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Saudi Report on Murder of Journalist Khashoggi

Here is the press release from Saudi Arabia with its findings on its investigation into the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Washington Post reports:

[T]he prosecutor said Khashoggi was given a lethal injection by Saudi agents who had orders only to bring him to Saudi Arabia through persuasion or, if necessary, with force. His body was then dismembered, carried out of the consulate and disposed of by a Turkish contact, the prosecutor said. He offered no indication of where Khashoggi’s remains could be found.

The Treasury Department has announced sanctions on 17 Saudis. Saudi Arabia has said it will seek the death penalty for 5 of those charged in Khashoggi's murder. Neither country has placed any blame on the Crown Prince, notwithstanding: [More..]

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Turkish Chief Prosecutor: Khashoggi Strangled in Pre-meditated Killing

The Turkish Prosecutor's office has released a statement on its investigative findings of the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi: He was strangled shortly after entering the embassy and cut into small pieces. The statement says the killing was a pre-meditated hit.

"In accordance with plans made in advance, the victim, Jamal Khashoggi, was choked to death immediately after entering the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia." His body was then dismembered and destroyed "again, in line with advance plans", it added.

More on the statement here. Istanbul chief prosecutor Irfan Fidan met with Saudi prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb in Instanbul the past two days. Apparently, Turkey was not satisfied with the meeting. Fidan's statement said, "Despite all our well-intentioned efforts to the current stage uncovering the truth as the talks could not be achieved tangible results ". [More...]

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Saudis Admit Khashoggi Died Inside Turkish Consulate

Saudi Arabia has issued a statement acknowledging that journalist Jamal Khashoggi died inside the Turkish consulate. But they claim he died as the result of a fist-fight.

"An argument erupted between him [Khashoggi] and others whom he met in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul leading to a fist fight which led to his death," SPA reported.

"The investigations are still under way and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested," a statement from the Saudi public prosecutor said, adding royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Asiri were fired from their positions.

Here is the actual Saudi press release. The Saudis are firmly standing behind the Crown Prince. Here is a statement today from the Saudi Minister of Justice: [More...]

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Joaquin Castro Walks Back Kushner Allegations

Rep. Joaquin Castro , a member of the House Intelligence Committee, took to Twitter today to walk back his statements on CNN about Jared Kushner's possible providing of a hit list to the Saudi Crown Prince which included Jamal Kashoggi.

Castro, during a CNN appearance Friday morning, cited unspecified “reporting that Jared Kushner may have, with U.S. intelligence, delivered a hit list, an enemies list, to the crown prince, to MBS, in Saudi Arabia and that the prince may have acted on that, and one of the people he took action against is Mr. Khashoggi.”

While his statements on CNN yesterday were interpreted by many as a direct accusation against Jared Kushner, today Rep. Castro says he is only asking for an investigation based on media reporting. The reporting he cites today:

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Tape Sufaces of Torture of Journalist Kashoggi Inside Embassy

Jamal Kashoggi was tortured for seven minutes before he was beheaded inside the Saudi embassy in Instabul. The Saudi kill squad played loud music as they cut off his fingers. This is according to Turkish sources who have obtained the tape.

Saudi Consul Mohammed al-Otaibi can be heard on one tape saying during Khashoggi’s torture: “Do this outside. You are going to get me in trouble,” according to the paper, which did not reveal how it obtained the tapes.

The Turkish report on the tapes is here.

The source said Khashoggi was “dragged from the Consul General’s office at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and onto the table of his study next door. The screaming stopped when Khashoggi was injected with an as yet unknown substance. Head of forensic evidence in the Saudi general security department Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy began to cut Khashoggi’s body up on a table in the study while he was still alive. As he started to dismember the body, Tubaigy put on earphones and listened to music. He advised other members of the squad to do the same.”

A New York Times report is here. His body has not been found. One Turkish columnist thinks it may have been vaporized. He also writes that "some of the killers are personal guards of Prince Salman."

Apparently, the Prince had an "army of assassins", including contractors hired from a U.S. firm (former U.S. military). [More...]

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Colombia Elects a New President

Update: With 54% of the vote counted, right wing candidate Ivan Duque has been elected President of Colombia. Really disappointing. Both candidates had a female running mate. Marta Lucía Ramírez will be the first female VP of Colombia. (Had Petro won, the VP would have been Ángela María Robledo. As of the results so far, Duque won in Medellin by 500,000 votes while Petro won in Bogota by 400,000 votes.

Original Post:

Colombia voted in the runoff election today for President. Their choice is right-wing Ivan Duque or leftist Gustavo Petro, a former M-19 rebel and Mayor of Bogota. Harvard-educated Duque, who has the support of evangelicals and ultraconservatives that reject gay marriage and adoption, as well as uber-right former President Alvaro Uribe, and is a huge proponent of escalating the war on drugs, is favored to win. It's seen as a classic fight between right and left. [More...]

