Authorities Investigating Mail Bombs Targeting High-Profile Democrats

Oct 25, 2018
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Federal authorities have launched an investigation after packages containing pipe bombs were sent to prominent Democrats, all critics of President Trump. The packages were sent to President Barack and Michelle Obama, President Bill and Hillary Clinton, George Soros, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Congressmember Maxine Waters and former CIA Director John Brennan. Several of the packages had listed Democratic Congressmember Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the return address. CNN was forced to evacuate its New York office in Manhattan Wednesday morning after it received what police described as a “live explosive device.” It came in a package addressed to Brennan that also held an envelope containing white powder. Police are also investigating a suspicious package found early this morning that was mailed to actor Robert De Niro’s restaurant in New York. De Niro has frequently publicly criticized President Trump. No one was hurt in any of the cases. This all comes less than two weeks before the midterm elections. On Wednesday afternoon, President Trump called the attempted bombings “despicable acts.”

President Donald Trump: “The full weight of our government is being deployed to conduct this investigation and bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice. We will spare no resources or expense in this effort. And I just want to tell you that in these times we have to unify. We have to come together and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.”

Trump Attacks Media as NYC Mayor Says Hateful Rhetoric Fuels Violence

Oct 25, 2018
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At a campaign rally in Wisconsin last night, Trump did not name any of the Democrats targeted by the pipe bombs. Trump called on the media to stop what he called its “endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks.” He didn’t say a bomb was sent to CNN. Just last week, Trump praised Montana Congressmember Greg Gianforte for body slamming a reporter, for which Gianforte pleaded guilty to criminal assault. Trump has called the news media the “enemy of the American people,” often singling out CNN. Trump has assailed Congressmember Maxine Waters as “low-IQ.” He led the “birther” movement questioning Barack Obama’s citizenship, and once said “Second Amendment people” could take matters into their own hands if Hillary Clinton was elected president. On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said such angry political rhetoric is inspiring violence.

Mayor Bill de Blasio: “To all public officials of all partisan affiliations: Don’t encourage violence. Don’t encourage hatred. Don’t encourage attacks on media. You could disagree, but you have to show respect for people and air your disagreements peacefully. So, unfortunately, this atmosphere of hatred is contributing to the choices people are making to turn to violence.”

Meanwhile, in Delaware, federal investigators are tracking a suspicious package they believe was addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden. Authorities said it remains unclear if the devices were operable bombs or designed to look like bombs. We’ll have the latest on this developing story after headlines.

California Neo-Nazi Leader Arrested & Charged After Fleeing the U.S.

Oct 25, 2018
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Meanwhile, here in Southern California, the leader of California neo-Nazi gang the “Rise Above Movement” was arrested Tuesday at Los Angeles International Airport. Robert Rundo was reportedly picked up in Central America and sent back to L.A. Rundo faces charges of plotting riots and inciting violence for his role in a range of attacks in 2017, including the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last August. Three other members of the group were charged alongside Rundo, though one remains at large. The men are accused of participating in violent attacks, as well as using the internet to incite violence ahead of various events. The group publicly documented their attacks as a recruitment tool. Earlier this month, four other members of the Rise Above Movement were indicted on riot charges. Rundo reportedly left the United States for Mexico, then Central America, following the four indictments.

Saudi Crown Prince Acknowledges Khashoggi Murder for First Time

Oct 25, 2018
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In Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He was speaking at the Saudi investment conference in Riyadh dubbed “Davos in the Desert.”

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman: “First of all, the crime was really painful to all Saudis, and I believe it is painful to every human in the world. It is a heinous crime that cannot be justified. Today, Saudi Arabia is carrying out all legal things to finalize the investigation, to cooperate with the Turkish government and to present the perpetrators to the court and take their judgment.”

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor said Thursday that Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a “premeditated” act. It’s the latest change in the narrative over Khashoggi’s death—reversing an earlier Saudi statement that Khashoggi died after a “fistfight” inside the consulate. The Saudi royal family has denied involvement, instead scapegoating a number of Saudi agents who they say are responsible for the murder. Turkish authorities maintain that Khashoggi was tortured, killed and dismembered in a premeditated operation organized by Saudi government officials.

CIA Director Gina Haspel Hears Audio Recording of Khashoggi Murder

Oct 25, 2018
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Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that CIA Director Gina Haspel has listened to the audiotapes of Khashoggi’s murder during her trip to Istanbul this week. During Senate confirmation hearings this year, the main controversy over Haspel was her decision in 2005 to order the destruction of videotapes showing CIA torture at a black site in Thailand which she oversaw.

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Spanish PM Defends Decision to Sell Weapons to Saudi Arabia

Oct 25, 2018
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In Madrid, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez resisted calls Wednesday to cut off arms sales to Saudi Arabia, saying sanctions would cost thousands of Spanish workers their jobs. Last month, the Sánchez government reversed course, after initially promising to cut off weapons sales over Saudi-led attacks on Yemen that have killed thousands of civilians. As Sánchez spoke to lawmakers, protesters gathered outside parliament. This is Amnesty International’s Isabel Mendoza.

Isabel Mendoza: “They must stop exporting more arms to Saudi Arabia, because, as our banner says, they are arms that kill. The decisions the government takes will kill hundreds of thousands of civilians in Yemen. Furthermore, arms are being sold to a country that at the moment is violating every human rights and international humanitarian law.”

