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US national security adviser John Bolton in Russia to announce end to historic Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty

Posted on: October 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — U.S. national security adviser John Bolton has arrived in Moscow, where he is expected to tell Russian officials that America plans to withdraw from a historic nuclear arms treaty that dates to the Cold War.

Bolton met on Monday with the head of Russia’s National Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti reported, citing Patrushev’s press office. Later Bolton dined with foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, with Russia’s foreign ministry tweeting photographs of the U.S. delegation sitting at an elaborately laid table across from Russian officials.

Bolton is spending two days in Moscow, and is due to meet on Tuesday with Russia’s defense minister, Sergey Shoigu and later president Vladimir Putin. The trip is expected to be dominated by the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces or INF treaty.

President Donald Trump announced on Saturday that the U.S. will withdraw from the INF, saying Russia is in violation of the treaty. The announcement prompted strong criticism from arms control advocates, as well as former U.S. officials, who have said it removes an important safeguard and knocks out a symbolic pillar of post-Cold War trust between Russia and the U.S. at a moment when they are already locked in confrontation.

The INF was signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet Union’s leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, at a time when the leaders of the two superpowers were seeking to put an end to decades of tension. The treaty bans the U.S. and Russia from deploying all ground-launched nuclear and conventional missiles with ranges of 300 – 3,420 miles.

The agreement did away with thousands of missiles and was hailed as a stepping stone towards ending the Cold War. But for several years now the U.S. and Russia, have accused one another of violating the agreement. Starting under the Obama administration, the U.S. has alleged that Russia has been flouting part of the agreement by secretly developing and deploying a new cruise missile.

On Saturday, Trump cited violations when he declared the U.S. would now pull out of the treaty.

“They’ve been violating it for many years and I don’t know why President Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out,” Trump told reporters in Nevada.

“We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and do weapons and we’re not allowed to. We’re the ones that have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honored the agreement but Russia has not unfortunately honored the agreement so we’re going to pull out.”

Russia has long denied the U.S. accusations and has retorted by alleging a U.S. missile defense system in Europe also violates the treaty.

Since Trump’s announcement, Russian officials have criticized the decision to withdraw, saying it undermines the system of arms control that has regulated the two countries’ relations.

On Monday, as Bolton was meeting with Patrushev, the Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it would be seeking more detailed explanations from Bolton why the U.S. is leaving the treaty and “categorically” denied Russia is in violation. Peskov warned that Russia would have to take steps to “restore the balance” if the U.S. now began developing weapons banned under the treaty.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, ahead of meeting Bolton said that the U.S. so far had not triggered the six-month withdrawal mechanism that is built-in to the treaty.

The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the INF treaty is the first time the U.S. has abandoned a major arms treaty since President George W. Bush unilaterally exited the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty with Russia in 2002.

The decision has been met with a chorus of criticism from arms control advocates, as well as some former U.S. officials, who believe exiting the treaty frees Russia’s hand while giving the U.S. little in return.

Members of Trump’s own Republican party have also expressed alarm that it could unravel the decades-old international system of nuclear arms control, calling on the president to renegotiate rather than abandon the treaty. “I hope we’re not moving down the path to undo much of the nuclear arms control treaties that we have put in place,” Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on CNN on Sunday. “I think that would be a huge mistake.”

Mikhail Gorbachev, who signed the INF with Reagan, condemned Trump’s decision, saying on Sunday that “Washington has chosen the irresponsible path”. Gorbachev said the Russian and the U.S. governments must still try to salvage the agreement. “I think that train hasn’t left the station,” RIA Novosti quoted him as saying.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Two U.S. Navy warships sail through Taiwan Strait

Posted on: October 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(BEIJING) —  Two U.S. Navy warships sailed through the international waters of the Taiwan Strait on Monday, the body of water separating China and Taiwan, the island nation that China considers a breakaway province.

The transit could increase tensions between the U.S. and China as both countries are involved in a trade dispute and as the U.S. voices concerns over China’s militarization of the South China Sea.

“USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) and USS Antietam (CG 54) conducted a routine Taiwan Strait Transit on Oct. 22, in accordance with international law,” Cmdr. Nate Christensen, Deputy Spokesman, US Pacific Fleet. ”

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he added. “The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”

A similar transit by two U.S. destroyers occurred in July, the first time the Navy had carried out a mission like that in more than a year.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry first confirmed the transit in a statement.

“The Ministry of National Defense said today that two US ships have sailed from the south to the north through the Taiwan Strait,” said a translation of the statement.

“The Ministry of National Defense pointed out that the US ship routinely passed the international waters of the Taiwan Strait, and the relevant details were explained by the US government,” it added.

While the U.S. and China cooperate in denuclearizing North Korea, tensions have increased as both the U.S. and China have engaged in a trade war.

There are also tensions between the two countries over China’s growing military presence on man-made islands in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Earlier this month a Chinese Navy ship came within 45 yards of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Decatur as it carried out a freedom of navigation passage through international waters close to those islands.

Another irritant in the U.S.-China relationship continues to be U.S. support for Taiwan. The U.S. continues to sell military weapons to the island nation even though it does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. China maintains Taiwan is a breakaway province and not an independent nation.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump says migrant caravan includes ‘unknown Middle Easterners,’ offers no evidence

Posted on: October 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

He blamed Democrats for the Central American migrants hoping to reach the U.S.

Bob Dylan’s lyrics and art on display at new exhibit in London

Posted on: October 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Rob Kim/Getty Images(LONDON) — A new Bob Dylan exhibit has opened in London and features handwritten copies of some of his most famous songs.

Included in the Mondo Scripto exhibit, which opened in Halcyon Gallery on Oct. 9, are “The Times They Are A-Changin'” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Each song is accompanied by a drawing from the singer-songwriter.

“Mondo Scripto is a historical first,” Paul Green, president and owner of Halcyon Gallery, told ABC News. “It is the first time ever that Dylan has actually rewritten any of his lyrics.”

Some of the lyrics, however, have drastically changed. In “Tangled up in Blue,” the lyrics were rewritten for the exhibit.

“When he is sitting down, obviously it’s not 1962, it’s not 1970, it’s a different era, and he’s thinking again about the words and what they mean to him now and the drawings that are associated with them,” Green said.

Mondo Scripto also features Dylan’s sculptures, which were made in his studio in California. The exhibit, which will be in London through November, is set to travel to China and Japan in 2019 before eventually making its way to the U.S.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

5 dead, including 4 Americans, in Costa Rica rafting accident

Posted on: October 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN JOSE, Costa Rica) — Five people, including four Americans, died in a rafting accident in Costa Rica, authorities said.

The bodies of Ernesto Sierra, Jorge Caso, Sergio Lorenzo and Andres Denis were found Saturday evening, along with that of Kevin Thompson Reid, 45, a Costa Rican guide. The Americans were aged 25 to 35.

The four Americans were on a rafting tour that included 14 people on three rafts, all of which capsized Saturday afternoon. The remaining tourists and guides survived.

The case is being investigated, Marco Monge, a press officer for Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Organization, confirmed to ABC News.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Police in Mexico try to stop caravan of Central American migrants determined to reach the US

Posted on: October 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Twitter/@MattGutmanABC(TAPACHULA, Mexico) — A caravan of thousands of footsore Central American migrants who say they are seeking refuge from violence in their countries was moving north Sunday under the close watch of an army of Mexican federal police in riot gear.

Mexican officials said federal police were staying in front of the caravan, which stretched about two miles and comprised of mostly people from Honduras and Guatemala, many of whom say they are determined to reach the U.S. border 1,700 miles away.

Those Mexican officers, transported in a convoy of tour buses and joined by riot police from across the country, have announced they will not let the migrants pass a small town near the border.

“Full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing our Southern Border,” President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon. People have to apply for asylum in Mexico first, and if they fail to do that, the U.S. will turn them away. The courts are asking the U.S. to do things that are not doable!”

One woman in the caravan, Blanca, held tight to the arms of her two young sons as her teenage daughter walked beside them holding water bottles. Blanca told ABC News that she fled Honduras with her children after her husband was killed by gangs.

She said she would accept asylum in Mexico if officials there offered it to her, but her goal was to make it all the way to the U.S. border.

“My family is suffering right now, but what’s happening in Honduras is worse,” Blanca said.

The phalanx of police, supported by Mexican military Blackhawk helicopters overhead, was bracing for a repeat of the violent clashes that occurred on Friday when the caravan stormed and overran a crossing at the Suchiate River at the border of Guatemala and Mexico. Members of the caravan crossed into Mexico illegally by either forcing their way through a border fence or jumping into the river and swimming to the Mexico side.

“Donald Trump, we don’t want to cause you any problem, we just want to get a job. Help us,” one young migrant told ABC News as he and hundreds of others walked along a road near Tapachula, Mexico.

Many in the caravan demonstrated that they still had pride in the respective countries they were fleeing by holding the flags of Honduras and Guatemala as they walked.

Among the thousands of migrants are families; fathers and mothers carrying sweating children on their shoulders, shielding them from the ferocious sun. ABC News saw at least one toddler splayed out on the highway sleeping, his father too tired to go on.

Most people were carrying small backpacks and plastic bags. They walked on battered shoes, some were barefoot.

As the migrants walked through villages, local residents came out of their houses to offer food and water. Occasionally, passing motorists would offer rides to the tired migrants, as many had been walking since 4 a.m Sunday.

“God will help us,” one exhausted 20-year-old Honduran mother carrying her toddler son told ABC News as the temperature rose to 87 degrees by midday.

In a series of tweets last week, President Trump threatened to “call up the U.S. military and close our SOUTHERN BORDER” if Mexico doesn’t do anything to stop the flow of migrants.

In late April and early May, a much smaller migrant caravan made it all the way to the U.S.-Mexico border, but only a handful of the asylum seekers were processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Trump was critical of the caravan and in a series of tweets slammed “Democrat-inspired laws on sanctuary cities” for encouraging such a journey.

“Are you watching that mess that’s going on right now with the caravan coming up? Are you watching this and our laws are so weak, they’re, so pathetic?” Trump said at a rally on April 28 in Michigan.

Trump continued on Sunday to blame Democrats.

“The Caravans are a disgrace to the Democrat Party,” the president tweeted on Sunday. “Change the immigration laws NOW!”

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement Sunday morning that she and other U.S. officials are monitoring the caravan’s progress and are concerned about criminals infiltrating the group.

“While we closely monitor the caravan crisis, we must remain mindful of the transnational criminal organizations and other criminals that prey on the vulnerabilities of those undertaking the irregular migration journey,” Nielsen said in her statement.

“We shall work with our partners in the region to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all who seek to encourage and profit from irregular migration,” Nielsen said. “We fully support the efforts of Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, as they seek to address this critical situation and ensure a safer and more secure region.”

Most of the migrants ABC News spoke to said they wanted to march all the way to the U.S.

Maria Juaqina, 19, was carrying her toddler. She said she has family in Los Angeles, and that “only God can open the doors.”

Mexico said it’s willing to open its doors, temporarily. Mexican police officials used bullhorns Sunday to warn the migrants they were illegally proceeding north. The migrants were advised to apply for asylum in order to get temporary status to legally stay in Mexico.

“You cannot go all around the country like this,” officials on bullhorns shouted. “You can go to immigration camps or shelters, so we can establish your cases.”

Mexican asylum status grants migrants a 45-day stay in the country.

Many in the caravan told ABC News that they feared being deported if they voluntarily went to a shelter or immigration camp. Some were demanding proof that they will not be returned home.

Some migrants like Gonzalo Martinez, a farmer from Guatemala, heeded warnings from authorities and decided to return home after witnessing Friday’s clashes at the Guatemalan border. Mexican police unleashed pepper spray on the caravan but failed to turn the migrants back.

“We thought the caravan was passive but there were unruly people,” Martinez, 37, told the Associated Press. “I was disappointed.”

He said he was attempting to escape violent gangs in Guatemala.

“They killed some relatives; they shot my father and they also tried to kill me,” Martinez told the AP.

The Mexican Interior Ministry said on Saturday that 640 Honduran migrants have requested refuge in Mexico.

The ministry also said that priority would be given to “164 women, some of them in advanced stage of pregnancy; 104 girls, boys and teenagers, who are from 3 months old to 17 years old; as well as older adults who have varying degrees of disability. This group includes a minor who traveled alone.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Khashoggi died when he was put in a chokehold to prevent him from calling for help

Posted on: October 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Omar Shagaleh/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(ISTANBUL, Turkey) — A Saudi official has told ABC News that Jamal Khashoggi was killed when he was “placed in a chokehold position” to prevent him from leaving the country’s consulate in Turkey and calling for help.

The evolving explanation comes 19 days after Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who had been critical of his country’s current government, disappeared on Oct. 2 after going into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Once Khashoggi was reported missing, the Saudi government initially said Khashoggi had come out of the consulate the same day, and denied any involvement in his disappearance.

Two weeks later, on Friday, the country’s public prosecutor said an initial investigation revealed that discussions between Khashoggi and the individuals who met with him at the consulate led to an argument and a fist fight, which resulted in the journalist’s death, according to the Arabic report in the Saudi Press Agency.

The Saudi official on Sunday told ABC News that Khashoggi’s body was given to a “local cooperator” in Istanbul for disposal. “Investigation into this continues,” the official said.

The whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body remain unknown.

Fifteen Saudis, members of the team sent to Turkey to meet with Khashoggi in the consulate in Istanbul, are among those who have been detained by the Saudi public prosecutor, according to the official.

“All the 15 team members are among those detained,” the official said. “I don’t have the names at this time.”

The official also told ABC News that five Saudi intelligence chiefs, who were relieved of their duties in connection to Khashoggi’s death, are not currently suspects in the investigation, even though they were “part of the chain of command of the operation” and that “the operational orders … were written in such a way as to contribute to the series of events that led to the tragic death.”

Turkish officials have claimed that a team of 15 Saudi men, including one who was identified by the press as an autopsy doctor, flew to Turkey specifically to kill Khashoggi at the consulate.

The Trump administration has strongly denied a claim that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was played an audio recording and provided a transcript of Khashoggi’s killing.

Eighteen Saudi citizens were detained by the Saudi government in connection with Khashoggi’s killing, according to Saudi Arabia’s state-run news agency.

Several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists, have called for the U.N. to investigate Khashoggi’s death.

After speaking with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, President Trump suggested that Khashoggi was targeted by “rogue killers.” Earlier this week, Trump said that there would be “severe consequences” if it is found that the Saudis murdered Khashoggi, and on Friday the president said that Saudi’s announcement that it had suspects in custody was “a good first step.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and several international business leaders, have pulled out of a major investment forum in Saudi Arabia scheduled to begin next week called the Future Investment Initiative.

Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia in 2017, and had recently been living in the U.S. where he served as an opinion columnist for The Washington Post newspaper, writing critically of the Saudi royal family and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, and warning of efforts to stifle the free press in the Middle East.

Khashoggi’s final column in for the newspaper, published Oct. 17 was titled: “What the Arab world needs most is free expression.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Khashoggi died when he was put in a chokehold to prevent him from calling for help

Posted on: October 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Omar Shagaleh/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(ISTANBUL, Turkey) — A Saudi official has told ABC News that Jamal Khashoggi was killed when he was “placed in a chokehold position” to prevent him from leaving the country’s consulate in Turkey and calling for help.

