Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

Yemeni children from families affected by the war and blockade receive a lunch meal from a charitable center on April 12, 2021 in Sana'a, Yemen. (Photo: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)

Yemeni children from families affected by the war and blockade receive a lunch meal from a charitable center on April 12, 2021 in Sana'a, Yemen. (Photo: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)

Pressure on Biden to End Yemen Blockade Builds With New Letter From Lawmakers

Rep. Ro Khanna says members of Congress are "assessing" whether a War Powers Resolution is needed to fully end U.S. involvement.

Jessica Corbett

A bipartisan letter that members of Congress sent Tuesday to Secretary of State Antony Blinken increased growing pressure on the Biden administration to fully end U.S. support for Yemeni suffering and push the Saudi Arabia-led coalition to "lift its obstruction of commercial and humanitarian imports" to the war-torn country.

Although President Joe Biden was praised early in his term for a series of actions on Yemen—temporarily freezing arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, ending U.S. support for the coalition's "offensive operations," and reversing the designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organization—lawmakers and activists want him to go further and criticize the administration's denial of the blockade.

In light of the president's recent actions, the letter (pdf) to Blinken—led by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)—expresses appreciation for "the Biden administration's commitment to address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and resolve the underlying conflict that drives it," while also pushing for additional action.

"Since 2015, the restrictions imposed by the coalition have critically exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in Yemen," the letter says. "The interference, delay, and outright blocking of commercial goods and humanitarian assistance shipped to Yemen's ports is a principal cause of price inflation, food insecurity, economic collapse, and the failure of public services in Yemen. These measures do not interrupt the supply of Iranian and other weapons to the Houthis."

The letter acknowledges recent progress on getting fuel into Yemen as positive but adds that "none of this excuses the Saudi-led coalition's continued obstruction of commercial and humanitarian imports to Yemen, which serves no legitimate humanitarian, political, or security purpose. Ending this practice will boost Yemen's economy, de-escalate the conflict, and prevent this humanitarian catastrophe from worsening—all important U.S. objectives."

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) also signed on to the letter, as did Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), William Keating (D-Mass.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Colin Allred (D-Texas), Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), and Kathy Manning (D-N.C.). It came a week after over 70 lawmakers—led by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.)—sent a similar message to the White House.

As Aída Chávez reported for The Nation Tuesday:

Khanna told The Nation that members of Congress have been briefed by the National Security Council and State Department but are currently "assessing" whether a War Powers Resolution is needed. Members are also discussing the possibility of using the amendment process in upcoming bills. "What we've seen is that the blockade is really what's starving Yemeni children and Yemeni civilians," Khanna said. "Right now, there is a moral outrage in Congress about what's going on."

Vox's Alex Ward, who reported last week on the "relentless pressure from the left" that Biden is currently facing, made clear the administration's position on the blockade in a series of tweets Monday.

"It is not a blockade," an unnamed State Department spokesperson told the reporter.  "A blockade would imply there's nothing getting in."

 "U.N. data clearly shows food, aid, and now fuel are getting in. But it's possible the Saudis have a veto over which ships get okay to dock as part of the process," Ward noted. "It's also likely, as many reported, that the Saudis are really controlling what does and doesn't go into Yemen," despite a 2016 agreement. 

Linking to Ward's report, Keane Bhatt, policy director for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, argued in a series of tweets Sunday that "the U.S. still supports the war and blockade."

When a CNN investigation showed in early March "that the Saudi blockade led to deadly fuel and food shortages in Yemen, starving children, U.S. envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking effectively denied [the] blockade's existence and obfuscated its impact," he said.

Bhatt also highlighted that "CNN's explosive finding that the Saudi blockade was 'U.S. supported' never needed correction or retraction; there's no sign the White House or State Department objected to the description or provided contrary evidence."

After detailing relevant remarks from not only Lenderking but also Blinken, State Department spokesperson Ned Price, and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield alongside recent developments, Bhatt said that "in my view, this all amounts to a concerted, deliberate diplomatic campaign by the U.S. to provide political cover for the prolonged use of this Saudi war tactic, even as the U.N. and [World Food Program] pleaded for the blockade to be lifted independently of a ceasefire."

"If the White House does not heed the calls of members of Congress urging it to reverse its current course, the Saudi blockade will help kill 400,000 Yemeni children and 16 million civilians on the brink of starvation this year," he warned, citing a recent report from U.N. agencies.

"If the administration is not responsive," he noted, "Congress has tools to compel an end to U.S. support for the blockade by invoking and effectuating its authorities under Article I of the Constitution, the 1973 War Powers Act, and its power of the purse via appropriations."

The Yemeni Liberation Movement, which has been leading a hunger strike to protest the blockade since March 29, is circulating a petition that urges Biden to "publicly speak out against the blockade on Yemen" and "end all U.S. support for the Saudi-led blockade."

"Yemenis have been deprived of their basic human rights of water, food, electricity, and life at the hands of the U.S.-funded onslaught," says the petition webpage. "This is a preventable, man-made humanitarian crisis. We will not stand by the deaths of our families and people."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·

'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·

West Virginia Constituents Decry 'Immorality' of Joe Manchin

"West Virginia has been locked into an economy that forces workers into low-wage jobs with no hope for advancement, and after decades of this our hope is dwindling," said one West Virginian. "The cuts that Sen. Manchin has negotiated into the agenda hurt our state."

Julia Conley ·

'Texans Deserved Better Than This': Supreme Court Leaves Abortion Ban in Place

The nation's high court set a date to hear a pair of legal challenges to the "horrific" restrictions.

Jessica Corbett ·

'Like It Never Happened': Federal Judge Tosses Trump Attack on Clean Water Rule

Denying a Biden administration request to temporarily retain the rule, the judge reestablished "the careful balance of state and federal power to protect clean water that Congress intended when it wrote the Clean Water Act."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo