Saudis declare ‘new phase’ in Yemen campaign

The Saudi-led coalition is apparently ending its campaign of airstrikes on Houthi rebel positions in Yemen, and will instead pursue a primarily political process aimed at restoring the Yemeni government.

Officials said the “new phase” was beginning because the month-long military operation had “achieved its goals.” A statement said:

“With its end, the new Operation Restoring Hope begins with the following goals: continuing to protect civilians, continuing to fight terrorism and continuing to facilitate the evacuation of foreign nationals and to intensify relief and medical assistance to the Yemeni people.”

Yemen’s ousted President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi commended Saudi Arabia for its immediate response to his request for military intervention, saying in a pre-recorded televised speech that “Conspirators dragged Yemen into a bloody sectarian civil war… We will succeed and extremists will have no option but to resort to peaceful means.”

Iran’s foreign minister, meanwhile, said the Saudi move was “positive” and called for “urgent humanitarian assistance” for Yemen.

The strategic shift happens as US forces are reportedly conducting manned reconnaissance missions off the Yemeni coast while warships track an approaching Iranian convoy.

USNI News has updates on naval deployments around Yemen.

(CNN)

***

* WORLD *

Suspect Injured Baltimore

(image: Baltimore Sun/Yahoo)

More than 1,000 protesters gathered in Baltimore as the Justice Department said it had begun an investigation into the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died a week after being arrested in the city. The circumstances of Gray’s arrest are unclear and six police officers have been suspended pending the investigation.

The penalty phase of Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev got under way in Boston, with family members giving emotional testimony. The Los Angeles Times writes:

In a photo never before made public and taken just before his 2013 arraignment for the Boston Marathon bombings, a 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stands in a federal courtroom holding cell, looking directly into the surveillance camera and defiantly flashing his long, thin middle finger.

Prosecutors used the startling image Tuesday at the start of the penalty phase of Tsarnaev’s capital murder trial to convince jurors that the Russian immigrant remains defiant and unremorseful, and should pay with his life for the April 2013 bombings.

 

At his trial in Germany, a 93-year-old former SS member accepted that he was “morally complicit” for the murders of 300,000 people at Auschwitz in 1944.

Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was sentenced to 20 years in prison for ordering the arrest and torture of protesters while in power.

(BBC)

A new BBC documentary World’s Richest Terror Army, to be broadcast on Wednesday, shows how ISIS is “skimming money from its enemies in both Damascus and Baghdad, making millions out of selling oil to the Assad regime and “taxing” Iraqi government money” according to journalist Peter Taylor.

***

* POLITICS * After five months in legislative limbo, Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch appears to be headed for a confirmation decision after an agreement in the Senate cleared the way for a vote “in the next day or two,” according to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

President Obama addressed criticism from the left of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, saying that his opponents – including Senator Elizabeth Warren – are “simply wrong on the facts.” Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, continued to “walk the tightrope” on trade while campaigning in New Hampshire. Politico writes:

[But] her afternoon praise for the president, which came just hours after the release of a new PPP poll showing that more residents of the state approve of his performance than disapprove, ran in contrast to her morning caution about the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, with which she is closely associated due to her time in Obama’s State Department.

“Any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security,” Clinton said of the negotiations that have split her own Democratic Party.

Bill Schneider writes at Reuters that the trade issue is a “lose-lose” situation for Mrs Clinton.

If she supports fast track, it will inflame liberals who will hound her over it all through the primaries. It may even propel a challenge from her left. If she opposes fast track, she will enrage the Obama administration and get blamed if he suffers an embarrassing defeat. She will also tick off Wall Street and risk losing their campaign contributions.

Technically, Clinton does not have to take a position at all. She’s no longer a member of Congress. But she’ll look like a wuss if she refuses to say where she stands on an issue that is galvanizing her party.

***

* BUSINESS * Shake Shack announced plans to open its first West Coast location, in West Hollywood, next year. Quartz writes:

In Los Angeles, the company will set up at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and West Knoll Drive. New Yorkers won’t recognize the outdoor patio and dedicated parking lot planned for the site. But Los Angelenos visiting the restaurant should expect what New Yorkers have long gotten used to: very, very long lines, and burgers that the company says are made from “100% all-natural, antibiotic-free Angus beef.”

 

British police arrested a trader whom the US Justice Department wants extradited in connection with the 2010 “Flash Crash” incident, which wiped billions of dollars off the value of US shares in minutes.

Yahoo reported a 93% drop in quarterly profit from last year. CEO Marissa Mayer said the company is “amidst a multi-year transformation to return an iconic company to greatness.”

***

* MEDIA * Smart redesigns on Tuesday night at both The Atlantic and WSJ.com.

Gannett announced that its soon-to-be-spun-off digital and broadcasting arm will be called TEGNA.

In all the Pulitzer “excitement” on Monday, you could be forgiven for overlooking the Peabody Awards for excellence in broadcasting. Podcast phenomenon Serial became the first of that genre to be recognized with a Peabody.

It was also the seventh national Shorty Awards.

 

This is very cool, if you haven’t seen it – The New York Times watches as 515 years of Manhattan history unfolds in the span of an elevator ride. 

 

* SPORTS * The NFL schedule for the upcoming season was released, while teams – not to mention fantasy game players – continue to gear up for the 2015 draft, which begins on April 30.

 

Tuesday was quite the sporting evening in the nation’s capital, with both the Wizards and  Capitals winning their playoff games, and the Nationals following up with a late victory over the Cardinals to close out a rarely-seen trifecta.

 

In the Uefa Champions League, an emphatic 6-1 victory for Bayern Munich saw them blow past Porto (7-4 on aggregate) into the semi-final. They’re joined by Barcelona after Neymar scored twice to give the Spanish club a 2-0 win over Paris St Germain (5-1 on aggregate.)

Wednesday sees the conclusion of the quarter-finals, with Monaco hosting Juventus one goal down, and a finely poised, goalless Madrid derby between Real and Atletico.

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