US Senate bill targets Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi's murder, Yemen

Bipartisan move follows decision to place sanctions on 17 Saudi nationals involved in killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi.

    A bipartisan group of US senators introduced legislation on Thursday seeking to strike back at Saudi Arabia over the death of a Saudi journalist at a consulate in Turkey and for its role in the devastating war in Yemen. 

    If the bill were to become law, it would suspend weapon sales to Saudi Arabia and prohibit US refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft for Riyadh’s campaign in Yemen against the Houthi rebels. 

    It also would impose sanctions on anyone blocking humanitarian access in Yemen and anyone supporting the Houthis in Yemen.

    The Senate proposal comes a day after House Republicans moved to block a bill aimed at ending US support for the Saudi involvement in Yemen. 

    Sponsored by three Republican and three Democratic senators, the Senate legislation, reflects growing dissatisfaction in the upper house of Congress over the Yemen war, which has killed more than 10,000 people and created major humanitarian crisis.

    That frustration was exacerbated by the killing of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate.

    Khashoggi disappeared in Istanbul on October 2 while trying to secure paperwork for his upcoming marriage. Less than a week later, Turkish authorities revealed that they had recorded evidence that a Saudi hit squad had killed the journalist and dismembered his body before disposing of his remains.

    Saudi Arabia initially rejected the explanation, but as Turkish authorities continued to leak evidence of high level involvement, Riyadh eventually accepted its agents had played a role in the killing with a series of contradictory explanations.

    Turkey insists that Riyadh still has not come clean about the killing, but has so far stopped short of directly pointing the finger at Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.


    Earlier on Thursday, US politicians welcomed sanctions against 17 Saudi men involved in his killing, but many also said the punitive measures did not go far enough.  

    Republican Senator Bob Corker called the sanctions a “significant step”, but added that he hopes additional action will be taken. 

    “I have a lot of concerns about the trajectory that Saudi Arabia is on right now, and I think a price needs to be paid,” the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement. 

    Corker said he has requested a meeting with Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA Director Gina Haspel “to share with us [the Senate] exactly what is happening with the US response to Saudi Arabia”.

    Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senator Foreign Relations Committee and one of the Senators who authored Thursday’s bill, said the sanctions were a “good first step”, but with the Saudi announcement about the death sentences, the US move “looks like a coordinated attempt to sweep this case under the rug.”

    Ben Cardin, top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

    Others took their calls a step further, demanding the US to take action against the Saudi crown prince himself. 

    Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, who represents Virginia, where Khashoggi lived, said the sanctions were “insufficient” and suggested the administration of US President Donald Trump is “following the Saudi playbook”. 

    “This was state-sponsored murder. We need accountability,” Kaine tweeted. 

    Democratic Senator Ben Cardin said he remains “concerned that the [Trump] administration is enabling the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in its effort to protect Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from accountability”. 

    He added, “It is difficult for any reasonable person with knowledge of Saudi Arabia’s government to believe such high-level officials would conduct a plot of this significance without the direction of the Crown Prince.” 

    Saudi officials maintain bin Salman had nothing to do with Khashoggi’s death. 

    ‘Involved in abhorrent killing’

    The US sanctions on the 17 Saudi nationals were issued under the Global Magnitsky Act, which was triggered last month by a bipartisan group of Senators. The measures on Thursday targeted Saud al-Qahtani, one of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s top advisors, who is believed to have managed the operation to kill the Saudi writer.  

    Others targeted included Maher Mutreb, another aide to the prince, who was pictured at Saudi consulate in Istanbul on the day of the slaying.

    “The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

    “These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions,” he added. 

    The sanctions block the individuals’ assets in the US and generally prohibit US persons from engaging in transactions with those sanctioned. 

    The State Department called the sanctions “an important step in responding to Khashoggi’s killing”.

    Separately on Thursday, authorities in Saudi Arabia said they will seek the death penalty for five individuals accused of carrying out Khashoggi’s murder. The authorities said 21 people were in custody over the killing, with 11 indicted and referred to trial. Al-Qahtani, has been banned from travelling and remained under investigation, Saudi officials said. Turkey dismissed the latest account by the kingdom as “inadequate”.

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    California wildfires: 'If this town recovers, it will take years'

    Statewide death toll hits 59, with hundreds more unaccounted for as search continues for remains.

