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The latest Iran-Saudi flare-up exposes Trump's bankrupt Middle East policy Vazquez told police of attempted sex with minor

The latest Iran-Saudi flare-up exposes Trump's bankrupt Middle East policyEnd support for the war in Yemen, change the relationship with Saudi Arabia, and talk to Iran – the answers for the US are clear ‘While there is growing support to completely change America’s Middle East policy US policy remains stuck in a rut.’ Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/ReutersThe fact that the United States is up in arms over an attack with no reported casualties on an oil refinery in Saudi Arabia – while at the same time supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen that has killed tens of thousands – tells us everything we need to know about how messed up US priorities in the Middle East are.If anything, the latest round of tensions between the US, Iran and Saudi Arabia – and the debate over whether or not to retaliate militarily against Iran – illustrates the many ways US policy in the region is bankrupt, and how Trump crafts US policy based on the interests of other countries, not America.The years-long struggle for regional influence between Iran and Saudi Arabia and their partners plays out in proxy wars that rip the region apart, such as the current humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. The US has taken Saudi Arabia’s side in this regional conflict, in which there is no “good side”, and in the process only exacerbated the tensions and violence.Iran is a bad actor, and the United States already takes serious steps to curb its support for terrorism, and to defend Israel. But Trump is making the threat worse by ending the Iran nuclear deal and provoking Iran. We now find ourselves in yet another edition of Trump’s deadly reality show: will he or won’t he strike?! Will he or won’t he risk the lives of American soldiers in an unnecessary war?! Or will he try to manufacture another photo-op summit that does nothing but mask the real problems?! Tune into Twitter to find out! Like everything he touches, Trump has turned America’s Iran policy into a farce, while increasing the likelihood of tragedy.Saudi Arabia, America’s longtime supposed partner, is also a bad actor. For too long America has stomached Saudi Arabia’s support for extremist ideologies, destabilizing policies, and repression at home. But Trump takes it to an extreme by seemingly outsourcing US policy to Riyadh. After the recent attacks, Trump literally said: “We are waiting to hear from the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed.”Jared Kushner must have done a facepalm – it’s supposed to be secret when Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, sends his orders over WhatsApp! Trump summed up why he always sides with Riyadh, even after the Saudi leader ordered the murder of the US journalist Jamal Khashoggi: “Saudi Arabia pays cash.”One of the most devastating results of US policy has been the humanitarian disaster in Yemen. Because Saudi Arabia entered the war on one side, while Iran supports the other, the United States has blindly followed Saudi Arabia in fueling this conflict that is starving children and killing innocent civilians. The conflict has taken the lives of at least tens of thousands of people, and a United Nations panel recently said that all sides might be committing war crimes.Israel – and Trump’s relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu – is at the center of this as well. Israel is a close and important ally, but Trump and Netanyahu have personalized, politicized and radicalized the US-Israeli relationship. While Trump attempts to use the relationship as a political wedge by falsely painting his opponents as enemies of Israel, Netanyahu pushes for conflict with Iran and takes steps that make peace with Palestinians all but impossible – steps that Trump openly supports. The two feed off each other and support one another’s agendas, which are bad for the relationship and bad for the region.Since the end of the cold war, US policy in the region has been driven by numerous considerations: countering Iran, fighting terrorism, supporting stability, protecting oil markets and defending Israel. While aspects of these policies were faulty long before this administration, today things are very different. Fossil fuels are destroying life in earth. Actions taken in the name of countering Iran often feed instability. Trump has warped our partnership with Israel into blind support for a self-destructive Israeli government.In partnering with autocrats to fight terrorism the United States has sacrificed other priorities. The Arab spring, the war in Syria, and myriad other calamities have illustrated how tyranny in the region is undermining – not supporting – stability. And now, ties between Saudi officials and businesses and the Trump family raise serious questions about whether Trump’s Middle East policies are being driven in part by efforts to line his own pockets.Whatever happens in response to this latest flare-up, the answers for the United States are clear: end support for the war in Yemen. Fundamentally change the relationship with Saudi Arabia. Talk to Iran about the entire range of concerns. Bring the sparring sides together to reduce regional tensions. Stop giving Netanyahu a blank check and return support for Israel to the principles of supporting democracy and a two-state solution. And stop supporting autocrats and start supporting the people.While there is growing support to completely change America’s Middle East policy – evidenced by the bills ending US support for the Yemen war that passed Congress – US policy remains stuck in a rut: Trump vetoed these congressional attempts to end support for the Yemen war and every time tensions spike, too many voices on both sides of the aisle respond with the kneejerk reaction of considering military action against Iran.If America is going to make big changes to shore up the capacity of US leadership to tackle the biggest challenges it faces, one of the first orders of business will be to fix America’s bankrupt Middle East policy. Now would be a good time to start. * Michael H Fuchs is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and a former deputy assistant secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs

According to a criminal complaint released by Pennsylvania State Police, Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez admitted that he tried to have sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Sheriff indicted for plotting to kill deputy who had tape of his 'racially offensive' remarks Free Taco: Cowboys cut former first-rounder

Sheriff indicted for plotting to kill deputy who had tape of his 'racially offensive' remarksA North Carolina sheriff was indicted for obstruction of justice for allegedly plotting to kill one of his deputies.

