Headlines: May 14, 2019
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Saudi Arabia is claiming that an oil pipeline had been attacked by a drone causing “limited damage.” The claim was made just a day after the Gulf Arab kingdom and US ally said two oil tankers had been sabotaged. A news source from Yemen said that the Yemeni Army and Popular Committees which represent Houthi rebels in Yemen used 7 drones to damage Saudi facilities. Saudi Arabia has been fighting a brutal war in Yemen with US military support and US-supplied weaponry. Iran has emerged as a target for both Saudi Arabia and the US as Iranian forces have supported Houthi rebels inside Yemen. On Monday the New York Times reported that the White House has been reviewing military plans against Iran. According to sources, “Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons.” President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has made it his mission to spark a war against Iran, ordered the updated plan. When asked about potential war with Iran Trump told reporters, “We’ll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake.” The review of military plans is reminiscent of preparations made ahead of the 2003 Iraq war. Meanwhile, a British officer stationed in Iraq, who is part of the coalition forces there told reporters during a video news conference at the Pentagon that, “No, there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. Pompeo announced last week that he would be traveling to Russia but then canceled his trip announcing instead that he would be going to Brussels to attend a gathering of European leaders discussing the Iran nuclear deal even though he was not invited. On Tuesday it appeared that Secretary Pompeo changed his mind once again reinstating his Russia trip after meeting with the Europeans. Among the issues Pompeo wants to discuss with Putin are Iran and Venezuela – both nations where the US and Russia are on opposite sides of one another.
The US has announced yet another round of tariffs on Chinese goods in the latest escalation of the US-China trade war. The US Trade Representative’s office on Tuesday listed an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese imports for a tax hike. The list covers nearly all products from China that have not already been taxed with the exception of pharmaceutical products and minerals used in electronic hardware. China vowed to fight back with foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang saying, “China will fight to the finish…We have the determination and capacity to safeguard our interests.” Meanwhile American soybean producers say they are deeply hurting from the US tariffs on China. Trump said the White House is considering a $15 billion bailout of agribusinesses in response. He has downplayed the impacts of the trade war saying this to reporters.
The Washington Post on Tuesday revealed that the internal wrangling at the Department of Homeland Security that led to last month’s purge of top department officials centered around a battle over Trump’s desire to arrest whole families at the border. Seven current and former officials at Homeland Security revealed to the Post that the firings and resignations of Ron Vitiello and Kristjen Nielsen happened over a, “sprawling operation [that] included an effort to fast-track immigration court cases, allowing the government to obtain deportation orders against those who did not show for their hearings — officials said 90 percent of those targeted were found deportable in their absence. The subsequent arrests would have required coordinated raids against parents with children in their homes and neighborhoods.” Trump’s chief anti-immigrant adviser Stephen Miller was reportedly, “eager to execute dramatic, highly visible mass arrests,” in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other popular immigrant destinations.
In other news Attorney General William Barr on Monday tapped John H. Durham, a federal prosecutor in Connecticut for the job of inquiring who started the Special Counsel’s probe on 2016 election wrongdoing. According to the New York Times, “His inquiry is the third known investigation focused on the opening of an F.B.I. counterintelligence investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign into possible ties between Russia’s election interference and Trump associates.” And a federal judge in Washington is hearing arguments in the case brought by Trump to stop his former accounting firm from respecting a Congressional subpoena of his business and personal financial data. And, newly resigned Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave a commencement speech on Monday to law students during which he quoted Special Counsel Robert Mueller. During the speech Rosenstein also referred to former FBI Director James Comey as a, “partisan pundit.” Critics have slammed Rosenstein for enabling Trump and Barr.
North Carolinians are voting on Tuesday in a do-over primary election whose results were overturned earlier this year after a Republican-led voting fraud operation was discovered. Democrat Dan McCready who ran the first time and lost by less than 1,000 votes is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination, while Republican Mark Harris who was at the center of the vote tampering is not running.
A jury in California has awarded a couple a record-breaking $2 billion settlement in a case against the notorious producer of weed killers, Monsanto. The verdict in Oakland includes $55 million in compensatory damages and $2 billion in punitive damages. It is the latest of three major settlements against Monsanto and thousands more cases by people who say the weed killers caused their cancers, are still pending.
A police officer in Texas fatally shot a woman who said she was pregnant. The officer claimed that the woman, who has yet to be named, grabbed his taser and used it on him. He shot her in response as she shouted, “I’m pregnant.” A bystander apparently shot a video of the shooting and is circulating it on social media. The incident is still being investigated.
And finally Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke at a rally on Monday for the Sunrise movement. Both politicians slammed the type of middle-ground solutions for climate change that Presidential contender Joe Biden has suggested.