      Cool weather helped fire crews gain ground against the nation’s deadliest wildfire in a century on Thursday, as the search went on for more bodies.

      At least 56 people were killed in the Northern fire and 300 were unaccounted for a week after the flames swept through Butte County. At least three people were also killed in a fire in the southern part of the state. 

      The nearly 570 square kilometre blaze in Northern California was 40 percent contained, the state fire agency said, and firefighters succeeded in slowing the flames’ advance towards populated areas.

      More than 450 searchers were assigned to look for remains in Paradise, which was all but destroyed on November, and in outlying areas such as Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000. Many of the missing were elderly and from Magalia.

      “If this town does recover, it’s going to take many, many years,” said Johnny Pohmagevich, an 18-year Magalia resident who lives up the road from many burned homes.

      Police drove around town, searching for those still in their homes and checking if they needed food and water.

      Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Wednesday night that 130 people were missing. His office later released a list of 300 people who were unaccounted for, though spokeswoman Miranda Bowersox said some of those may simply not have checked in with officials or family.

      At the other end of the state, crews continued to battle wildfires in Southern California, including a blaze of more than 396 square km that destroyed over 500 structures in Malibu and nearby communities. At least three deaths were reported.

      Homes destroyed

      Officials in Northern California put the number of homes lost there at nearly 8,800, and the sheriff said the task of recovering remains had become so vast that his office brought in 287 more searchers Wednesday, including National Guard troops. The search crews used 22 cadaver dogs.

      Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke joined California’s Governor Jerry Brown on a visit to Paradise on Wednesday, saying it was the worst fire devastation he had ever seen.

      “Now is not the time to point fingers,” Zinke said. “There are lots of reasons these catastrophic fires are happening.” 

      The governor said officials would need to learn how to better prevent fires from becoming so deadly .

      It will take years to rebuild, if people decide that’s what should be done, said Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “The infrastructure is basically a total rebuild at this point,” he said.

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      Trump weighs removing chief of staff, DHS secretary: reports

      Trump is considering replacing chief of staff, John Kelly, and Homeland Security head, Kirstjen Nielsen, US media report

        US President Donald Trump is expected to remove Department of Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen and is considering replacing chief of staff John Kelly in another shakeup of his administration, US media and agencies reported, citing unnamed sources. 

        Trump has been mulling removing Nielsen, a Kelly protege who became the secretary at Homeland Security when he left the job to become Trump’s chief of staff, for a number of weeks, a source told Reuters news agency. 

        The source cautioned Trump could still change his mind on the matter, but said he has grown weary of her in his push to harden the US border with Mexico.

        Trump has not decided on a candidate to replace Nielsen, the Wall Street Journal reported.

        “The secretary is honoured to lead the men and women of DHS and is committed to implementing the President’s security-focused agenda to protect Americans from all threats and will continue to do so,” said Tyler Houlton, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman, in response to an ABC News report about the possible staff changes.

        Trump is also considering replacing Kelly, an ardent defender of Nielsen, with Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, the Reuters source said. CNN reported that Ayers, along with other top aides, including adviser Johnny DeStefano and budget director Mick Mulvaney, and those outside the White House are being discussed. 

        Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, has sought to bring more stability to the White House operation under the unpredictable Trump.

        During his time as chief of staff, he and the president have had a rocky relationship, according to various news reports and Bob Woodward’s best-selling book Fear: Trump in the White House.

        In the book, Kelly is said to have described Trump as an “idiot”,  a comment that Kelly denied making.

        Kelly has said at least twice that he and the president “have an incredibly candid and strong relationship”.  

        Long list

        If they leave, Kelly and Nielsen would join a long list of people who have been fired by Trump or resigned since he took office in January, 2017. 

        Many analysts predicted a shakeup of Trump’s cabinet and inner circle after the US midterm elections.

        On Wednesday, Trump told reporters that “as we make changes, we’ll sit down and talk to you about it.

        “It’s no big secret. A lot of administrations make changes after midterms,” he said. 

        When asked specifically about Kelly, Trump said that “for the most part, I’m very, very happy with this Cabinet.” 

        Hours later it was announced that Jeff Sessions resigned at the presidents request. Sessions had been at odds with Trump over the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election. Trump named Matthew Whitaker as the acting attorney general, a move that is being challenged in court. 

