Saudis considering accepting role in journalist’s death: Source

Saudis considering accepting role in journalist’s death: Source

Dispatched to Saudi Arabia on a last-minute trip, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Tuesday with the kingdom’s top leaders to press them on the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

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In photo ops with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Pompeo smiled and greeted them warmly, even as the Saudis weigh whether to accept culpability for Khashoggi’s death, a source with knowledge of their discussions told ABC News.

It was unclear what explanation they would give or when that statement would come, but Turkey has said they believe Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

PHOTO: Saudi Arabias King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meets with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 16, 2018.Leah Millis/Pool via Reuters
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meets with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 16, 2018.

The Saudis have fiercely denied that charge, with the Trump administration urging caution until an investigation can take place.
The Saudis said Khashoggi left the consulate and disappeared later, but there’s no evidence that he ever exited the compound after entering 14 days ago.

President Trump sent Pompeo to learn what happened to Khashoggi, an issue “of great interest to the President,” according to State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.

“The Secretary has made that clear in each of his meetings today,” she added, calling those meetings “both direct and candid.”

In his first meeting with King Salman, Pompeo had words of thanks, Nauert said, for Saudi’s “strong partnership” and “his commitment to supporting a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation.” The importance of that investigation was something Pompeo and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also agreed on, Nauert said.

PHOTO: A Turkish forensic police officer works in Saudi Arabias consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 15, 2018 during the investigation over missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images
A Turkish forensic police officer works in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 15, 2018 during the investigation over missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

But it’s the crown prince or “MBS”, as he is sometimes known, that members of Congress and other U.S. officials worry ordered the plot against Khashoggi.

Painted as a bright, young reformer who has opened up Saudi Arabia to movie theaters, sporting events, and women driving, the crown prince has also overseen a crackdown on political opposition, including by arresting several wealthy Saudi princes, and activists, including women’s rights advocates.

Media reporting of his alleged involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible death has strengthened that darker image of a ruthless young leader.

“I’m not going back to Saudi Arabia as long as this guy’s in charge,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a staunch supporter of U.S.-Saudi relations. “This guy is a wrecking ball. He had this guy murdered in a consulate in Turkey, and to expect me to ignore it – I feel used and abused.”

“I’m going to sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia. You know, we deal with bad people all the time, but this is in our face. I feel personally offended. They have nothing but contempt for us,” Graham told Fox News Tuesday, adding the crown prince “has got to go.”

PHOTO: Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Manama, Bahrain, Feb. 1, 2015. Turkey claims that Khashoggi, who wrote for The Washington Post, was killed inside a Saudi diplomatic mission in Turkey. Hasan Jamali, File/AP, FILE
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Manama, Bahrain, Feb. 1, 2015. Turkey claims that Khashoggi, who wrote for The Washington Post, was killed inside a Saudi diplomatic mission in Turkey.

That kind of language was once unheard of from a senior Republican official, especially one as steeped in foreign policy.

The tone from Pompeo’s trip was noticeably different. He smiled and shook hands with King Salman and the crown prince, with whom he joked about jetlag.

“We are really strong and old allies, so we face our challenges together — the past, the day of, tomorrow,” MBS told Pompeo, who nodded along and responded, “Absolutely.”

Pompeo’s meetings all lasted around 30 minutes, but this evening he’ll have dinner with the crown prince, which is expected to be a longer affair.

PHOTO: Saudi investigators arrive ahead of Turkish police at the Saudi Arabian consulate on Oct. 15, 2018 in Istanbul.Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Saudi investigators arrive ahead of Turkish police at the Saudi Arabian consulate on Oct. 15, 2018 in Istanbul.

The U.S. had also welcomed Turkey and Saudi Arabia announcing a “joint inspection” of the consulate, and the first Turkish police officials were able to enter the compound Monday.

So far the investigation has not yielded any publicly released results, but an official told ABC News on Monday that the Saudis are considering whether to claim involvement.

The U.S. has declined to comment on that possibility.

Turkish authorities will also search the residence of the top Saudi diplomat in Istanbul, the consul general, a Foreign Ministry official told the Associated Press Tuesday.

