The United States received a $100 million payment from Saudi Arabia Tuesday, the same day Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his father King Salman in Saudi Arabia to discuss the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. While the $100 million payment had been brokered earlier this summer and is related to U.S. military efforts in Syria, the timing of its delivery appeared highly suspicious, with one U.S. official telling The New York Times, “The timing of this is no coincidence.” Turkish officials have said Khashoggi was tortured and murdered by a squad of 15 Saudi hit men, who dismembered his body. Video and audio recordings from inside the consulate reportedly show Khashoggi was beaten, tortured and beheaded, with his fingers cut off and his body dismembered. This is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking about his visit to Saudi Arabia.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “They made no exceptions to who they would hold accountable. They were just—they were very clear, they understand the importance of this issue, they’re determined to get to the bottom of it and that they will conduct the report. And we’ll all get a chance to see it. They each promised that they would achieve that for us.”
Reporter: “And did they say that Mr. Khashoggi is alive or dead?”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “I don’t want to talk about any of the facts. They didn’t want to, either, in that they want to have the opportunity to complete this investigation in a thorough way.”
Khashoggi’s suspected murder has caused a diplomatic crisis between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, particularly for Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has close ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This is Kushner refusing to answer a CBS reporter’s questions Tuesday.
Errol Barnett: “Hey there, Jared. Errol Barnett with CBS. Any comment on [inaudible]? This is my credential right here.”
Jared Kushner: “I don’t give a damn who you are. There’s a time and place.”
The Secret Service later had to defend itself for how its agents handled the incident, saying they did not intend to impede media access. Kushner has cultivated an extremely close relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, dining with him in Washington and Riyadh and hosting one-on-one phone calls with him outside of normal diplomatic channels.
The death toll from Category 4 Hurricane Michael has risen to 33 people, as search-and-rescue efforts continue a week after the devastating storm flattened parts of the Florida Panhandle. As many as 160,000 homes and businesses across the southeast United States still have no power, and over 1,000 people are still living in emergency shelters. Hurricane Michael was one of the most powerful storms ever to strike the U.S. mainland. Meteorologists say it was supercharged by warmer-than-usual water in the Gulf of Mexico.
In economic news, President Trump is asking federal departments to slash 5 percent from their budgets amid the swelling national deficit. The military could see a smaller cut—going from $716 billion to $700 billion—a decrease of only 2.3 percent from the current budget, which is the largest defense authorization in history. In response to Trump’s plan, former Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher Lu tweeted, “That’s a 5% cut for veterans, national security, law enforcement, healthcare, farmers, roads/bridges, workers, environment, food and housing aid. Everything. And it would still only amount to $60 billion a year—a fraction of $1.5 trillion Trump/GOP tax cut.”
Canada became the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to legalize recreational marijuana Wednesday. The Canadian government says it will also move to pardon people who have previously been convicted of low-level marijuana possession. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the new law in Canada will not affect existing marijuana laws in the U.S. and that anyone crossing the border could face marijuana-related questioning. Canadians who receive pardons for marijuana-related offenses could also be “deemed inadmissible” to enter into the United States.
In Crimea, a gunman killed 19 and wounded dozens more at a university in the Russian-annexed territory Wednesday. Authorities say the shooter was an 18-year-old student from the school, who attacked his classmates before killing himself. The attack is the deadliest instance of school violence in the region since the 2004 Beslan terror attack, which killed 333 people, most of them children. This is a school administrator speaking after the attack.
School administrator: “There were many bodies, children’s bodies. It was a real act of terrorism. They burst inside the college, right? Five or 10 minutes after I left, someone burst inside and blew everything up. All the windows blew out. They blew up the hall. Then they were running around and throwing some explosive packages. Then they were running around and holding guns. I don’t know exactly what weaponry. On the second floor, they were opening classes and were killing everyone whom they managed to find, whom they saw. Everyone is ours. It’s a real terror act, just like Beslan.”
CNN is reporting based on satellite imagery that Russia is building up its military installations in Kaliningrad, a key Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea. The reported military buildup is part of growing tensions between Russia and NATO. This comes after reports earlier this year that Russia had upgraded a nuclear weapons storage facility in Kaliningrad.
The Israeli military bombed the Gaza Strip Wednesday, killing at least one Palestinian man and injuring over a dozen more people. Gaza’s Health Ministry says the Israeli air raids killed 25-year-old Naji Ahmad al-Zaneen and injured at least six children as they were on their way to school in central Gaza. Israel claims the bombing campaign was in retaliation for a rocket allegedly fired from Gaza into Israel, which struck a home, causing no injuries.
In Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed unveiled his new Cabinet Tuesday, appointing women to a record 50 percent of positions. Ethiopia now becomes one of the first African nations—and one of only a few countries worldwide—with gender parity in ministerial positions.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an estimated 200,000 people are returning to the southern Kasai region after being expelled from neighboring Angola. Congolese officials and migrants say dozens have been killed this month as part of the forced migration. Meanwhile, in the northeastern part of the DRC, an outbreak of Ebola has killed at least 24 people over the last week.
Back in the U.S., the police accountability office in the city of Chicago has released footage of off-duty police officer Khalil Muhammad shooting unarmed African-American teenager Ricardo Hayes last year. The video directly contradicts officer Muhammad’s claim that the shooting followed an “escalated” encounter where Hayes appeared to be pulling out a gun, instead showing the officer chasing after Hayes in his car before shooting directly at Hayes as he appeared to calmly take a few steps toward the vehicle with his arms by his side. Hayes has autism, adding to recent questions over police’s handling of people with mental and developmental disabilities. Muhammad is currently on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated. The Justice Department conducted an investigation into the Chicago Police Department after the shooting and killing of African-American teenager Laquan McDonald, which showed that Chicago police are 14 times more likely to use force against young black men than white men.
In more police violence news, the family of Chinedu Okobi—a black Bay Area man who was killed by police after being tasered—is demanding answers. Thirty-six-year-old Okobi was killed on October 3 in San Mateo County, California, after he reportedly disrupted traffic, resulting in a deadly encounter with a police officer, but details about the killing remain unknown. Okobi’s family said that he suffered from mental illness.
A Pennsylvania Catholic priest pleaded guilty Wednesday to sexually abusing two boys. Prosecutors say Reverend David Lee Poulson sexually abused an altar boy in the church and made him confess afterward, as well as assaulting him—and attempting to assault another boy—at hunting camp. Poulson was arrested and charged in May following the explosive Pennsylvania grand jury investigation into systematic widespread sexual abuse in the church.
Former USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny has been arrested on charges of tampering with evidence in the case of Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor who has been convicted of sexually abusing hundreds of women and girls. Penny is accused of removing documents linked to the case from the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
And in Georgia, a bus carrying African-American senior citizens to a polling place in Jefferson County was stopped Monday, and all passengers were told to get off, after a county clerk raised concerns about the bus and the organizers’ political motivations. The bus trip was organized by the nonpartisan group Black Voters Matter. The senior citizens were on their way to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting in Georgia. This is co-founder Cliff Albright in a video released by Black Voters Matter.
Cliff Albright: “Somebody called the commission, the county commission, to complain because they saw all these black folks get on this big black bus. It’s the blackest bus in America. Somebody drove past, saw that, got nervous, got mad, called the county commission’s office, which then called the senator. And the bottom line was, all the folks who had just got on the bus—and the bus was full, this is a 50-passenger bus full of folk—had to come off the bus.”
This comes as Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is calling on her Republican opponent Brian Kemp to step down as secretary of state following allegations of widespread voter suppression.