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        US stops refuelling of Saudi-led coalition aircraft in Yemen war

        Saudi Arabia and the United States have agreed to end U.S. refuelling of aircraft from the Saudi-led coalition battling Houthi insurgents in Yemen, ending a divisive aspect of U.S. support to a war that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.

        The move, announced by the coalition on Saturday and confirmed by Washington, comes at a time when Riyadh, already under scrutiny for civilian deaths in Yemen air strikes, is facing global furore and potential sanctions over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2.

        The United States and Britain late last month called for a ceasefire in Yemen to support U.N.-led efforts to end the nearly four-year long war that has killed more than 10,000 people and triggered the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis.

        “Recently, the Kingdom and the Coalition increased its capability to independently conduct inflight refuelling in Yemen. As a result, in consultation with the United States, the Coalition has requested the cessation of inflight refuelling support for its operations in Yemen,” it said in a statement.

        Saudi Arabia has a fleet of 23 planes for refuelling operations, including six Airbus 330 MRTT used for Yemen, while the United Arab Emirates has six of the Airbus planes, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya al-Hadath channel reported on Saturday.

        Riyadh also has nine KC-130 Hercules aircraft that can be used, it added.

        U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the U.S. government was consulted on the decision and that Washington supported the move while continuing to work with the alliance to minimise civilian casualties and expand humanitarian efforts.

        Any co-ordinated decision by Washington and Riyadh could be an attempt to forestall action threatened in Congress next week by lawmakers over refuelling operations.

        However, a halt to refuelling could have little practical effect on the conflict, seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Only a fifth of coalition aircraft require in-air refuelling from the United States, U.S. officials said.

        The Sunni Muslim alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE has recently stepped up military operations against the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement, including in the main port city of Hodeidah, which is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.

        “The continued escalation of attacks … by the U.S.-Saudi-Emirati coalition confirms that the American calls for a cease-fire are nothing but empty talk,” Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, head of the group’s supreme revolutionary committee, wrote in a column published by the Washington Post on Friday.

        He said the ceasefire call was an attempt “to save face after the humiliation” caused by the murder of Washington Post columnist Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi policy, that has strained Riyadh’s relationship with the West.

        Hodeidah has become a key battleground in the war in which the coalition intervened in 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government ousted by the Houthis.

        U.N. bodies warn that an all-out attack on the Red Sea port, an entry point for 80 percent of Yemen’s food imports and aid relief, could trigger a famine in the impoverished country.

        The World Food Programme said on Thursday it planned to double food assistance for Yemen, aiming to reach up to 14 million people “to avert mass starvation”.

        Air strikes by the coalition, which relies on Western arms and intelligence, have often hit schools, hospitals and markets, killing thousands of Yemeni civilians.

        U.N. special envoy Martin Griffiths hopes to convene Yemen’s warring parties for peace talks by the end of the year.

        The coalition expressed hope in its statement that his efforts would lead to a negotiated settlement, including an end to Houthi missile attacks that have targetted Saudi cities and vessels off the port of Hodeidah.

        Mattis said all parties support Griffiths’ efforts.

        “The U.S. and the Coalition are planning to collaborate on building up legitimate Yemeni forces to defend the Yemeni people, secure their country’s borders, and contribute to counter Al Qaeda and ISIS efforts in Yemen and the region,” he said in a statement.

        The last round of peace talks in Geneva in September collapsed when the Houthis failed to show up, saying their delegation had been prevented from travelling. The Yemeni government blamed the group for trying to sabotage the talks.

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        Trump threatens to revoke more reporters' press credentials

        US president doubles down in war with media after criticism for revoking credentials for CNN reporter Jim Acosta.

          US President Donald Trump has threatened to revoke the credentials of more White House reporters, doubling down in response to criticism of his administration’s decision to revoke credentials for CNN correspondent Jim Acosta.

          Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Friday, Trump launched a tirade targeted at Acosta, calling him “unprofessional” and threatening others with having their credentials revoked. 

          “You have to treat the White House with respect, you have to treat the presidency with respect,” Trump said, claiming the late Republican president, Ronald Reagan, would have acted similarly.

          Trump also took a shot at CNN journalist, April Ryan, calling her “nasty” and a “loser”.

          The comments, the latest outbursts in Trump’s long history of hostility towards the press, have drawn criticism from civil liberties groups.

