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HeadlinesApril 24, 2018

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Yemen: U.S.-Backed, Saudi-Led Airstrike Kills At Least 20 at Wedding

Apr 24, 2018

In Yemen, a U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition airstrike tore through a wedding party late Sunday, killing at least 20 people. Most of the dead were reportedly women and children who were gathered in one of the wedding party tents. The bride was also among those killed. Medics and residents said more than 30 others were injured in the attack in the Bani Qais district in northern Yemen. At the scene of the bombing, one man lashed out at Saudi Arabia.

Unidentified man: “They always target weddings. They kill children and innocent people. But we can only complain to God, not to any human rights or any country in the world.”

More than 15,000 people have been killed since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015, backed with U.S. weapons, intelligence and munitions. Saudi-led airstrikes have devastated Yemen’s health, water and sanitation systems, sparking a massive cholera outbreak and pushing millions of Yemenis to the brink of starvation. We’ll have more on the latest attack and the crisis in Yemen after headlines.

Toronto Driver Plows into Pedestrians, Killing 10 and Injuring 15

Apr 24, 2018

In Toronto, Canada, a man driving a white van barreled at high speed through busy downtown streets Monday, swerving onto sidewalks and seeming to aim at pedestrians, leaving 10 people dead and 15 others injured. Police say the driver, 25-year-old Alek Minassian, was apprehended without a shot fired, after he told officers he was carrying a gun and then shouted, “Shoot me in the head!” Minassian left behind a path of injury and destruction nearly a mile long. Canada’s federal public safety minister said investigators were still searching for a motive but did not believe there was a “national security motive” behind the attack.

Suspected Gunman in Waffle House Massacre Arraigned on Murder Charges

Apr 24, 2018

In Tennessee, police have arrested the gunman believed to be responsible for Sunday morning’s mass shooting at a Nashville-area Waffle House, which left four people dead and four others wounded. Twenty-nine-year-old Travis Reinking was apprehended early Monday afternoon not far from his apartment complex. He was carrying a backpack containing a pistol and ammunition and was arraigned on four counts of murder. Last year, Reinking had his firearms license revoked by Illinois police at the FBI’s request, after a string of erratic behaviors—including trespassing at the White House. The guns were then turned over to his father, who allegedly returned them to his son—including the AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle used in Sunday’s attack.

Senate Committee Recommends Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State

Apr 24, 2018

On Capitol Hill, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unexpectedly Monday to recommend that Mike Pompeo be confirmed as secretary of state. The surprise outcome came as Kentucky Republican and committee member Rand Paul unexpectedly voted in favor of Pompeo, after repeatedly criticizing him over his support for torture and for the invasion of Iraq. Pompeo’s nomination had been widely expected to advance to the full Senate without a favorable recommendation from the Foreign Relations Committee. But his bid was aided after at least three Democrats—Senators Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly—said they’ll vote to confirm Pompeo. Pompeo also has a long history of ties to Islamophobic organizations, and the National Iranian American Council has warned that Pompeo’s confirmation would threaten the Iran nuclear deal and increase the risk of a U.S. attack on Iran

109 Retired Military Leaders Oppose Gina Haspel to Head CIA

Apr 24, 2018

Meanwhile, more than a hundred former top U.S. military officials have signed a letter to senators, asking them to oppose President Trump’s nomination of the Central Intelligence Agency’s deputy director to replace Mike Pompeo as CIA chief. The letter reads in part, “We are deeply troubled by the prospect of someone who appears to have been intimately involved in torture being elevated to one of the most important positions of leadership in the intelligence community.” According to The New York Times, Gina Haspel oversaw the waterboarding of prisoner Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at a secret CIA black site in Thailand in 2002. She also later advocated for destroying videotapes of another prisoner’s waterboarding.

Veterans Affairs Nomination in Doubt over Alleged “Improper Conduct”

Apr 24, 2018

Members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee are in talks to delay Wednesday’s planned confirmation hearings for Dr. Ronny Jackson to become veterans affairs secretary, amid reports of unspecified allegations of “improper conduct” during parts of his career. Jackson is currently serving as President Trump’s personal White House physician. He has no leadership experience heading a vast government bureaucracy like the VA.

Trumps Welcome French President Macron for Official State Visit

Apr 24, 2018

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron and French first lady Brigitte Macron to a formal state visit Monday, kicking off three days of events with a trip to George Washington’s former Virginia plantation home of Mount Vernon. Today Macron is expected to press Trump in face-to-face talks to keep the U.S. in the Iran nuclear deal. Tomorrow President Macron will address a joint session of Congress.

