The House of Representatives has approved a War Powers Resolution calling for an end to U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has killed thousands of civilians and sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Thursday’s 247-175 vote fell largely along party lines. This is California Democratic Congressmember Barbara Lee, who backed the resolution.
Rep. Barbara Lee: “We’ve helped create and worsen the world’s greatest, largest humanitarian crisis: 22.2 million Yemenis—that’s 75% of the population—needs humanitarian assistance. At least 85,000 children under the age of 5—85,000—have died from war-related hunger and disease.”
It’s the first time Congress has invoked the War Powers Act of 1973 to end a U.S. president’s unilateral decision to wage war abroad. The resolution passed the Senate last month after seven Republicans joined minority Democrats. This is the resolution’s co-sponsor, Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution is pretty clear. It is the United States Congress—not the president—who has responsibilities in terms of war making. But tragically, for many years, under Democratic presidents, under Republican presidents, the Congress has abdicated its responsibility. Today the Congress says, 'We are taking that responsibility back, not just for Yemen, but in the future, as well.'”
President Trump has signaled he will veto the resolution.
Ethiopia has released preliminary findings from its investigation into last month’s fatal crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which killed all 157 crew and passengers on board. Ethiopia’s transport minister said the pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet followed normal procedures but were unable to overcome a flaw in the plane’s software that automatically pushed the plane’s nose down. The report found similarities in the technical failures experienced by pilots of October’s Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610, which also crashed just minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 people on board. The Federal Aviation Administration has grounded all 737 MAX aircraft while Boeing works on fixes to the planes’ software.
On Thursday, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg released a video apology.
Dennis Muilenburg: “We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent 737 MAX accidents. … From the days immediately following the Lion Air accident, we’ve had teams of our top engineers and technical experts working tirelessly, in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration and our customers, to finalize and implement a software update that will ensure accidents like that of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 never happen again.”
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported Thursday that Boeing is working on an additional software fix for another problem, this time related to aircraft flaps and other flight control hardware. These issues are reportedly classified as critical to flight safety. We’ll have more on Boeing after headlines, when we’ll speak with renowned consumer rights activist Ralph Nader, whose grandniece Samya Stumo was killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
President Trump pulled back Thursday from his threat to immediately close the southern U.S. border, saying instead he’ll put tariffs on Mexico’s auto industry unless Mexican officials do more to stop the flow of migrants and drugs to the U.S. Trump said he was giving Mexico a “one-year warning” to comply with his demand.
President Donald Trump: “If the drugs don’t stop—Mexico can stop them if they want—we’re going to tariff the cars. The cars are very big. And if that doesn’t work, we’re going to close the border.”
The president backed away from a threat to close the U.S.’s southern border this week amid widespread warnings over severe economic consequences.
This week, Mexico’s interior secretary said her government would not militarize its border “under any circumstances” and would provide security to Central American migrants. But hundreds of migrants hoping to cross to the U.S. say they’ve been held up in southern Mexico near the Guatemalan border. This is 30-year-old Cuban migrant Dennis Hernandez.
Dennis Hernandez: “We are waiting for our humanitarian visas, but we have not received a response of why we are not being given these papers. We are organizing a peaceful hunger strike. We have been here for seven, eight days in peace. There has been no violence over here, and we are being ignored. Just silence, which is like torture. It’s like a psychological war. I feel it’s a topic of racism with migration. I feel they are trampling over our human rights.”
Meanwhile, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers raided a technology repair company in Allen, Texas, on Thursday, arresting 280 people in the largest immigration raid in the U.S. over the last decade. President Trump is traveling to Calexico, California, today to tour a recently rebuilt 30-foot-tall section of steel-slatted border wall.
The United Nations Security Council has called an emergency meeting on Libya, after a renegade army commander ordered his forces to advance on the capital Tripoli. The advance by the Benghazi-based Libyan National Army threatens to topple Libya’s U.N.-backed government. The rebel force is reportedly better armed and controls a town just 60 miles from the capital. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres appealed Thursday for a ceasefire.