          In a tweet posted soon after Trump’s comments, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said: “This is a threat straight out of an authoritarian playbook.”

          Pen America also posted a tweet, in which it said: “President Trump’s threat to revoke additional reporters’ White House access is deeply troubling.

          “Denying press passes as a method of retaliation is a violation of the First Amendment.”

          Attacks on media

          Acosta’s credentials were revoked on Thursday after a tense press conference on Wednesday, in which Trump dodged questions and lashed out at several journalists.

          When Acosta challenged the president on his use of the word “invasion” to describe a caravan of mainly Honduran migrants and asylum seekers heading to the US border, Trump launched an attack on the CNN journalist, as an aide tried to physically remove the microphone from Acosta’s hands.

          “You are a rude terrible person, you should not be working for CNN,” Trump said, further baselessly accusing him of reporting “fake news” and calling him an “enemy of the people”.

          CNN said the move was done “in retaliation for his (Acosta’s) challenging questions”.

          Trump has frequently attacked the media, including during his presidential campaign. In once infamous incident he flailed his arms mocking a disabled New York Times journalist.

          The US president has also attacked the media for being “enemies of the people”.

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          California bar shooting: Ian David Long identified as suspect

          Police say the former Marine shot into a crowd at a Thousand Oaks bar, killing 12 before likely turning gun on himself.

            Police identified 28-year-old Ian David Long as the suspected gunman in a shooting at a bar in southern California that left at least 12 people dead late on Wednesday. 

            Police said Long appeared to have shot randomly into the crowd at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, about 50km west of Los Angeles. The bar was hosting a college country music night and was packed with students and other patrons. 

            Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said on Thursday that Long was armed with a Glock 21, a .45-caliber handgun designed to hold 10 rounds plus one in the chamber. But Dean said the gun had an extended magazine that is illegal in California.

            The sheriff said Long is believed to have killed himself after opening fire on the crowd.

            Among the dead is Sergeant Ron Helus, who was reportedly killed while trying to enter the club with Highway Patrol officers responding to the gunfire. The others killed have not been identified.

            At least one person was being treated for a gunshot wound, while more than a dozen others suffered minor injuries after jumping out of windows and diving under tables during the attack.  

            Previous contact with police

            Dean said his department had several previous contacts with Long, a former US Marine, including a call to his home in April, when deputies found him acting irate and irrationally. 

            The sheriff said a mental health crisis team was called at that time and concluded that Long did not need to be taken into custody.

            Dean said the other prior encounters were a traffic accident and an incident when he was the victim of battery at a bar.

            The shooting is the latest in a long list of mass shootings in the US.  

            Three of the deadliest mass shootings in US modern history have occurred since October 2017.  

            In February, a gunman killed 17 people – most of whom were students – at a high school in Florida. In November 2017, a man entered a church in rural Texas and killed 26 people. And in October 2017, a man shot hundreds of people attending a country music concert in Las Vegas from the window of a hotel, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500 others. 

            The string of shootings has reignited the debate over gun control, with young people taking the lead. Earlier this year, hundreds of students, teachers and their supporters marched in large cities in the US against gun violence and called on politicians to take more action on gun control. 

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            At least 13 – including police officer and attacker – dead following shooting at California bar

            At least 12 people – including a police officer – were killed in a shooting at a crowded Southern California bar, police in the US have said.

            The gunman who carried out the mass shooting is also dead, bringing the fatality total to 13.

            Authorities have identified the shooter and the handgun he used in the to kill 12 people.

            An official said the man was 29 years old and deployed a smoke device and used a .45-calibre handgun when he opened fire inside the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, north of Los Angeles.

            The official declined to provide any other detail.

            Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Captain Garo Kuredjian said the first reports of shots fired came around 11.20pm local time at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, which is about 40 miles west of Los Angeles.

            Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said sheriff’s Sergeant Ron Helus responded to the scene and was shot after he entered the building.

            He died at a hospital early on Thursday but authorities did not say how the gunman died.

            Mr Helus was a 29-year veteran of the force with a wife and son and planned to retire in the coming year, said the sheriff, who choked back tears several times as he talked about the sergeant who was also his long-time friend.

            “Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff’s sergeant who was totally committed,” Mr Dean said.

            “And tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero because he went in to save lives.”

            Mr Dean said around 10 other people were shot and wounded.