The evolving explanation comes 19 days after Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who had been critical of his country’s current government, disappeared on Oct. 2 after going into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Once Khashoggi was reported missing, the Saudi government initially said Khashoggi had come out of the consulate the same day, and denied any involvement in his disappearance.

Two weeks later, on Friday, the country’s public prosecutor said an initial investigation revealed that discussions between Khashoggi and the individuals who met with him at the consulate led to an argument and a fist fight, which resulted in the journalist’s death, according to the Arabic report in the Saudi Press Agency.

The Saudi official on Sunday told ABC News that Khashoggi’s body was given to a “local cooperator” in Istanbul for disposal. “Investigation into this continues,” the official said.

The whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body remain unknown.

Fifteen Saudis, members of the team sent to Turkey to meet with Khashoggi in the consulate in Istanbul, are among those who have been detained by the Saudi public prosecutor, according to the official.

“All the 15 team members are among those detained,” the official said. “I don’t have the names at this time.”

The official also told ABC News that five Saudi intelligence chiefs, who were relieved of their duties in connection to Khashoggi’s death, are not currently suspects in the investigation, even though they were “part of the chain of command of the operation” and that “the operational orders … were written in such a way as to contribute to the series of events that led to the tragic death.”

Turkish officials have claimed that a team of 15 Saudi men, including one who was identified by the press as an autopsy doctor, flew to Turkey specifically to kill Khashoggi at the consulate.

The Trump administration has strongly denied a claim that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was played an audio recording and provided a transcript of Khashoggi’s killing.

Eighteen Saudi citizens were detained by the Saudi government in connection with Khashoggi’s killing, according to Saudi Arabia’s state-run news agency.

Several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists, have called for the U.N. to investigate Khashoggi’s death.

After speaking with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, President Trump suggested that Khashoggi was targeted by “rogue killers.” Earlier this week, Trump said that there would be “severe consequences” if it is found that the Saudis murdered Khashoggi, and on Friday the president said that Saudi’s announcement that it had suspects in custody was “a good first step.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and several international business leaders, have pulled out of a major investment forum in Saudi Arabia scheduled to begin next week called the Future Investment Initiative.

Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia in 2017, and had recently been living in the U.S. where he served as an opinion columnist for The Washington Post newspaper, writing critically of the Saudi royal family and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, and warning of efforts to stifle the free press in the Middle East.

Khashoggi’s final column in for the newspaper, published Oct. 17 was titled: “What the Arab world needs most is free expression.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Police in Mexico try to stop caravan of migrants determined to reach the US

Posted on: October 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A caravan of migrants was moving north Sunday after bypassing a Mexican border.

Khashoggi died from chokehold to prevent him from calling for help: Saudi official

Posted on: October 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A Saudi official has told ABC News that Jamal Khashoggi was killed when he was “placed in a chokehold position” to prevent him from leaving the country’s consulate.

US general was wounded in Kandahar attack

Posted on: October 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

National Guard(KANDAHAR, Afghanistan) — Army Brigadier General Jeffrey D. Smiley was the wounded U.S. service member shot in Thursday’s insider attack in Kandahar that killed two top Afghan officials in the province. The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan was also present during the attack, but was unharmed.

“I can confirm that General Smiley is recovering from a gunshot wound,” Lt. Cmdr. Grant Neeley, a spokesman for Resolute Support, the NATO-led training command in Afghanistan, told ABC News.

“He is being treated at a Resolute Support hospital in Kandahar,” said Neeley.

Smiley is the commander of the Training and Advise and Assist Command-South (TAAC-South) that has the lead in advising Afghan security forces in southern Afghanistan. He is a general with the California National Guard, in command of the Guard’s 40th Infantry, which is one of the lead units in Kandahar.