Trump said Pompeo may head to Turkey after his visit to Saudi Arabia.

PHOTO: A food vendor pushes his cart past the residence of Saudi Arabias Consul General Mohammad al-Otaibi in Istanbul on Oct. 16, 2018.Yasin Akgul/AFP/Getty Images
A food vendor pushes his cart past the residence of Saudi Arabia’s Consul General Mohammad al-Otaibi in Istanbul on Oct. 16, 2018.

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Official resigns after killing baboon family

Official resigns after killing baboon family

Idaho’s Fish and Game commissioner has resigned amid growing backlash after he shared photographs of him smiling and posing with animals he killed during a hunting trip to Africa.

In an email sent to more than 100 friends and colleagues, Blake Fischer attached 12 pictures of himself and his wife posing with various kills in Namibia: an oryx, a giraffe, a waterbuck, a leopard and a group of four baboons, The Idaho Statesman first reported on Friday.

PHOTO: The Idaho Fish and Game official Blake Fischer resigned Oct. 15, 2018 after an uproar over a mass email in which described killing a family of baboons and other animals during a hunting trip to Africa.Idaho Governors Office
The Idaho Fish and Game official Blake Fischer resigned Oct. 15, 2018 after an uproar over a mass email in which described killing a family of baboons and other animals during a hunting trip to Africa.

Idaho’s Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter asked for, and received, Fischer’s resignation Monday evening, his office said in a press release.

“I have high expectations and standards for every appointee in state government,” Otter said in the press release. “Every member of my administration is expected to exercise good judgment. Commissioner Fischer did not. Accordingly, I have accepted his resignation from the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.”

Fischer sent the photo of himself smiling with “a whole family of baboons,” saying his wife wanted to watch him hunt since it was her first African trip.

“I think she got the idea quick,” Fischer wrote, according to the newspaper.

PHOTO: The Idaho Fish and Game official Blake Fischer resigned Oct. 15, 2018 after an uproar over a mass email in which described killing a family of baboons and other animals during a hunting trip to Africa.Idaho Governors Office
The Idaho Fish and Game official Blake Fischer resigned Oct. 15, 2018 after an uproar over a mass email in which described killing a family of baboons and other animals during a hunting trip to Africa.

Earlier, Fred Trevey, a former Fish and Game commissioner who served from 2007 to 2015, had asked Fischer to resign, the newspaper reported.

He wrote in an email that he hoped a resignation would “shield the commission as an institution and hunting as a legitimate tool of wildlife management from the harm that is sure to come.”

“I’m sure what you did was legal, however, legal does not make it right,” Trevey wrote in the email obtained by the Idaho Statesman.

Trevey wrote that it “dismays and disappoints me” that Fischer would include the photos of the baboons in his email.

“I have a difficult time understanding how a person privileged to be an Idaho Fish and Game commissioner can view such an action as sportsmanlike and an example to others,” he wrote.

In a subsequent email to Gov. Butch Otter’s office, Tony McDermott claimed at least seven ex-commissioners, including himself, shared Trevey’s concerns and the belief that Fischer used “extremely poor judgment.”

The former commissioners and pro-hunting groups, in demanding he resign, pointed out that Idaho’s hunting manual says to “refrain from taking graphic photographs of the kill….”

An Otter spokesman said that he is aware of Fischer’s email and has heard a complaint from at least one constituent.

“It’s fair to say the governor is concerned about it,” Jon Hanian said told the newspaper. “He is aware of it and did look at the pictures and we’re looking into it.”

Fischer told the Idaho Statesman that he “didn’t do anything illegal.”

“I didn’t do anything unethical. I didn’t do anything immoral,” he added.

Fischer was originally appointed to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission in 2014 and was reappointed in 2018. His resignation is effective immediately, and according to the governor’s office, the search for his replacement begins immediately as well.

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US air strike ‘kills 60 militants’

US air strike ‘kills 60 militants’

Al-Shabab militants in 2012 (archive photo)

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

The US says it is committed to eradicating al-Shabab safe havens in Somalia

The US military says it believes some 60 al-Shabab militants were killed by one of its air strikes in central Somalia on Friday.

