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January 12, 2020

Protesters in Iran Chant ‘Death to a Dictator’

This Day in History | 1888

A freak blizzard kills 235 people, mostly schoolchildren and farm workers across the Northwest Plains in states like North Dakota. 

Good morning Middle Americans, 

Our primary focus here at Middle America news is an “America first” news strategy. You probably have noticed that we are reluctant to spend too much time on stories taking place abroad, unless there is a direct and significant impact on you, us and our fellow Americans. 

That’s why we are including a story today about the protests in the streets of Iran this weekend. These most recent protests against the Iranian regime were spurred on by Iran’s obvious incompetence during Thursday’s downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane. 167 people died and it wasn’t until yesterday that Iran took responsibility for  The Iranian people know more tough new sanctions are sure to follow as a result.  The sanctions already imposed by the Trump administration have crippled the Iranian economy. Now more sanctions from other countries are coming. And the protests will continue. The brutal Iranian regime, the same one that stormed the American embassy in 1979, is on the brink of collapse.  Most of you are familiar with Iranian’s shouting “death to America” – now they shouting “death to a dictator” – and calling for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down. 

Also today, More than a dozen Saudi servicemen training at US military installations will be expelled from the United States after a review that followed the deadly shooting last month at a Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida.

Instagram and its parent company Facebook are removing posts that voice support for slain Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani to comply with US sanctions, a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

Some Democrats are worried about the optics of an all-white debate this week. 

And two teens have been charged with felonies for assaulting a deer in Pennsylvania. 

Read all about it. 

– Fraser Dixon 

Saudi Servicemen to be Expelled From US After Review of December Shooting at Naval Air Station

(CNN) – More than a dozen Saudi servicemen training at US military installations will be expelled from the United States after a review that followed the deadly shooting last month at a Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, multiple sources told CNN.

The Saudis are not accused of aiding the 21-year-old Saudi Air Force second lieutenant who killed three American sailors in the December shooting, two sources said, but some are said to have connections to extremist movements, according to a person familiar with the situation.

A number are also accused of possessing child pornography, according to a defense official and the person familiar with the situation. The FBI and Justice Department declined to comment.

“In the wake of the Pensacola tragedy, the Department of Defense restricted to classroom training programs foreign military students from Saudi Arabia while we conducted a review and enhancement of our foreign student vetting procedures,” said Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a spokesman for the Department of Defense. “That training pause is still in place while we implement new screening and security measures.”

Read more here

Instagram Is Removing Posts Supporting Soleimani to Comply With US Sanctions

(CNN) – Instagram and its parent company Facebook are removing posts that voice support for slain Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani to comply with US sanctions, a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business Friday.

The Iranian government has called for nationwide legal action against Instagram in protest, even creating a portal on a government website for the app’s users to submit examples of posts the company removed, Iranian state media reported.

Instagram is one of the few western social media platforms that is not blocked in Iran. Facebook and Twitter are blocked but some Iranians access those sites using VPNs.

In a tweet, Iran’s government spokesperson, Ali Rabiei, called Instagram’s actions “undemocratic.”

Instagram shut down Soleimani’s own account on the platform last April after the US government designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization. Soleimani was an IRGC commander.

“We operate under US sanctions laws, including those related to the US government’s designation of the IRGC and its leadership,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

Democrats Alarmed at Impending All-White Debate

(Washington Post) – Only white candidates have qualified for next week’s Democratic presidential debate, the first time in this election cycle that no minority contender will make the stage. It’s a dynamic that critics say threatens to undercut the party’s rhetoric of inclusivity.

The race for the 2020 Democratic nomination kicked off last year with a historically diverse pool of candidates, including two black senators, a black mayor, a Hispanic former Cabinet secretary and an Asian businessman. Since then, all have either dropped out or failed to qualify for a spot on the stage, determined by poll numbers and donations.

Now the specter of an all-white debate in the mostly white state of Iowa is prompting concern among party activists.

Find out more about the all-white debate concerns of Democrats here

Teens Charged with Animal Cruelty for Assaulting a Deer on Video

(ABC News) – Two Pennsylvania teenagers who are accused of “holding down and repeatedly kicking” a helpless deer have been charged, officials said Friday.

Alexander Brock Smith, 18, and a 17-year-old juvenile male are each facing two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty and two felony counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated animal cruelty, according to a statement from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Smith and the other teenager, both of Brookville, were captured on social media videos assaulting the immobile white-tailed deer on Nov. 30, 2019, in Beaver Township, Pennsylvania, authorities said.

The videos “seen by thousands,” prompted an investigation after viewers alerted the game commission, according to the statement.


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