Secretary-General António Guterres: “I want to make a very strong appeal, an appeal for all military movements to stop, an appeal for containment, calm, de-escalation, both military and political and verbal de-escalation.”
Libya has been plagued by factional fighting since a U.S.-led NATO intervention in 2011 toppled longtime authoritarian leader Muammar Gaddafi.
In Mozambique, the United Nations warns over 1.8 million people face an imminent food crisis, after Cyclone Idai devastated infrastructure, displaced more than 600,000 people and left nearly 600 dead. Meanwhile, Mozambique’s government said the number of cholera cases caused by contaminated food and water has topped 1,400.
President Trump said Thursday he plans to nominate former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain to serve on the board of the Federal Reserve. Trump called Cain an “outstanding person”—even though he dropped out of the 2012 race when three women accused him of sexual harassment, while a fourth woman said she and Cain had engaged in a lengthy extramarital affair. Herman Cain is a longtime critic of the Fed; he’s a proponent of regressive taxation who’s called for the U.S. to revert to the gold standard.
President Trump asked Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in February to speed the confirmation of his handpicked nominee for chief counsel of the IRS—placing a higher priority on filling the relatively obscure position than on the confirmation of William Barr as attorney general. That’s according to The New York Times, which reports Trump’s pick for the IRS’s top lawyer, Michael J. Desmond, previously served as a tax adviser to the Trump Organization. Trump’s push to prioritize Desmond’s confirmation came as Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, where they have the power to subpoena records and request documents. This week, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee formally requested that the IRS turn over six years of Trump’s personal tax returns to Congress—a request that will now be vetted by Michael Desmond.
In London, WikiLeaks founder and CEO Julian Assange is reportedly bracing to be expelled from the Ecuadorean Embassy, where he’s been holed up since 2012 to avoid arrest and possible extradition to the U.S., where he could face prosecution under the Espionage Act. This week, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno accused Assange of leaking private photos of his family and violating the terms of his asylum. But WikiLeaks says Moreno is upset because a WikiLeaks release known as the INA Papers exposed the president’s role in a growing corruption scandal. In a Thursday afternoon tweet, WikiLeaks wrote, “A high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told @WikiLeaks that Julian Assange will be expelled within 'hours to days' using the #INAPapers offshore scandal as a pretext—and that it already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest.”
In Northern Virginia, U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been released from solitary confinement after 28 days and moved into the general population of the Truesdale Detention Center. Manning has been imprisoned since March 8, after she refused to answer questions before a grand jury about her 2010 release to WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of State Department and Pentagon documents about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. district judge in Virginia overseeing the case said Manning would remain in jail until either she agrees to testify or the grand jury concludes its work. This week, Manning drew the support of freshman New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who tweeted, “Solitary confinement is torture. Chelsea is being tortured for whistleblowing, she should be released on bail, and we should ban extended solitary in the US.”
The Justice Department has blasted Alabama’s prison system as “broken,” saying prisoners are being held in unsafe, filthy and overcrowded conditions, while suffering from routine violence and rampant sexual assault. In a sweeping new report, Justice Department investigators found prison guards are woefully undertrained and understaffed, leading to frequent rapes, beatings and homicides that sometimes go unreported. The report comes just weeks after eight inmates at Alabama’s Holman prison ended a hunger strike against their solitary confinement after prison officials shut off water to their cells.
New Mexico’s governor has signed a measure decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana and the paraphernalia used to consume it. Previously, first-time marijuana users faced arrest and up to 15 days in jail; under the new law, those found with small amounts of the drug will face a “penalty assessment,” punishable by a $50 fine. A bill to legalize the recreational use of marijuana cleared New Mexico’s state House but has stalled in the Senate.
And in Baltimore, Maryland, students at Johns Hopkins have launched a sit-in occupation of their campus administration building, protesting their university’s plans for an armed police force on campus, as well as Johns Hopkins’s contracts with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Students are demanding the cancellation of contracts with ICE and a pledge to donate all moneys received from ICE to Baltimore’s immigration defense fund. They’re also demanding voluntary recognition for all workers wishing to unionize and a student and faculty representative spot on the university’s board of trustees.