Half the population of Yemen could soon face famine. That’s according to United Nations aid chief Mark Lowcock. He says the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe is “much bigger than anything any professional in this field has seen during their working lives.” The number of Yemenis facing famine has been updated to 14 million based on recent analysis.
Mark Lowcock: “Beyond the sheer numbers, while millions of people have been surviving on emergency food assistance for years, the help they get is enough merely to survive, not to thrive. The toll is unbearably high. The immune system of millions of people on survival support for years on end are now literally collapsing, making them, especially children and the elderly, more likely to succumb to malnutrition, cholera and other diseases.”
The ongoing U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing of Yemen has come under renewed scrutiny in the wake of the Saudi murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will halt arms exports to the Saudi kingdom, but other leaders have yet to follow suit. Amnesty International has urged French President Emmanuel Macron to halt arms sales to the Saudis, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces similar pressure in Canada. Trudeau has said he’s unlikely to cancel a 2014 deal with the Saudis for the sale of armored vehicles. President Trump has said he won’t halt weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.
President Trump spoke out Tuesday on journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, calling it the “worst cover-up ever.”
President Donald Trump: “They had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups. It’s very simple. Bad deal, should have never been thought of. Somebody really messed up.”
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the U.S. will revoke the visas of Saudi operatives accused of participating in Khashoggi’s killing. Pompeo went on to reaffirm the U.S.'s “shared strategic interests with Saudi Arabia,” echoing Trump's statements about Saudi Arabia as a strong ally to the United States.
Meanwhile, Turkish investigators have reportedly found several suitcases, a laptop and clothing that may be linked to the murder in a car belonging to the Saudi Consulate. On Tuesday, Sky News reported that parts of Khashoggi’s dismembered body were found in the garden of the Saudi consul general’s Istanbul home, though the reports remain unconfirmed.
This comes as a Reuters report into Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide for Mohammed bin Salman, claims that al-Qahtani directed Khashoggi’s killing remotely via Skype, instructing those carrying out Khashoggi’s interrogation and murder to “Bring me the head of the dog.”
Meanwhile, in Riyadh, the Saudi royal family met with Jamal Khashoggi’s family, including his son, releasing photos of the highly publicized event to the press. Salah Khashoggi appeared visibly strained as he shook the crown prince’s hand. Jamal Khashoggi’s children are banned from leaving Saudi Arabia.
Elsewhere in Riyadh, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a standing ovation Tuesday as he made a surprise appearance at the opening of a Saudi investors forum dubbed “Davos in the Desert.” The prince is due to make his first public remarks since Khashoggi’s death at the conference today. As the summit got underway, officials said the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco had signed 15 agreements with foreign investors—including six with U.S. companies—worth $34 billion. An unnamed financial services executive from the East Coast of the U.S. who attended the conference told The Washington Post, “It’s unfortunate, obviously, and we hope the regime will listen and change. But they do things their own way here.”
In Russia, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Tuesday the Trump administration is holding firm to its plan to withdraw the U.S. from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Bolton made the remarks after meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
John Bolton: “In terms of filing the formal notice of withdrawal, that has not been filed. It will be filed in due course.”
Bolton’s remarks came a day after President Trump said he hopes to expand the nuclear arsenal. The U.S. already has an estimated 6,800 nuclear warheads.
In election news, the controversy over voter suppression in Georgia took center stage Tuesday as audio of Georgia secretary of state and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp was leaked just hours before his debate with Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams, who hopes to become the nation’s first African-American woman governor. In the recording, taken at a campaign event last week and published by Rolling Stone, Kemp expressed concern over Georgians exercising their “right to vote,” particularly in early and absentee voting.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp: “And as worried as were, going into the start of early voting, with the literally tens of millions of dollars that they are putting behind the get-out-the-vote efforts for their base—a lot of that was absentee ballot requests—they had just an unprecedented number of that, which is something that continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote, which they absolutely can, and mails those ballots in. We’ve got to have heavy turnout to offset that.”
At Tuesday’s debate, Brian Kemp accused Stacey Abrams of encouraging undocumented people to vote illegally. She responded that Kemp has used Georgia’s strict “exact match” voter ID law to put thousands of voter applications on hold.
Stacey Abrams: “Under Secretary Kemp, more people have lost the right to vote in the state of Georgia. They’ve been purged. They’ve been suppressed. And they’ve been scared. This is a man who had someone arrested for helping her blind father cast a ballot. He raided the offices of organizations to stop them from registering voters. That type of voter suppression feeds the narrative, because voter suppression isn’t only about blocking the vote. It’s also about creating an atmosphere of fear, making people worried that their votes won’t count.”
In Iraq, a car bomb blast outside a market in a northern town near Mosul killed at least six people and wounded 30 others. No group has claimed responsibility, but Iraqi forces claimed that ISIS was behind the attack.