The “precision” strike around Harardere did not injure or kill civilians, it added in a statement.

The US said the attack was carried out as part of a joint effort with Somali forces to hit the al-Shabab group.

This was the deadliest air strike since November 2017 when 100 militants were killed, the statement added.

Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, has not yet commented.

“Alongside our Somali and international partners, we are committed to preventing al-Shabab from taking advantage of safe havens from which they can build capacity and attack the people of Somalia,” the US Africa Command said.

The US military has conducted more than two dozen air strikes, including drone strikes, in Somalia this year, the Associated Press news agency reports.

US President Donald Trump expanded military operations against al-Shabab in March 2017.

Traditionally, US presidents have been wary of intervening in Somalia since 18 special forces soldiers died fighting militias in the capital Mogadishu in 1993, a battle dramatised in the film Black Hawk Down.

Al-Shabab was forced out of Mogadishu in August 2011 following an offensive spearheaded by African Union (AU) troops.

But it still has a strong presence in regions around the capital.

The port town of Harardere was the hub for piracy in the region when the hijacking of ships off the Somali coast was at its peak in 2009-2011.

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Trump calls Stormy Daniels ‘horseface’ in his reaction to dismissal of her suit

Trump calls Stormy Daniels ‘horseface’ in his reaction to dismissal of her suit

President Donald Trump lashed out at adult-film star Stormy Daniels and her attorney Tuesday morning, vowing to “go after” the pair, who he referred to as “Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer.”

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The tweet from Trump comes a day after a federal judge in California handed the president a rare legal victory in his ongoing legal battles with Daniels.

Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti – who has been teasing a possible run for president against Trump in 2020 – wasted little time in responding in kind to the insults, calling Trump a “disgusting misogynist and an embarrassment to the United States.”

“Bring everything you have,” Avenatti crowed, “because we are going to demonstrate to the world what a complete shyster and liar you are.”

Also firing back on her (usually) not-safe-for-work Twitter feed, Daniels wrote, “Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present your president.”

“[H]e has demonstrated his incompetence, hatred of women and lack of self control on Twitter AGAIN!” Daniels wrote.

The barrage of Twitter barbs follows a ruling Monday by US District Court Judge S. James Otero that dismissed Daniels’ defamation claim, one of two lawsuits she filed against the president.

Otero ruled that a tweet Trump sent earlier this year mocking Daniels’ credibility was free speech protected by the First Amendment.

PHOTO: Stormy Daniels attends an event in West Hollywood, Calif., May 23, 2018.Steve Granitz/WireImage via Getty Images, FILE
Stormy Daniels attends an event in West Hollywood, Calif., May 23, 2018.

The judge noted that Daniels had “sought to publicly present herself as an adversary” to Trump, and that to deny him the ability to engage in responding to her allegations “would significantly hamper the office of the President.”

An attorney for the president, Charles Harder, characterized that ruling in a statement as “a total victory for President Trump and a total defeat for Stormy Daniels.”

The court also ordered Daniels to pay Trump’s legal fees and costs associated with defending the lawsuit. The amount has yet to be determined.

Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti quickly filed a notice of an intention to appeal the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The dismissal of the defamation claim has no bearing on Daniels’ separate lawsuit challenging the validity of the non-disclosure agreement she signed in 2016 to keep quiet about her allegations of a sexual tryst with Trump in 2006.

Trump has denied her allegations.

The defamation claim from Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, was originally filed in New York federal court earlier this year. The lawsuit claimed Trump acted with “actual malice” and “reckless disregard for the truth” when he posted a tweet mocking her claim that she was threatened by an unknown man to stay silent. The case was later transferred to federal court in California.

In an April appearance on ABC’s “The View,” Daniels and Avenatti released a sketch of the man she claims menaced her and her toddler daughter in 2011 in a Las Vegas parking lot shortly after she granted an interview to In Touch magazine about her alleged relationship with Trump, then a real estate mogul and reality-TV star.

Daniels alleges the man told her to “leave Trump alone” and to “forget the story.”

The magazine didn’t publish its story about Daniels claims until January of 2018 – after the Wall Street Journal published the first accounts of a non-disclosure agreement signed just weeks before the 2016 election.