The identity of the U.S. service member injured in the attack had not been disclosed until Sunday after it was first reported by the Washington Post.

Carried out by a gunman wearing an Afghan security uniform, Thursday’s attack killed the top police official in Kandahar Province as well as the province’s top intelligence official. The governor of Kandahar was also wounded, as was another American civilian employee and an Afghan interpreter.

The gunman was shot almost immediately after opening fire.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Police in Mexico try to head off caravan of migrants determined to reach the US

Posted on: October 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A caravan of migrants was moving north Sunday after bypassing a Mexican border.

Police in Mexico try to head off caravan of Central American migrants determined to reach the US

Posted on: October 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Matt Gutman/ABC News(TAPACHULA, Mexico) — A caravan of thousands of footsore Central American migrants who say they are seeking refuge from violence in their countries was moving north Sunday under the close watch of an army of Mexican federal police in riot gear.

Mexican officials said federal police were staying in front of the caravan, which stretched about two miles and comprised mostly of people from Honduras and Guatemala many of whom say they are determined to reach the U.S. border 1,700 miles away.

Those officers, transported in a convoy of tour buses and reinforced with riot police from across the country, have announced they will not let the migrants pass a small town near the border.

“Full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing [the border],” President Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon. People have to apply for asylum in Mexico first, and if they fail to do that, the U.S. will turn them away. The courts are asking the U.S. to do things that are not doable!”

The phalanx of police, supported by Mexican military Blackhawk helicopters overhead, was bracing for a repeat of the violent clashes that occurred on Friday when the caravan stormed and overran a crossing at the Suchiate River at the border of Guatemala and Mexico. Members of the caravan crossed into Mexico illegally by either forcing their way through a border fence or jumping into the river and swimming to the Mexico side.

“Donald Trump, we don’t want to cause you any problem, we just want to get a job. Help us,” one young migrant told ABC News as he and hundreds of others walked along a road near Tapachula, Mexico.

Among the thousands of migrants are families. Fathers and mothers carrying sweating children on their shoulders, shielding them from the ferocious sun with blankets or their hands. ABC News saw at least one toddler splayed out on the highway sleeping, his father too tired to go on.

Most were carrying small backpacks and plastic bags. They moved forward on battered shoes, some were barefoot.

In a series of tweets last week, President Donald Trump threatened to “call up the U.S. military and close our SOUTHERN BORDER” if Mexico doesn’t do anything to stop the flow of migrants.

In late April and early May, a much smaller migrant caravan made it all the way to the U.S.-Mexico border, but only a handful of the asylum seekers were processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Trump was critical of the caravan and in a series of tweets slammed “Democrat-inspired laws on sanctuary cities” for encouraging such disparate activities.

“Are you watching that mess that’s going on right now with the caravan coming up? Are you watching this and our laws are so weak, they’re, so pathetic?” Trump said at a rally on April 28 in Michigan.

Trump continued on Sunday to blame Democrats.

“The Caravans are a disgrace to the Democrat Party,” the president tweeted on Sunday. “Change the immigration laws NOW!”

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement Sunday morning that she and other U.S. officials are monitoring the caravan’s progress and are concerned about criminals infiltrating the group.

“While we closely monitor the caravan crisis, we must remain mindful of the transnational criminal organizations and other criminals that prey on the vulnerabilities of those undertaking the irregular migration journey,” Nielsen said in her statement.

“We shall work with our partners in the region to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all who seek to encourage and profit from irregular migration,” Nielsen said. “We fully support the efforts of Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, as they seek to address this critical situation and ensure a safer and more secure region.”

Most of the migrants ABC News spoke to say they want to march all the way to the United States.

Maria Juaqina, 19, was toting her toddler. She says she has family in Los Angeles, and that “only God can open the doors.”