Defensive end Taco Charlton, one of the rare first-round draft busts by the Cowboys over the past decade, has been cut by the team after making just 46 total tackles and four sacks in 27 games.
UPDATE 1-Russia detains two N.Korean vessels after one opens fire - reports Allegheny DA won't prosecute AB due to statute

UPDATE 1-Russia detains two N.Korean vessels after one opens fire - reportsRussian border guards have detained two North Korean boats in Russian territorial waters in the Sea of Japan after one of them attacked a Russian patrol, local media cited the Federal Security Service (FSB) as saying on Tuesday. A Russian border patrol discovered two North Korean schooners and 11 motorboats fishing illegally off its far eastern coast and detained the first vessel, prompting the second one to open fire, the FSB was quoted as saying. Three Russian border guards were wounded in the incident.

Antonio Brown will not be prosecuted by Pittsburgh-area law enforcement for a June 2017 sexual assault allegation due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.
A 22-year-old from Minneapolis who is jailed in Syria says ISIS recruited him on Twitter Jets DBs Adams, Johnson upset with benching

A 22-year-old from Minneapolis who is jailed in Syria says ISIS recruited him on TwitterAbdelhamid Al-Madioum, a naturalized US citizen, told CBS News his story from a prison in Syria, run by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Jets coach Adam Gase said he pulled Jamal Adams from Monday's game to "calm him down." Addressing Trumaine Johnson's situation, he said "it hasn't worked out as well as we need it to."
White House, DOJ Reps Meet with Top Republicans on Expanding Background Checks for Gun Sales Bama DL Ray out at least 6 weeks after surgery

White House, DOJ Reps Meet with Top Republicans on Expanding Background Checks for Gun SalesRepresentatives from the White House and the Department of Justice met Tuesday with senior Republicans to discuss expanding background checks for the sale of firearms within the parameters of legislation first introduced by Senators Joe Manchin (D., W.V.) and Pat Toomey (R., Pa.).The relevant legislation seeks to expand background-check requirements to include "all advertised commercial sales, including sales at gun shows,” according to an idea sheet first obtained by The Daily Caller.Such background checks would be conducted “either through an FFL [Federal Firearm Licensee] or through a newly-created class of licensed transfer agents.”White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said that President Trump did not necessarily approve of the plan, despite the fact that White House Director of Legislative Affairs Eric Ueland is among those circulating the idea sheet.The Tuesday meetings were attended by Ueland as well as Attorney General Bill Barr. Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina were also present. There was a planned meeting between Barr and Utah senator Mike Lee, but Barr canceled the meeting.The Manchin-Toomey bill failed to pass last April after it didn't muster enough votes to survive a filibuster. The bill has remained a moderate alternative to more sweeping legislation that would mandate background checks on any and all gun sales. It would require background checks for any commercial sales at gun shows as well as over the Internet. It also expressly prohibits the formation of a national gun registry.

Alabama will be without defensive lineman LaBryan Ray for at least six weeks while he recovers from foot surgery. Freshman DL Antonio Alfano also is out, with Nick Saban saying he "basically quit" the team.

 Anchorage Local News   

Anchorage Views and Opinions
The Importance of Free Press in a Democracy

Before we can understand the importance of a free press in a democracy, we need to grasp what it means to have a free press. The Cambridge Dictionary tells us that a free press allows all media outlets to express whatever opinions they desire. That means, it says, that they are enabled to “criticize the government and other organizations.” So why would that be relevant in a democracy?

Unfair Questions or Democracy At Work ?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” -- The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

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Capitalism and The Wealth Gap

When it comes to the efficient delivery of goods and services, capitalism is the proven economic model that puts people to work and products on the shelves. Whether those jobs end up paying enough money to purchase the items on those shelves is another matter, however.

Living Wages Are A Global Problem

The recent protests for an increased minimum wage are part of a larger global protest. The purpose is the same for low wage earners all over the world; increase wages to match the cost of living, and allow workers to form unions if desired and needed. The global protest has gained media attention all over the world, but critics claim that is the only accomplishment the movement will have.

Ukraine: Not What It Seems

After tense days of fighting this week, people in Ukraine are mourning the dead and celebrating the removal of President Victor Yanukovych from power. The final struggle that began on February 18, was the bloodiest endured by the protesters of Euromaidan. By February 22 the fighting was over.

Religious Freedom Bill - Protecting The Faithful or Legalized Discrimination?

After a much heated national debate, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the controversial bill that would have allowed people and businesses in the state to refuse services to LBGT people based on their religious belief.

Coup Or Civil War In Egypt

The day after new protests erupted in Egypt the military in a show of support presented an ultimatum to Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood-led government. Morsi was to step down from power and meet all of the demands of the Egyptian people, or face being removed by the military on Wednesday. As the ultimatum deadline draws closer in Egypt, Morsi refuses to leave, insisting that parliamentary elections are needed before he should be removed, and that he doesn't have permission from the United States to remove himself from power. Most recently he stated he will pay with his life to preserve the sanctity of the ballot box.


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