In interviews with The View and on CBS’ 60 Minutes earlier this year, Daniels intimated that either Trump or his then-personal attorney, Michael Cohen, must have been behind the alleged threat.

To date, no evidence has emerged to support the claim.

One day after Daniels revealed the sketch – Trump ridiculed the claim on Twitter as “a sketch years later about a non-existent man.” He called it a “total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools.”

PHOTO: This artists drawing released by attorney Michael Avenatti, purports to show the man that the adult film actress Stormy Daniels says threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 to remain quiet about her affair with President Donald Trump. Michael Avenatti via AP
This artist’s drawing released by attorney Michael Avenatti, purports to show the man that the adult film actress Stormy Daniels says threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 to remain quiet about her affair with President Donald Trump.

In deciding in favor of the president, Judge Otero – who is also overseeing Daniels’ pending lawsuit over her non-disclosure agreement – ruled that Trump’s tweet “constitutes ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States.”

“Any strongly-worded response by a president to another politician or public figure could constitute an action for defamation,” Otero wrote in his opinion. “This would deprive the country of the ‘discourse’ common to the political process.”

“Such a holding would violate the First Amendment,” Otero ruled.

Otero also denied Daniels’ efforts to engage in what he called a “fishing expedition” to seek evidence that Trump was aware of the alleged threat.

Otero has scheduled a hearing for early December on Trump and Cohen’s motions to dismiss Daniels’ other lawsuit, which seeks a court ruling that the $130,000 non-disclosure agreement she signed in late October 2016 in invalid. Those proceedings have been on hold for months, following the April law-enforcement raids on Cohen’s law office and residences in New York.

Trump initially denied having any knowledge of where the money to pay Daniels came from, referring reporters’ questions in April to Cohen.

He subsequently acknowledged reimbursing Cohen for the costs of the deal but has maintained he learned about the arrangement only after the fact.

In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felonies, including one count of violating campaign finance laws in connection with the deal with Daniels. At a plea hearing in federal court in Manhattan, Cohen told the court that he had acted “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” referring to then-candidate Trump.

“I participated in this conduct for the principal purpose” of influencing the election, Cohen said.

Cohen is due to be sentenced in December.

Last month ABC News reported that Cohen is cooperating with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, sitting for multiple interview sessions that were also attended by prosecutors for the Southern District of New York.

Cohen and Trump have recently abandoned their opposition to Daniels’ lawsuit, effectively conceding that the non-disclosure contract is void, and they have each asked Judge Otero to dismiss the claim.

Avenatti, Daniels’ attorney, has countered that the case should continue because the public deserves to know why a candidate for president and his attorney were so determined to silence his client.

“I have been practicing law for nearly twenty years,” Avenatti tweeted last month.

“Never before have I seen a defendant so frightened to be deposed as Donald Trump, especially for a guy who talks so tough,” Avenatti wrote. “He is desperate and doing all he can to avoid having to answer my questions. He is all hat and no cattle.”

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62 cases of AFM confirmed across 22 states: CDC

62 cases of AFM confirmed across 22 states: CDC

There are now 62 confirmed reports of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, across 22 states in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Sept. 20, the CDC had confirmed 38 cases in 16 states, which aren’t required to report AFM cases to the CDC. This year’s numbers are similar to 2016 and 2014.

Since 2014, 386 cases have been confirmed, the CDC said on Tuesday. Currently, 127 patients are under investigation.

The average age of those afflicted is 4, and 90 percent of those with AFM are 18 or younger, the CDC said.

PHOTO: A doctor is pictured with a patient in this undated stock photo.STOCK PHOTO/Shutterstock
A doctor is pictured with a patient in this undated stock photo.

Acute flaccid myelitis is a rare condition that affects the spinal cord and can cause partial paralysis. It mostly afflicts children and young adults and can be caused by toxins in one’s environment, genetic disorders or viruses such as poliovirus, West Nile virus or adenovirus.

Symptoms of AFM are similar to a severe respiratory illness along with a fever, but those progress into neurological symptoms. Some who contract AFM will feel weakness in their arms or legs, a loss of muscle tone or slower reflexes. The most severe symptom is respiratory failure.

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