Mexico says it’s willing to open its doors, temporarily. Mexican police officials used bullhorns Sunday to warn the migrants they were illegally proceeding north. The migrants were advised to apply for asylum in order to get temporary status to legally stay in Mexico.

“You cannot go all around the country like this,” the officials on bullhorns shouted at the movable mass of humanity. “You can go to immigration camps or shelters, so we can establish your cases.”

Mexican asylum status grants migrants a 45-day stay.

Many in the caravan told ABC News that they feared being deported if they voluntarily went to a shelter or immigration camp. Some were demanding proof that they will not be returned home.

The Mexican Interior Ministry said on Saturday that 640 Honduran migrants have requested refuge in Mexico.

The ministry also said that priority would be given to “164 women, some of them in advanced stage of pregnancy; 104 girls, boys and teenagers, who are from 3 months old to 17 years old; as well as older adults who have varying degrees of disability. This group includes a minor  who traveled alone.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Republicans trumpet pre-existing condition protections despite voting record

Posted on: October 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — In the final weeks of the 2018 midterm campaign, Republican candidates across the country have released ads touting concerns about maintaining protections for people with pre-existing conditions, even as their party and the current administration have moved repeatedly to weaken the anti-pricing discrimination laws.

In more than 20 competitive districts from California to North Carolina, Republicans in tight federal House and Senate races have released new television and digital ad spots that look similar to one from Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio.

“Steve Chabot is fighting to help reduce health care premiums by up to 30 percent and guarantee that people with pre-existing conditions have access to quality care,” the advertisement states.

But, like many Republicans, Chabot voted repeatedly to roll back the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — at one point co-sponsoring a 2013 bill to repeal the health care law, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions that prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage based on a previous diagnosis.

Chabot also voted in favor of the 2017 American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican bill intended to replace the ACA.

The AHCA failed to pass in the Senate, but would have eliminated premium limits on those with pre-existing conditions set under the ACA, often referred to as “Obamacare.”

Though those with pre-existing conditions would not have been denied coverage outright, an analysis by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that more than 6 million people who fall into that category would likely face higher premiums and surcharges under the Republican plan.

“Republicans have voted consistently to protect those with pre-existing conditions, and Democrats saying otherwise are not telling the truth,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson Matt Gorman in a statement to ABC News.

Democrats argue that the claims in the Republicans’ ads, including Chabot’s, are misleading. While the AHCA would have prevented insurers from limiting access to those with pre-existing conditions, the increasing costs could have unintentionally forced many off their plans anyway, health care experts warned.

“Democrats have used facts to aggressively define the terms of the health care debate,” said Molly Mitchell, spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Facing the toughest re-elections of their careers, House Republicans have resorted to outright lies about their health care records.”

According to data gathered by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and confirmed by ABC News, the following Republicans in competitive races — Chabot included — all voted to repeal the ACA and pass the ACHA, but have also, in the final months of their midterm campaigns, released ads targeted to people with pre-existing conditions:

  • Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill.
  • Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.
  • Rep. John Faso, R-N.Y.
  • Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio
  • Rep. George Holding, R-N.C.
  • Rep. French Hill, R-Ark.
  • Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.
  • Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Pa.
  • Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas
  • Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan.
  • Rep. David Young, R-Iowa

Several others have made similar claims in interviews and debates, according to ABC News research.

On Chabot’s campaign website, the congressman asserts that “the American people deserve better than Obamacare,” arguing that “costs continue to skyrocket and far too many people are unable to purchase coverage for their families.”

But when his health care issue statement pivots to note that his supported legislation “guaranteed coverage with pre-existing conditions,” it says nothing of the associated projected cost increases.

“The goal of the Republican plan is to bring insurance premiums down,” wrote Chabot in a May 2017 blog post.

In addition to legislation in Congress, the Trump administration, too, has made it easier for insurance companies to discriminate against people based on medical history.