French President Emmanuel Macron Vows to Continue Saudi Weapons Sales

Oct 25, 2018
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In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed that as long as he’s in office, France will continue to sell weapons to the Saudi kingdom. Macron made the comments as he toured a naval weapons expo in Paris on Tuesday, refusing to answer reporters’ questions about German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s promise to cut off weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Says U.S. Aided in Khashoggi Murder

Oct 25, 2018
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Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has weighed in on the ongoing crisis around Khashoggi’s murder, saying of Saudi Arabia, “I don’t think that a country would dare commit such a crime without the protection of America.” President Rouhani went on to address the situation in Yemen.

President Hassan Rouhani: “How could it be possible that a nation the size of Yemen can be under bombardment for many years and now facing collapse, without the backing of America? If there was no American backing, would the people of Yemen still have faced the same brutal bombing?”

Yemen: Saudi-Led Coalition Bombs Kill 16, Wound 12

Oct 25, 2018
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In Yemen, an airstrike on a vegetable packaging plant in the coastal province of Hodeidah Wednesday killed at least 16 people and wounded 12 others, according to medical workers and residents. All of the victims were workers at the plant. The killing was the latest in a string of civilian deaths amid the ongoing U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing in Yemen. The assault and a Saudi blockade have exacerbated a cholera epidemic that’s led to 1.2 million suspected cases, while fueling a food crisis that has pushed 14 million people to the brink of famine.

Super Typhoon Yutu Devastates Northern Mariana Islands with 180 mph Winds

Oct 25, 2018
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In the western Pacific, Super Typhoon Yutu slammed into the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands Wednesday as an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 180 miles per hour. Yutu is the strongest storm on record this year and one of the most powerful ever to hit a U.S. territory. This is Joey San Nicolas, the mayor of Tinian and Aguigan, in the Northern Mariana Islands.

Mayor Joey San Nicolas: “I can report to you that Tinian has been devastated by Typhoon Yutu. Many homes have been destroyed. Our critical infrastructure has been compromised. We currently have no power and water at this time. Our ports at this time are inaccessible, and several other points within the island are inaccessible.”

The Northern Mariana Islands are home to over 50,000 people, and residents have been warned they may be without electricity or running water for weeks or months. Super Typhoon Yutu is making its way toward Asia and is expected to hit the Philippines and Taiwan later this week. Climate scientists warn global warming is raising ocean surface temperatures and driving more powerful storms.

New York Sues ExxonMobil for Misleading Investors on Climate Risks

Oct 25, 2018
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New York is suing ExxonMobil for deceiving shareholders over the financial risks of climate change. The lawsuit charges that Exxon misled investors over the value of its oil reserves, failing to account for future regulations on CO2 emissions. The suit comes after a 3-year investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office. In 2015, a damning report by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times revealed that Exxon knew that fossil fuels contributed to climate change as early as the 1970s, but did not take any action even as it covered up the science.

European Parliament Approves Ban on Single-Use Plastics

Oct 25, 2018
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In environmental news, European lawmakers have voted to ban single-use plastics in an effort to reduce ocean pollution. The ban includes plastic cutlery, straws and disposable plates and would take effect starting in 2021. This is EU lawmaker Frédérique Ries.

Frédérique Ries: “What are the objects we have most often found on the beaches? That’s single-use plastic. And secondly, are there inexpensive alternatives that are accessible? If that’s the case, then we’ll change. It’s not complicated. It’s disfiguring our beaches. It’s killing our oceans. It’s killing animals. It ends up in fishes’ stomachs and kills them. And at the end of the day, it ends up inside our bodies. There’s an impact on human health. There are alternatives which exist, which are not expensive and are often European, so we just change things.”

The regulations still have to be approved by individual governments before becoming law.

NYT: China and Russia Spying on President Trump’s iPhone Calls

Oct 25, 2018
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The New York Times is reporting that President Trump routinely uses his unsecured iPhone to talk to friends and business partners, despite warnings from intelligence officials that Chinese and Russian spies are listening in. China reportedly analyzes Trump’s conversations to understand the motivations driving the escalating trade war between the two countries. Anonymous sources who spoke to the Times said they don’t believe Trump discusses classified information on these calls, saying he “rarely digs into the details of the intelligence he is shown and is not well versed in the operational specifics of military or covert activities.”

Judge Orders Georgia Officials to Stop Rejecting Mail-In Ballots

Oct 25, 2018
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In election news, a federal judge has ordered Georgia to stop rejecting absentee ballots because of mismatched signatures. Wednesday’s order came in response to two lawsuits claiming that election officials in Gwinnett County rejected nearly one out of 10 mail-in ballots because of alleged mismatched signatures, incomplete forms or missing residential addresses. More than 60 percent of Gwinnett County’s residents are Latino, black or Asian. Click here to see our coverage of voter suppression efforts in Georgia.

Megyn Kelly Apologizes After Questioning Why “Blackface” Is Racist

Oct 25, 2018
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And in media news, NBC host Megyn Kelly may be on her way out from her daytime show and the network amid fallout over her comments about white people using “blackface” as part of Halloween costumes. On Tuesday, Megyn Kelly questioned why blackface is considered racist during a discussion with an all-white panel on her morning show “Megyn Kelly Today.” She publicly apologized for the comments Wednesday amid intense backlash, including from NBC colleague Al Roker.

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