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Let’s Not Forget About Yemen

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Recent tensions between the United States and Iran have been dominating mainstream media headlines, leaving little or no room for coverage of the war in Yemen, or as the UN calls it “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

Since 2015, the U.S. has been backing its allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among others, in a brutal campaign against the Houthis of Yemen. The United Nations has called the conflict a “war on children” in a report they released earlier in the year. The report revealed if the war ends in 2019 it will account for 233,000 deaths, 60 percent of those deaths being children under five. The UN also estimates 13 million people are at risk of starvation in the country, with 80 percent relying on humanitarian aid.

The World Food Programme (WFP), announced last week it had started a partial suspension of aid in the capital Sanaa, citing failure to reach an agreement with the Houthis, who the WFP claim are diverting the food away from those who need it most.

The WFP wants to implement a biometric identification system to keep track of the aid, which would involve iris scanning, fingerprints or facial recognition. The Houthis believe the WFP controlling this biometric data is a violation of Yemen law. The suspension of aid will affect 850,000 people who rely on it in the capital.

Earlier this month, The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project(ACLED) released a report, finding over 91,000 fatalities as result of the war. The report does not take into account deaths attributed to malnutrition or preventable diseases such as cholera. The ACLED found nearly 4,500 events that directly targeted civilians, resulting in approximately 11,700 reported civilian fatalities. The Saudi-led coalition was found to be responsible for over 8,000 of the civilian deaths, the Houthis and their allies are responsible for over 1,900.

The Yemen Data Project has compiled an impressive spreadsheet of all Saudi-led coalition airstrikes since March 26th, 2015. One can comb through the over 19,000 airstrikes and see the coalition has hit hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, markets and water treatment plants.

A statement by Obama’s National Security Council spokesperson, Bernadette Meehan, from 2015 said, “President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC (Gulf cooperation council)-led military operations.”

Since President Obama pledged support to the Saudi-led coalition, the conflict went largely underreported and unnoticed by Americans. But then on in August of 2018, a U.S. made bomb struck a school bus in Yemen, killing 40 children, an atrocity so horrible it was impossible to ignore.

Shortly after the school bus bombing, in October of that year, Washington Post journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered inside of the Saudi consulate in Turkey. The tragic murder of Khashoggi gained far more media attention than thousands of dead Yemenis ever did, forcing U.S. politicians to reexamine their relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In a statement released by President Trump defending his relationship with the kingdom last November, he blamed Iran for the war in Yemen, like many who support the war do. But the Houthis have been fighting against the Saudi backed government since 2004, when they tried to arrest Hussein al-Houthi, the leader of the group at the time. The Houthis fought back against the government, sparking a series of wars between 2004 and 2010. Simply blaming Iran for the war ignores Yemen’s history.

Trump also revealed the real reason for supporting the Saudis in the war, “After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States.” Trump then names the real benefactors, “Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon.”

The Trump administration has been trying to blame Iran for the Houthi’s recent attacks on Saudi Arabia, recently targeting an oil pipeline, arms depot and an airport. Even if Iran is arming the Houthis, which there is no definitive proof of, these attacks are clearly blowback from an indiscriminant bombing campaign the Saudi’s have been waging for over four years now.

While we’re discussing blowback, it is important to remember this bombing campaign would not be possible without U.S. intelligence and weapons. In the eyes of the Yemeni civilians the U.S. is waging war on them. Reckless U.S. foreign policy has a way of creating more enemies, most notably the destabilization of Iraq, giving rise to ISIS.

The most infamous enemy of the United States, Osama bin Laden, turned his eye on the U.S. after the Soviet Union was driven out of Afghanistan. As made clear from his 1996 fatwa entitled, “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places,” bin Laden’s hatred for the Americans grew from U.S. troops being stationed in Saudi Arabia in the run up to Desert Storm, the brutal sanction and bombing campaign against Iraq throughout the 1990s and U.S. support for Israel.

What unintended consequences can we expect from our support for this horrible war on the poorest country in the Arab world? With the president outright admitting he is only in it for the money, the American people cannot claim ignorance on this one.

Trump had a chance to stop his part in the war, having recently vetoed a bipartisan bill to end our support to the Saudi-led coalition, which the senate failed to override. Now it’s time for the American people to step up and demand an end to this unholy war against children.

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World News

VIDEO: Black Lives Matter Protesters Vandalize Abraham Lincoln Statue

The vandals used spray paint to cover the statue with names of people killed while in police custody.

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Black Lives Matter protesters in London vandalized the statue of President Abraham Lincoln in Parliament Square on Saturday.