            The bar’s website says it hosts College Country Night every Wednesday.

            Police said hundreds were inside when the shooting occurred.

            Tayler Whitler, 19, said she was inside the bar when a man walked in with his face partly covered by something resembling a ski mask, opened fire on a person working on the door, then began to shoot people at random.

            “It was really, really, really shocking,” she told KABC-TV as she stood with her father in the Borderline car park.

            “It looked like he knew what he was doing.”

            US President Donald Trump said on Twitter that he has been “fully briefed on the terrible shooting”.

            He praised law enforcement, saying “Great bravery shown by police” and said “God bless all of the victims and families of the victims”.

            It has been “quite some time” since there was a shooting of any kind in Thousand Oaks, a city of about 130,000 people around 40 miles (65km) west of Los Angeles.

            Nick Steinwender, student body president at nearby California Lutheran University, rushed to the scene when he heard about a shooting at the bar where he knew friends and fellow students were.

            “It was chaos, people jumping out of windows, people hopping over gates to get out” Mr Steinwender told KABC.

            He said he heard from people inside that they were hiding in toilets and the attic of the bar.

            More to follow

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            Snowden warns Israelis of dangers of state surveillance

            The man, who blew the lid on US mass spying programme, says accepting too much government surveillance posed risks.

              US whistle-blower Edward Snowden urged Israelis to be on guard against heavy-handed government and private surveillance in a speech on Tuesday.

              Snowden, a former government contractor, blew the lid off the United States’ vast surveillance programme in 2013, triggering an international debate on the mass spying by governments.

              The US whistleblower highlighted Israel’s hi-tech capabilities but warned that accepting too much government surveillance and too easily acceding to the argument that it is needed for security reasons posed serious risks.

              “If we can allow ourselves to be terrorised by someone with nothing but a knife, to reorder our societies for the convenience of state power … we’ve stopped being citizens and we’ve started being subjects,” said Snowden, who spoke via video link from an undisclosed location in Moscow.

              The 35-year-old also spoke of the NSO Group, the Israel-based company known for its Pegasus spyware.

              Vast scope of surveillance

              The software has been pinpointed by independent experts as likely being used in a number of countries with poor human rights records.

              “The idea is that companies like this increasingly are popping up all around the world,” Snowden said.

              In one case, international experts investigating the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico in 2014 were targeted with the spyware after it had been sold to the government, the experts said.

              NSO Group says its product is intended to be used only for investigating and preventing crime and violence.

              It says it investigates allegations of improper use.

              Snowden, a former contractor with the US National Security Agency, leaked thousands of classified documents to the press which revealed the vast scope of surveillance of private data put in place after the 9/11 attacks.

              The US has charged him with espionage and theft of state secrets, but Snowden said he still loves his country and hopes to return home.

              The US whistle-blower has defended the leak that forced him to take asylum in Russia.

              But he said risks had to be taken since “this world will only ever be as good as we make it”.

              Snowden spoke to an invited audience in Tel Aviv at an event organised by Israeli public relations agency OH! Orenstein Hoshen.


              Edward Snowden speaks to Mehdi Hasan

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              Networks, Facebook drop Trump's anti-immigrant ad

              Trump’s ad sparked outcry last week, drawing accusations of racism and fear-mongering ahead of the midterms.

                NBC, Fox News and Facebook pulled a widely-condemned anti-immigrant ad by President Donald Trump’s campaign as a bitter election fight for control of the US Congress headed on Monday for an unpredictable finish.

                Tuesday’s elections, widely seen as a referendum on Trump, have been portrayed by both Republicans and Democrats as critical for the future of the country. At stake is control of both chambers of Congress, and with it the ability to block or promote Trump’s agenda, as well as 36 governor’s offices.

                A surge in early voting, fueled by a focus on Trump’s pugilistic, norms-breaking presidency by supporters of both parties, could signal the highest turnout in 50 years for a midterm US election, when the White House is not on the line.

                The 30-second ad, which was sponsored by Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign and which debuted online last week, featured courtroom video of a Mexican citizen convicted in the 2014 killings of two police officers, juxtaposed with scenes of a US-bound caravan of Central American migrants and refugees. 

                Critics, including members of Trump’s own party, had condemned the spot for its open racism.

                The ad fit into the president’s near-daily attacks on immigrants and the caravan, which he has described as an “invasion”.

