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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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?”
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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.