In France, police removed close to 2,000 refugees out of the Grande-Synthe camp in the northern city of Dunkirk. The camp has become a central hub for migrants attempting to reach the U.K., after the nearby Calais refugee camp—known as 'the Jungle'—was demolished in 2016. Grande-Synthe was built as a joint effort between the mayor of Grand-Synthe and Doctors Without Borders, but it has become a political flashpoint in France, and authorities have attempted to evict camp residents several times already this year.
President Trump lashed out again on Tuesday at the Central American migrant caravan making its way across Mexico toward the U.S. border, claiming that Middle Eastern terrorists had infiltrated the group. Pressed by a reporter, Trump admitted he had no proof to back his claim.
President Donald Trump: “They say it happens all the time, from the Middle East. It’s not even saying bad or good, but some real bad ones. But they intercept.”
Reporter: “But there’s no proof that they’re in the caravan now?”
President Donald Trump: “Well, they could very well be.”
Reporter: “But there’s no proof.”
President Donald Trump: “There’s no proof of anything. There’s no proof of anything. But they could very well be.”
Vice President Mike Pence claimed Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández had spoken to him about the caravan.
Vice President Mike Pence: “He told me that the caravan, that’s now making its way through Mexico, headed for the southern border, was organized by leftist organizations and financed by Venezuela.”
Later in the broadcast, we’ll go to Phoenix, Arizona, to speak with immigrant rights organizer Jacinta González about a shocking new report detailing how companies like Amazon, Palantir and Microsoft are profiting from and expediting Trump’s deportation operations.
President Trump falsely accused Puerto Rico of using hurricane relief funds to pay off debts, tweeting, “The U.S. will NOT bail out long outstanding & unpaid obligations with hurricane relief money!” The tweet came as the federally appointed financial oversight board PROMESA approved a revised fiscal reform plan which calls for cuts in government spending, and is projecting that over $80 billion in anticipated federal disaster funds will help rebuild the Puerto Rican economy. In fact, elected officials in Puerto Rico have not advocated using relief funds to pay off debt. Governor Ricardo Rosselló opposed the newly unveiled plan, saying, “money will be available to bondholders, but to the detriment of the most vulnerable and our people. This is simply unfair.”
At a Houston, Texas, campaign rally for Republican Senator Ted Cruz Monday evening, President Trump declared that he was a “nationalist.”
President Donald Trump: “A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much. And you know what? We can’t have that. You know, they have a word. It sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist. And I say, really, we’re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I’m a nationalist. OK? I’m a nationalist.”
Questioned by reporters on Tuesday, Trump denied that the term “nationalist” was used to describe racist movements, saying he was “proud” to use it and that it “should be brought back.”
The wife of white supremacist leader Richard Spencer has accused him of regularly physically and emotionally abusing her during their marriage, according to divorce filings. Nina Kouprianova alleges “being hit, being grabbed, being dragged around by her hair, being held down in a manner causing bruising, and being prevented from calling for help.” Additionally, the filings claim that Spencer’s racist public statements have made his family, including his two young children, the “targets of violence.” Spencer, who is credited with coining the term “alt-right,” has attracted violence following many of his speeches and was a featured speaker at the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
In New York City, five of the nine members of the far-right group “Proud Boys” targeted by the NYPD for attacking people on a Manhattan street, have been arrested on rioting and assault charges. The arrests follow the October 12 street attack in which dozens of members of the group were caught on camera physically assaulting anti-fascist protesters after attending a talk by leader Gavin McInnes at the nearby Metropolitan Republican Club. The NYPD was sharply criticized following the attack for failing to arrest anyone at the time.
In Brazil, right-wing presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro is leading handily in the polls ahead of this weekend’s election, as civil society groups are warning against a dangerous turn toward authoritarian rule. Reporters Without Borders is warning against ongoing attacks on press freedom, including threats against reporter Patrícia Campos Mello, who wrote the widely circulated story claiming pro-Bolsonaro business leaders were funding an online smear campaign against his opponent Fernando Haddad.
Meanwhile, video has surfaced of Jair Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo Bolsonaro threatening to shut down the Supreme Court if his father did not win in the upcoming elections.
And former Brazilian political prisoners are calling out Bolsonaro’s frequent praise for Brazil’s former military dictatorship and his defense of notorious torture chief Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, who died without ever being tried for his crimes. This is former political prisoner Gilberto Natalini.
Gilberto Natalini: “So, I think whoever defends Ustra—Bolsonaro himself—Bolsonaro knows who Ustra was. He knows. He has an authoritarian tendency, which is a tendency that, in my opinion, borders on savagery when he defends torture. Bolsonaro knows. He is not a useful idiot. However, a lot of Brazilians who are voting for him, they support him because of a reaction against the Workers’ Party. So, we’re stuck between something bad and something worse.”