                CNN had refused to run the ad, saying it was “racist”. NBC, owned by Comcast Corp, said on Monday it was no longer running the ad, which it called “insensitive”.

                Fox News Channel, which Trump has repeatedly named his favourite broadcaster and is highly supportive of his increasingly nationalist policies, also said it would no longer run the spot. Fox News, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, said it had made the decision after a review but did not elaborate.

                Facebook Inc said it would no longer allow paid promotions of the ad although it would allow users to share the ad on their own pages.

                ‘A lot of things are offensive’ 

                Trump batted away reporters’ questions about the networks’ decision to drop the ad.

                “You’re telling me something I don’t know about. We have a lot of ads, and they certainly are effective based on the numbers we’re seeing,” Trump said as he departed Joint Base Andrews in Maryland for a rally in Cleveland, Ohio.

                He continued, “A lot of things are offensive. Your questions are offensive.”

                After Ohio, Trump was headed to campaign against vulnerable Democratic US senators in Indiana and Missouri at the end of a six-day pre-election sweep.

                Opinion polls and election forecasters favour Democrats to pick up the minimum of 23 seats they need on Tuesday to capture a majority in the US House of Representatives, which would enable them to stymie Trump’s legislative agenda and investigate his administration.

                But Republicans are favoured to retain their slight majority in the US Senate, currently at two seats, which would let them retain the power to approve US Supreme Court and other judicial nominations on straight party-line votes.

                With Trump focusing much of his increasingly heated campaign rhetoric on immigrants, the lead-up to the midterm vote has been marked by violence, including a spate of attempted pipe bombings targeting some of the president’s vocal critics and a deadly assault on a synagogue by a gunman.

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                Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: Trump has disgraced US prestige

                Khamenei says Iran has defeated the US in what he called its 40-year challenge against the Islamic republic.

                  Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that US President Donald Trump has “disgraced” US prestige and would be the ultimate loser from re-imposing sanctions on Tehran.

                  The United States restored sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s shipping, energy and financial sectors on Friday.

                  The measures will come into effect on Monday.

                  “This new US president … has disgraced the remnant of America’s prestige and that of liberal democracy. America’s hard power, that is to say, their economic and military power, is declining, too,” Khamenei said on Twitter on Saturday, quoting a speech he gave earlier in Tehran.

                  Khamenei was speaking on the eve of the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran.

                  “The challenge between the US and Iran has lasted for 40 years so far and the US has made various efforts against us: military, economic and media warfare,” he said.

                  “There’s a key fact here: in this 40-year challenge, the defeated is the US and the victorious is the Islamic Republic.”

                  The US said that eight countries would receive a temporary waiver from the sanctions, meaning they will be allowed to keep buying Iranian oil without being penalised.

                  Turkey said on Saturday that it had received initial indications from Washington that it would be granted a waiver, but is awaiting clarification.

                  The sanctions are the second set to be re-imposed by the Trump administration since the US withdrew unilaterally from the 2015 nuclear deal in May.

                  The challenge between the U.S. and Iran has lasted for 40 years so far and the U.S. has made various efforts against us: military, economic and media warfare. There’s a key fact here: in this 40-year challenge, the defeated is the U.S. and the victorious is the Islamic Republic.

                  Trump has said he wants to negotiate a new deal with Iran to replace the multilateral agreement, with Tehran making a number of new concessions in return for sanctions relief and the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between Washington and Tehran.

                  Hossein Askari, professor of international business and international affairs at George Washington University, told Al Jazeera it was extremely unlikely Iran would agree to Trump’s demands.

                  “The United States has 12 demands, exactly what Saudi Arabia did to Qatar,” said Askari. “One is to say ‘Iran has to end its support for terrorism’. Well, Iran has not supported terrorism for many, many years. That is off the table.

                  “It says ‘Iran has to end its missile programme’. Well, Iran is not going to stop that. Iran faces Israel, with nuclear warheads, the United States is surrounding Iran on all sides and you want Iran to just say, ‘OK, we’re not going to do anything’. That is not going to happen.

                  “And then, the third thing that’s very important, is that they want Iran to stop its operations in Syria. And the Iranian view on that is very simple.

                  “Syria was the only country that supported Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, when the United States and the Europeans gave outlawed chemical weapons to Iraq to use on the Iranians. It has no choice but to support Syria.”

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