At least two people have died in the U.S. after Hurricane Michael slammed into Florida and Georgia on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm. With winds topping 155 miles per hour, Michael is the third most powerful storm to ever hit the U.S. mainland. The Carolinas are now bracing for more flooding, just weeks after the region was devastated by Hurricane Florence. While meteorologists said Hurricane Michael was supercharged from the warmer-than-usual water in the Gulf of Mexico, there was almost no mention of global warming on the cable news networks.
Advocacy groups say the Florida Department of Corrections has not evacuated at least a dozen prisons in mandatory evacuation zones as of Wednesday.
Meanwhile, in Indonesia, a 6.0-magnitude earthquake shook the islands of East Java and Bali early this morning, killing at least three people. This comes as the official death toll from the devastating 7.5-magnitude earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia two weeks ago has risen to 2,073 dead, with over 5,000 people still missing.
A new United Nations report says the damages caused by extreme weather events and other so-called natural disasters have cost $2.9 trillion in economic losses over the last 20 years. This is professor Debarati Guha, who contributed to the report.
Debarati Guha: “We really need to have some disaster risk reduction and disaster risk mitigation, that is adaptation for the short term, for a 5-to-10-year period. Poor people in poor countries do not have 20 years, 30 years, 40 years. Most of those children will be dead. This is what is going to happen. Either they will be dead because of the catastrophe itself, or they will be dead because of the prevailing, persistent effect of malnutrition that comes along with these catastrophes, with the droughts and the floods.”
This follows Monday’s report by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which found humanity has only a dozen years to mitigate global warming and limit the scope of global catastrophe. We’ll have more on climate change and Hurricane Michael after headlines.
The Washington Post is reporting, based on U.S. intelligence intercepts, that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia. Khashoggi disappeared last week after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. One Turkish official told The New York Times that Khashoggi was assassinated inside the consulate by a team of 15 Saudi operatives who used a bone saw to dismember his body before smuggling body parts out of the building.
The U.S. intelligence intercepts are the latest piece of evidence implicating the Saudi government in Khashoggi’s death, which has sparked a diplomatic crisis for the Trump administration, particularly for President Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Kushner has actively cultivated Mohammed bin Salman as a key ally, praising the young leader, dining with him in Washington and Riyadh and hosting one-on-one phone calls with him outside of normal diplomatic channels. On Wednesday, President Trump also praised Mohammed bin Salman, calling him a “fine man,” as Trump answered reporters’ questions about who within the Saudi government he’d spoken to about Khashoggi’s disappearance.
President Donald Trump: “I’d rather not say, but at a very high level, the highest level. Let’s say—let me say this: It’s the highest level. OK?”
Reporter 1: “In the last couple of days?”
President Donald Trump: “Yeah, yeah. More than—and more than once.”
Reporter 2: “You had mentioned that you spoke with King Salman, so, I mean—”
President Donald Trump: “Well, I do anyway, and I’ve always found him to be a fine man. We’ve have a very good relationship. I’m not happy about this. We have to see what—what happens. You know, we have to see what happens. Nobody knows what happened yet. They don’t know over there. But it’s a very serious situation, and it’s something we’re taking very seriously. OK?”
In Brazil, thousands of people took to the streets of São Paulo to protest against far-right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who won first place in Sunday’s presidential election. He’ll face a runoff against the second-place candidate, Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers’ Party, on October 28. These are two of the protesters in São Paulo.
Alan Antunes: “We have the fascist threat that is Bolsonaro, and we have to position ourselves.”
Mariana Maximiliano: “I am very scared that there’s a chance that Bolsonaro will become president. Our mission is to make 'no' our answer, and I think we have 18 days to do it and try to solve this situation.”
Wednesday’s protest came as The Wall Street Journal has endorsed Bolsonaro, despite his long history of making racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments, as well as openly praising Brazil’s military dictatorship. Using language that mirrored President Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” the Journal’s editorial board wrote, “Bolsonaro is best understood as a conservative populist who promises to make Brazil great for the first time. … He has attracted support from the middle class by pledging to reduce corruption, crack down on Brazil’s rampant crime and liberate entrepreneurs from government control.”
In Burma, authorities have arrested three journalists after they wrote a piece criticizing the government. The journalists from Eleven Media Group, who wrote about the funding of a city bus system, could face up to two years in prison if found guilty of “fear or alarm to the public.” In 2016, editors from the same paper went to jail over a piece accusing a government official of bribery.
The arrests come just a month after a Burmese court sentenced two Reuters journalists to seven years in prison for violating Burma’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act, causing international condemnation. At the time of their arrest, the Reuters journalists Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone were investigating a massacre committed by the Burmese military targeting Rohingya Muslims.
In Peru, Keiko Fujimori, the leader of the opposition and daughter of former dictator President Alberto Fujimori, was arrested Wednesday over allegations of money laundering and accepting illegal campaign contributions. Last week, a Peruvian judge overturned a pardon of her father Alberto Fujimori, who is now expected to return to prison for crimes including kidnapping, bribery and ordering massacres by death squads in the 1990s during his presidential rule.
In financial news, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by more than 800 points Wednesday, as stocks of tech companies Facebook, Netflix and Twitter all tumbled sharply. Economists say the market drop was sparked by the Fed’s decision to raise interest rates, after having propped up the economy for years following the 2008 economic crisis by holding interest rates at near-zero levels.
In more financial news, the Justice Department has approved a $69 billion merger between CVS Health and Aetna, one of the nation’s largest healthcare insurance companies. The proposed merger is part of a wave of consolidation in the healthcare market, which experts say could leave patients with less control over their medical care and prescription drugs.
In Canada, an Enbridge gas pipeline ruptured, sparking a massive fire and forcing about 100 members of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation to evacuate their homes in British Columbia. Enbridge is behind a series of controversial pipelines, including the Line 3 oil pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to a terminal in Superior, Wisconsin, and whose proposed construction has sparked massive resistance from indigenous communities on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border.
At the U.S.-Mexico border, the family of José Antonio Rodríguez marched Wednesday to mark six years since the 16-year-old Mexican boy was fatally shot in the head by a U.S. Border Patrol agent, who fired through the border fence and killed the teenager as he was walking on a sidewalk in Nogales, Mexico. This is his mother, Araceli Rodríguez.
Araceli Rodríguez: “My name is Araceli Rodríguez, the mother of José Antonio. We’re here because today marks six years since they assassinated my son. We’re marching, and we’re demanding justice. That’s why we’re here, because we’re demanding justice, since six years after the assassination of my son, there is still no justice.”
In Kazakhstan, two astronauts from the U.S. and Russia safely made an emergency landing this morning, after the failure of a booster rocket as the astronauts were headed to the International Space Station.
And activists have turned the website BrettKavanaugh.com into a resource for survivors of sexual assault. The site, whose URL was secured by a judicial reform group back in 2015, now shows a picture of the Supreme Court overlaid with the words “We Believe Survivors,” followed by a list of organizations seeking to end rape and sexual violence.