President Trump has announced plans to pull the United States out of a landmark nuclear arms pact with Russia, in a move that could spark a new arms race. President Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces—or INF—Treaty in 1987. The INF banned all nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with short and medium ranges. The treaty helped to eliminate thousands of land-based missiles. Trump spoke about his decision on Saturday.
President Donald Trump: “Russia has violated the agreement. They’ve been violating for many years, and I don’t know why President Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out. And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons, and we’re not allowed to. We’re the ones that have stayed in the agreement, and we’ve honored the agreement. But Russia has not, unfortunately, honored the agreement. So we’re going to terminate the agreement. We’re going to pull out.”
President Trump did not offer details on how Russia was violating the deal. Over the years, Russia has also accused the United States of violating the agreement by deploying missiles in Romania. National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has advocated against the treaty, is now in Moscow for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin. China and France spoke out against the move, with the Chinese Foreign Ministry saying, “The document has an important role in developing international relations, in nuclear disarmament, and in maintaining global strategic balance and stability.” We’ll have more on the U.S.-Russia treaty after headlines with the director of the Arms Control Association, Daryl G. Kimball.
The New York Times reports the Trump administration is attempting to eliminate the rights of transgender people by creating a narrow legal definition of gender. Citing a government memo that it obtained, the Times reports that the Department of Health and Human Services has undertaken an effort across several government agencies to establish a definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex. That definition would be either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals a person is born with. The proposal, if enacted, would reverse the expansion of transgender rights that took place under President Barack Obama. Responding to the Times article, hundreds of LGBT activists rallied in New York’s Washington Square Park Sunday night. Groups plan another demonstration today in Washington, D.C. We’ll have more on this story later in the broadcast with Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the ACLU.
The government of Saudi Arabia has admitted for the first time that Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi is dead. The admission on Friday came after weeks of Saudi denials and shifting narratives on the whereabouts of Khashoggi, who entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 and was never seen again. The Saudis now say Khashoggi was killed in a “fistfight” inside the consulate and that 18 Saudis had been arrested in connection with the death.
President Trump on Friday said he found the claim credible, but later shifted his statements as lawmakers from both parties blasted the Saudi claims. This is Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speaking to CNN on Sunday.
Sen. Bob Corker: “It’s just not a credible story for somebody to walk in with 15 other people and get into a fistfight and lose their life. … It’s my sense—and I don’t know yet, but based on the intel that I’ve read, based on the other excerpts that I’ve read, it’s my thinking that MBS was involved in this, that he directed this, and that this person was purposely murdered.”
President Trump later told The Washington Post, “Their stories are all over the place.” But Trump is continuing to resist growing calls in Congress to cut off U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, and Trump has questioned whether the killing was ordered at the highest levels of Saudi’s government. Saudi state media reports both King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called Jamal Khashoggi’s eldest son over the weekend to express their condolences. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir offered this account of the killing on Fox News.
Adel al-Jubeir: “First of all, we’re not an authoritarian government. We’re a monarchy. We have our checks and balances. We have our systems. The individuals who did this, did this outside the scope of their authority. There obviously was a tremendous mistake made. And what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up. That is unacceptable in any government. These things unfortunately happen.”
Turkish officials say Khashoggi was tortured, murdered and dismembered by a squad of 15 Saudi hit men shortly after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2. New Turkish surveillance video obtained by CNN shows a body double emerging from the consulate just hours after Khashoggi entered the building, apparently wearing clothes taken off Khashoggi’s body but with mismatched shoes. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to reveal the findings of an investigation on Tuesday.
This came as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin traveled to the Saudi capital Riyadh for meetings with senior Saudi officials at an anti-terrorism center run jointly by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Mnuchin told reporters it was “premature” to even discuss sanctions at this point.
Meanwhile, a new report by The New York Times details an online campaign ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to monitor and attack what he considered to be dissident Saudi voices on Twitter. As part of the effort, trolls would harass and silence critical voices, including Jamal Khashoggi’s. Posts critical of Saudi Arabia’s military attacks in Yemen would be reported as “sensitive,” which can result in the posts being removed by Twitter. The report also details the grooming of a Twitter employee, Ali Alzabarah, who was convinced by the Saudis to access a number of target Twitter accounts. Alzabarah was fired by the tech giant in 2015. And the Times reports the U.S. consulting firm McKinsey & Company carried out research that the Saudi government used to target dissidents.
