he won’t peacefully give up power

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A conservative who usually defends President Donald Trump admitted to CNN on Thursday that the president made a "huge mistake" when he refused to commit to having a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the 2020 election.

During a panel discussion on the president's latest controversial remarks about the upcoming election, liberal guest Bakari Sellers argued that Americans should be "very terrified" about Trump implicitly encouraging violence in the event that he loses.

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2020 Election

‘Five-alarm fire’: MSNBC’s Morning Joe explains why Trump is rushing to smash democracy

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough sounded the alarm that President Donald Trump had no intention of giving up the White House.

The president has admitted that he wants to ram through a new Supreme Court justice to help decide the election in his favor, and the "Morning Joe" host was shocked -- yet not surprised -- that Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.

"Some remarkable things that, actually, could be both shocking and not surprising at the same time considering that they come from Donald Trump," Scarborough said.

"For the first time in the history of this republic, you have a president of the United States, who will not commit to a peaceful transfer of power," he added. "At the same time he's asking Republicans to lie to their constituents and go back on what they said four years ago and ram through a Supreme Court justice. Why? Because he needs that Supreme Court justice to vote for him on any election disputes that he stirs up. That is pretty much a five-alarm fire."

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