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A Beautiful Wedding

I woke up just in time to watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exchange vows and be proclaimed husband and wife. It was a very pretty ceremony with very nice music. The only thing I didn't see or hear was "You may kiss the bride."

Prince Charles and Camillia are there, as are Queen Elizabeth and Prince Andrew, and Prince William and Kate. I think the only other people I recognized are James Corden and his wife and George and Amal Clooney.

Meghan and Harry just re-entered the chapel and everyone sang "G-d Save the Queen." They just got outside to cheers and finally, they kiss. Meghan now is all smiles.

Congratulations to the happy couple, now to be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It's a gorgeous day in London, and the couple are now entering a horse drawn carriage and riding off to the acclaim of all. Princess Charlotte held a bouquet and waved them off, it was very cute.

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Cuba to Get New President, Miguel Diaz-Canel

Raul Castro is resigning as President of Cuba. His replacement (the sole nominee) will be First Vice President Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez.

Wednesday’s announcement confirms the long-held expectation that Diaz-Canel would take over from Castro in a transition meant to ensure that the country’s single-party system outlasts the aging revolutionaries who created it.

The nomination must be now approved by the 604 delegates attending the National Assembly, which always approves nominations with total or near-total unanimity.

Raul Castro will remain head of the Communist party. Diaz-Canel is expected to ensure that Cuba remains a one party system. He's no reformer.

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Ivanka Visits Japan

Ivanka Trump, the eldest daughter of Donald Trump, whose shoe factory in China has been reported for violating human rights, has traveled to Japan to speak at the country's “World Assembly of Women” conference.

Has her father become so unpopular that he needs Ivanka to grease the skids for him? He arrives two days later:

That visit will include a round of golf at a fancy country club and a banquet, but no headline speech. That job will fall instead to his daughter. Ivanka Trump will give a “special speech” on female entrepreneurship and women's participation in the economy.

Donald Trump's approval rating is at the lowest rate ever. Is he now using his model-ish looking daughter as a foil? [More...]

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Otto Warmbier Dies Days After Return from N. Korea

Otto Warmbier has died. His parents released this statement:

It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2:20pm.

...Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today. When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13th he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. He looked very uncomfortable — almost anguished. Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed — he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that.

I believe (and hope) he could sense it too. This is such a sad story and such an unnecessary death. [More...]

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London Bridge is Latest Attack Target

Three men in white van drove into passerbys at the London Bridge. London Bridge station has been shut down.

A second incident was reported at nearby Borough Market, where some men jumped out of a car and started randomly stabbing people.

Police say shots were fired and there is at least one fatality. A third incident (as yet undefined) occurred at the Vauxhall area of south London. London police say that was a stabbing but is unrelated to the first two incidents.

Here is the London police twitter feed. BBC is updating here. Here's a map.

The Daily Mail now has auto-play video. Buzzfeed for some reason includes in its news article what Donald Trump tweeted about this. Who cares? It has nothing to do with him. No links for either.

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Marine Le Pen Concedes Election to Winner Macron

France dodged a right-wing bullet by electing Emmanuel Macron. Marine Le Pen has conceded the race.

I heard earlier on the car radio that French turnout was high -- 77% or so. That may be considered high when compared to the U.S. which has hovered around 55%. But reports are that the French turnout was around 75%, lower than the past two French elections. Then again, this report has French turnout in 2012 at 71%. (Belgium had an 87.2 percent turnout rate in 2014, Turkey's was 84.3 percent in 2015, and Sweden's was 82.5 percent in 2014.)

Regardless, it was not a close race. Marcron won 65.% to Le Pen's 35%.

Lucky for France they don't have an electoral college.

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Death Toll Climbs From Colombian Mudslides

More than 250 people, including at least 60 children, have been killed by the huge mudslides in Mocoa, Colombia.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has been in Moca since yesterday, and he's tweeting continuous updates. The heads of dozens of countries have expressed their condolences to the people of Colombia. Many have offered aid, including China. One country prominently missing from Santos' twitter feed: the United States. Where's Donald Trump?

What does the State Department have to say about Colombia in its website and Twitter pages? Nothing so far. [More..]

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Ecuador Elections: Leftist Candidate Lenin Moreno Wins

Julian Assange is happy tonight. Leftist candidate Lenin Moreno has been declared the winner in Ecuador's presidential election. Moreno defeated right-wing ex-banker Guillermo Lasso. Earlier Sunday, dueling exit polls had each of them winning.

Here is Moreno's Twitter account.

Lasso sounds like a Trump clone. [More...]

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Germany Repeals Law Prohibiting Criticism of Foreign Leaders

Germany has repealed a law allowing prosecution of those who criticize foreign leaders. It takes effect 1/1/2018.

The Washington Posts suggests it's just in time for Donald Trump.

In related news, the Netherlands is proposing to start a fund for international groups offering abortion counseling, to circumvent Trump's plan: [More...]

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