They also vandalized a statue of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

The vandals used spray paint to cover the statue with names of people killed while in police custody, including Freddie Gray, Breonna Taylor, Mike Brown and George Floyd. They also climbed all over it and surrounded the base with anti-police signs.

Lincoln was the commander-in-chief when the North defeated the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He famously declared all slaves shall be free during his Emancipation Proclamation address on Jan. 1, 1863.

“And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons,” Lincoln said.

The London “protesters” also vandalized a statue of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill earlier in the day, which happened to be the 76th anniversary of D-Day.

“Should I get all the football lads to guard it now, should I?” a man upset with the vandalism is heard asking police in footage posted to social media. “So, as you can see, Churchill has really been hit. We’ve got police here, and it’s been done. Pass the message on: Winston Churchill has been vandalized.”

There were approximately 15,000 people in attendance at the demonstration.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage has condemned the “protest.”

“This protest in London now has nothing to do with George Floyd,” Farage wrote on Twitter. “It is anarchy in the face of weak leadership.”

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Tech

German Official Invites Twitter to Move to Germany Following Trump’s Executive Order

Germany, of course, is not exactly known for their respect for free speech.

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A German official has invited Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to move his company there following President Donald Trump’s executive order aimed at protecting free speech on social media.

Germany, of course, is not exactly known for their respect for free speech, as they ban anything “capable of inciting popular hatred.” It actually sounds like a perfect match for a platform that arbitrarily bans accounts for edgy banter.

Thomas Jarzombek of Germany’s Economic Affairs Ministry tweeted on Thursday, “Hey @Twitter & @jack, this is an invitation to move to Germany! Here you are free to criticize the government as well as to fight fake news. We have a great startup and tech ecosystem, your company would be a perfect fit and I will open any doors for you!”

He also tagged President Trump in the tweet in an attempt to make sure that his dig would be noticed.

Earlier in the day, President Trump signed an executive order that aims to increase government regulation of the “new public square” by challenging their Section 230 protection from being held liable for content posted by users

Under Section 230, platforms that are not publishers cannot be held liable for most posts by users on their sites. By censoring certain opinions, the platform has crossed the line into acting as a publisher with an editorial line, which is not protected.

“Trump’s directive now could set the stage for federal regulators to write new rules and issue new punishments for companies deemed to exhibit political bias,” the Washington Post explained.

The order also established a council to probe allegations of censorship of users based on their political views and asked the Federal Trade Commission to probe whether or not content-moderation is falling in line with their pledges of neutrality to users.

“In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet.  This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic.  When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power.  They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators,” the order read.

“The growth of online platforms in recent years raises important questions about applying the ideals of the First Amendment to modern communications technology.  Today, many Americans follow the news, stay in touch with friends and family, and share their views on current events through social media and other online platforms.  As a result, these platforms function in many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square.”

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Election

Former Emory Professor Pleads Guilty to Hiding Role in Chinese Program Deemed a ‘Threat to National Security’

The program he was part of has been called a “threat to national security.”

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A former professor at Emory University has pleaded guilty to hiding his ties to a Chinese government program that has been deemed a threat to national security.

Xiao-Jiang Li, 63, was part of China’s “Thousand Talents Program.”

“This defendant thought that he could live two, separate lives — one here at Emory University and one in China as a Thousand Talents Program participant,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak in a statement.

The Thousand Talents program was established by the Chinese government in 2008 and has been called a “threat to national security” by the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. One member of the program stole proprietary defense information on U.S. military jet engines. In 2018, the National Intelligence Council declared that an underlying motivation of the program is “to facilitate the legal and illicit transfer of US technology, intellectual property and know-how” to China.”

“As this case demonstrates, the FBI is committed to working with our partners to prevent individuals from utilizing the Chinese Government’s talent plan programs to commit fraud against the United States government and our universities,” said Acting Assistant Director Robert R. Wells of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.

According to the statement from the Justice Department, in late 2011, while employed at Emory University, Li joined the Thousand Talents Program. The department explained that “starting in 2012 and continuing until 2018, Li, while still working at Emory University researching, among other things, the use of large animal models to investigate Huntington’s disease, also worked at two Chinese universities — first at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and then at Jinan University — conducting similar large animal model research. Over those six years, Li earned at least $500,000 in foreign income that he never reported on his federal income tax returns.”

“The Department of Justice remains vigilant over programs such as the Thousand Talents Program that recruits professors and researchers to work for China,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “In this case Li was caught in his lack of transparency.  We are grateful for the work our partners have done to bring light to this case.”

Li has been sentenced to one year of probation on a felony charge and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $35,089.  He has also been ordered to file lawful income tax returns for 2012 through 2018 within the first two months of his probation. Aditionally, Li must fully cooperate with the IRS.

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