French Parliament Advances Immigration Bill Restricting Asylum Seekers

Apr 24, 2018

The state visit comes after France’s lower house of Parliament advanced an immigration bill introduced by Macron that would toughen France’s immigration and asylum laws. The bill would shorten deadlines for migrants to apply for asylum, while doubling the time that authorities can detain them, to 90 days. It would also allow for a 1-year prison term and fines for migrants found to have illegally crossed into France. Children could also be jailed with their families. The bill also continues a policy under which French citizens face fines and prison sentences for helping undocumented migrants—so-called crimes of solidarity. This is French parliamentarian Matthieu Orphelin.

Matthieu Orphelin: “I think it’s unbelievable that in 2018 a citizen who acts in solidarity with a migrant or asylum seeker, to help them during a health emergency, for example, can be convicted of that today in France. I think it’s completely anachronistic. And this crime of solidarity must be profoundly modified.”

Greece: Neo-Nazis Attack Peaceful Demonstration of Asylum Seekers

Apr 24, 2018

In Greece, a mob of far-right militants attacked a crowd of asylum seekers Sunday night who had gathered for a peaceful demonstration on the island of Lesbos, throwing stones, bottles and flares, and sending at least a dozen migrants to the hospital. The violence erupted after some 200 migrants gathered for a sit-in protest to call for improvements to squalid conditions in their refugee camps. They were attacked by members of the Mytilene Patriotic Movement, who chanted “Burn them alive” and “Throw them in the sea.” After anti-fascist activists intervened, fighting broke out for several hours before riot police used tear gas to clear the crowds. At least 100 people were arrested. Lesbos has been the arrival point for thousands of migrants who’ve made the perilous voyage across the Mediterranean from North Africa seeking asylum; it’s currently home to about 10,000 asylum seekers.

White House Defends Trump Tweet Condemned as Racist Toward Immigrants

Apr 24, 2018

The White House sought Monday to defend a presidential tweet that’s being blasted by immigrants’ rights groups as openly racist. The April 18 tweet was one of many recent attacks by President Trump on sanctuary cities that seek to protect undocumented immigrants. It read, “There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept.” This is White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders being questioned Monday by reporters Jim Acosta and April Ryan.

Jim Acosta: “When he used the word 'breeding,' was he making a derogatory term about Latinos in California, that they breed a lot or that they’re prone to breeding? Was he talking about”—

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “No, he’s talking about the problem itself growing and getting bigger.”

April Ryan: “What does 'breeding' mean to this president? Because when you think of breeding, you think of animals breeding, populating.”

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “I’m not going to begin to think what you think.”

April Ryan: “But can you tell us what the president thought?”

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “Certainly, I think that it can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. But the president is talking about a growing problem. And I addressed that with Jim. I don’t have anything else to add.”

Tucson, AZ: Murder Acquittal for Border Agent Who Shot Mexican Teen

Apr 24, 2018

In Tucson, Arizona, a federal jury has acquitted Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz on murder charges, nearly six years after he shot and killed a 16-year-old Mexican teenager. José Antonio Rodríguez was unarmed and walking along a sidewalk in Nogales, Sonora, when Swartz fired on him through the border wall from the U.S. side. An autopsy shows Rodríguez was shot 10 times—with two bullets in his head and eight in his back. Swartz was cleared Monday of second-degree murder, while the jury deadlocked on two lesser manslaughter charges; prosecutors said after the trial they were considering whether to bring a new manslaughter trial against Swartz. Following the verdict, scores of protesters marched from the courthouse and blocked busy intersections in downtown Tucson.

Armenia: Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan Resigns Amid Mass Protests

Apr 24, 2018

In Armenia, thousands of people flooded the streets of cities around the country Monday, after longtime leader Serzh Sargsyan resigned in the face of a popular uprising calling for an end to his rule. The celebrations capped nearly two weeks of anti-government protests that followed Sargsyan’s appointment to the newly powerful post of prime minister, after he held power as president for the maximum of two 5-year terms. Sargsyan came under added pressure to resign after members of Armenia’s military—in uniform—were seen joining recent protests. His resignation came as several opposition leaders were released after their arrests in recent days.

George H. W. Bush Hospitalized One Day After Barbara Bush’s Funeral

Apr 24, 2018

And George H. W. Bush has been hospitalized and is in a Houston intensive care unit with sepsis, after an infection spread into his bloodstream. A spokesperson for the 93-year-old former president said Bush is “responding to treatments and appears to be recovering.” Bush’s hospitalization came one day after he attended a funeral for his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush. Saturday’s funeral was also attended by other former presidents and first ladies: George W. and Laura Bush, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Barack and Michelle Obama. First lady Melania Trump also joined, but President Trump remained at his golf resort in Mar-a-Lago, where the White House says he watched the funeral on television.

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