In Afghanistan, voters turned out in large numbers to vote in the country’s parliamentary elections over the weekend amid violence and deadly attacks. An Afghan official said that 27 people were killed and 100 wounded across the country on Election Day, including at least 18 people killed by a suicide bomber Saturday as they waited to cast ballots.
This comes days after the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack that killed top Afghan General Abdul Raziq in the southern province of Kandahar, prompting a week’s delay for voting in the region. The Pentagon said Sunday U.S. Army General Jeffrey Smiley was shot and wounded in that attack. The top U.S. general in Afghanistan, Scott Miller, was also a target of the attack but survived uninjured. The elections, which were postponed three times due to security concerns, saw a record number of women and young people running for the 250 parliamentary seats. Preliminary results are expected in November.
In Gaza, Israeli forces shot and injured at least 130 Palestinians on Friday as protesters gathered near the Gaza Strip separation barrier with Israel. Gaza’s Health Ministry says 25 children and four paramedics were among the injured. The demonstration was the latest under the banner of the Great March of Return, which started on March 30. Israeli forces have killed over 200 Palestinians and injured at least another 18,000, according to Gaza health officials.
Meanwhile, Israel has postponed plans to evict 180 Palestinian Bedouins from the village of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank to make way for the expansion of two nearby Jewish-only settlements. Israel has come under international pressure from the United Nations and the European Union not to demolish the village; earlier this month, a prosecutor with the International Criminal Court said the planned demolition could constitute a war crime.
A migrant caravan making its way to the U.S. border from Central America crossed into Mexico this weekend amid ongoing threats by President Trump. Hundreds became stranded on a border bridge between Guatemala and Mexico as fences blocked their entry into Mexico, with some spending the night on the open-air bridge. Many eventually resorted to swimming or crossing the river in makeshift rafts. Although reports of clashes with Mexican forces at the Guatemala-Mexico border emerged over the weekend, the caravan is estimated to have topped 7,000 people as it continues to make its way north. This is Honduran migrant Mario.
Mario: “We ask the government of this country to give us a hand, to allow us through. It’s very complicated in our country. Honduras is complicated. We really don’t want to be there. That’s the truth. The poverty is terrible. We have children in Honduras to support, and there is no work.”
Trump has repeatedly threatened to cancel a pending trade agreement with Mexico and send U.S. military troops to the border unless the caravan turns around.
In Honduras, a court has removed lawyers representing the slain environmentalist Berta Cáceres from the trial of eight men accused of carrying out her murder. The victim’s lawyers had called for the three judges trying the case to be replaced, accusing them of bias, abuse of authority and of violating due process by prohibiting evidence. But on Friday the judges rejected the motion and instead ordered Cáceres’s lawyers removed from court proceedings. Cáceres won the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize for her work protecting indigenous communities, before she was assassinated in 2016 as she led a campaign against a massive hydroelectric dam project.
Back in the United States, the U.S. death toll from Hurricane Michael has risen to at least 36, as recovery workers have taken to crowdsourcing information on social media sites in an effort to reunite about 300 people still unaccounted for or reported missing. Meanwhile, the Air Force has acknowledged that some of its F-22 stealth fighter jets were damaged or destroyed as Hurricane Michael ripped through Tyndall Air Force Base, turning hangars into rubble. At least 17 of the jets—which cost $339 million each—were damaged or destroyed, meaning the cost of replacing them could total $5.7 billion.
The Supreme Court has temporarily halted a landmark climate lawsuit brought by 21 young people who argue the government has failed to take necessary action to curtail fossil fuel emissions, violating their constitutional rights. The trial was set to begin in less than two weeks in a federal court in Eugene, Oregon.
And in Britain, an estimated 700,000 people marched through the streets of London and rallied at Parliament Square Saturday, calling for a referendum on the final Brexit deal. Organizers say it was one of the largest protests of any kind in British history. Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out any public referendum on her plans to withdraw the U.K. from the European Union. This is London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who joined Saturday’s demonstrations.
Mayor Sadiq Khan: “This government is leading us towards either a bad Brexit deal or, even worse, no deal at all. These options are a million miles away from what was promised. The government doesn’t have a mandate to gamble with our future.”