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Saudi Arabia Sends $100M to US as Trump, Pompeo Defend Crown Prince

The latest news out of the middle east has been both somberly disheartening and quietly terrifying, and our national leaders aren’t doing much to quell these concerns.

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The latest news out of the middle east has been both somberly disheartening and quietly terrifying, and our national leaders aren’t doing much to quell these concerns.

Just days ago, anti-Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi had walked into the Saudi consulate in Turkey, never to be seen again.  The latest evidence in his disappearance is both gruesome and sobering, especially for those of us who happen to work in the field of journalism.

Khashoggi has apparently died during what the Saudis have called an “interrogation”. Recordings of the incident indicate that Khashoggi was butchered alive with a bone saw for 7 minutes before dying, having been asked no questions during this “interrogation”.  He was simply tortured and murdered by likely agents of the Saudi Arabian government.

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Given the Saudi influence on the global economy, however, US officials have been slow to condemn those who likely played a role at the international level.

Case in point; the same day that President Trump and Mike Pompeo heap praise on the middle eastern powerhouse, the US receives yet another massive cash transfer from the Crown.

The United States received a payment of $100 million from Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the same day Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Riyadh to discuss the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a State Department official confirmed Wednesday amid global calls for answers in the case.

Saudi Arabia publicly pledged the payment to support U.S. stabilization efforts in northeastern Syria in August, but questions persisted about when and if Saudi officials would come through with the money.

The timing of the transfer, first reported by The New York Times, raised questions about a potential payoff as Riyadh seeks to manage the blowback over allegations that Saudi agents were responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance. The State Department denied any connection between the payment and Pompeo’s discussions with Saudi officials about Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing columnist.

While the Khashoggi case will certainly evolve over time, and as witnesses and assassins find themselves again crossing borders, we must hope that the Trump administration can refrain from using language that would paint us as too close a friend to the murderous regime.

 

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Politics

Trump Channels HBO Blockbuster to Troll Democrats After Mueller Report’s Release

The President’s tweet carried with it a lot of bravado…but was it premature?

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The Mueller report has arrived, all 400+ pages of it, and the media at large is attempting to scour through it as quickly as possible at this early hour. Pundits are sitting around their special, “big news” sets, laptops ablaze like a well-lit Stonehenge, as these entertainers of “the news” attempt to breathlessly interpret the report in their own partisan language before the President and his lawyers speak on the subject. Trump, however, is a master media manipulator who will invariably get his point across, with or without the television media’s help. Such is that case today as the President piggybacked on the hype surrounding HBO’s Game of Thrones to bolster his base’s belief in him. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1118876219381026818 Critics of the President have been quick to point out that Mueller’s report specifically states that Congress is still able to work on the ten instances of “obstruction of justice” that the Special Counsel investigated, despite the President attempting to call “game over”. Attorney General Bill Barr said something quite different in a statement this morning. As for obstruction, Barr said that the report recounts 10 episodes involving Trump and “discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offense.” But he said the White House “fully cooperated” with the investigation, and that he concluded that the evidence is not sufficient to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense by Trump. Regardless of whether you believe that President Trump is “exonerated” through this Mueller report, it would be foolish in any case to believe that this is “game over”…especially now that the democrats have a hold of this massive trove of information.

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The Trump of Indonesia

Does all this sound familiar?

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[The following was written by Flag & Cross contributor Steve Sherman.] Across the planet, the political establishment and their mainstream media supporters are being disrupted.  While populist revolts were bubbling beneath the surface for years, the election of Donald J. Trump supercharged and empowered opposition to the ruling elite and set in motion a worldwide reset of our politics.   The next bout in the international struggle against the establishment is playing out tomorrow in Indonesia.  Incumbent President Joko Widodo ran a pseudo Obama campaign of “change and hope” in 2014, riding the then-dominant political strategy to victory in the world’s third largest democracy. Widodo now faces a challenge to his failed regime from Trump-like challenger, Prabowo Subianto.  There’s lots to challenge.   The economy has been stagnant.  Corruption is rife.  And Widodo has morphed into the very thing he ran against in 2014 – a corrupt potentate interested only in enriching his cronies and maintaining his power. Worse, Widodo has introduced into the mix the People’s Republic of China.  Whereas his predecessors resisted the invasion of Chinese capital and personnel, Widodo has facilitated China gaining an historic stronghold in this archipelago nation of more than 17,000 islands. While his detractors have yet to produce proof that Widodo has been personally compensated and compromised through infamous Chinese government payoffs, the invasion from the mainland has severely unsettled his political coalition. Further complicating matters for the incumbent is his inability to deal with religious intolerance in this largest Muslim nation.   While Widodo tries to use the specter of Islamic fundamentalism to his advantage, he is undercut by his own missteps and those of his followers.  The world continues to reel over the pernicious jailing in Widodo’s political base province of former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese and a Christian.  Purnama has been imprisoned only because he is a…

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