One such action includes a move to extend the sale of short-term insurance policies, specifically limited by the Obama administration. The short-term plans are not subject to the same regulations and requirements as other, longer-term insurance plans, meaning that not only can those with pre-existing conditions be denied access to these plans outright, but by taking people without previous medical diagnoses out of the larger market, those with conditions who need more fulsome insurance will likely see a hike in their rates.

Republicans argue that the changes are acts of deregulation, intended to wrest control of the industry from the federal government’s hands and allow for more competition.

“Restoring consumer choice… would provide more affordable alternatives and allow for consumer options in the event individuals in that market develop illnesses,” wrote a group of 35 Republican senators, led by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., in a letter to Trump cabinet officials this summer encouraging the change.

Earlier this month, Democratic senators forced a vote to try and stop the administration from expanding the sale of these short-term plans, but the proposition failed in a 50-50 vote along party lines. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was the only Republican to vote with Democrats on the issue.

According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 82 percent of Americans consider health care to be a top-tier issue for them this election cycle, and by a margin of 53-35, voters say they trust Democrats more on the issue.

The Trump administration also supported several states this year in a lawsuit filed against the federal government claiming that parts of the current Obamacare law are unconstitutional — including, specifically, the protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Josh Hawley, the current attorney general of Missouri and the state’s Republican candidate for Senate, is one of 20 GOP state officials who joined a federal lawsuit earlier this year that could end Obamacare and those protections. Hawley, like many Republican House candidates, has come under considerable attack this month for a last-minute health care ad that shows him with his family.

“Earlier this year we learned that our oldest [son] has a rare chronic disease, a pre-existing condition. We know what that is like,” Hawley says in the ad. “I support forcing insurance companies to cover all pre-existing conditions.”

The ad prompted some rebukes when it first aired.

“Republicans have never lacked for chutzpah, which is what it takes to file a lawsuit intended to take away protections for pre-existing conditions, and then run a soft-focus ad about how committed you are to protecting those with pre-existing conditions,” Washington Post opinion writer, Paul Waldman, wrote last month.

Hawley, like some other Republicans, has argued that protections for afflicted groups and the continued enforcement of the ACA are not mutually exclusive.

“We don’t have to have Obamacare in order to cover people with pre-existing conditions,” Hawley told reporters as he defended the balancing act on a press call earlier this month. He added he had no regrets about being a part of the lawsuit.

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Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff: Trump will accept Saudi ‘crown prince’s denials’

Posted on: October 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said he expects President Trump to ultimately accept Saudi Arabia’s denials of the crown prince’s involvement in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday, “I think we can see where this is headed. Ultimately, the president is going to accept the crown prince’s denials, but it’s hard for me to imagine that these orders would have been carried out without the knowledge of” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“I think this ought to be a relationship-altering event for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia,” Schiff added.

Both Schiff and a fellow committee member — Congressman Peter King, R-N.Y., who also appeared on This Week — said the Saudis’ latest explanation that Khashoggi died in a fight at the country’s consulate in Istanbul early this month was not believable.

“I can tell you I don’t find this Saudi account credible at all,” Schiff said. “There’s simply no way they dispatched a team this large and that Khashoggi engaged in some kind of a brawl with them unless he was merely fighting for his life.”

“They could have brought him down in a matter of seconds without causing any physical harm at all,” King added. “So obviously there was an intent, I believe, to kill him.”

The two congressmen also agreed that the U.S. should take action against Saudi Arabia in response to Khashoggi’s death.

“Let me make it clear: I think the Saudis are the most amoral government that we’ve ever had to deal with,” King said. “What Saudi Arabia did was savage, was evil” and needs “to be condemned.”

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was critical of the country’s current government, has not been seen since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Saudi Arabia initially contended he had left the consulate the same day, but its government changed its story on Friday and said Khashoggi, who has been living in the U.S. and serving as a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed in the consulate after an argument led to a fistfight. The Saudis also said Khashoggi was interested in returning to Saudi Arabia, something his close friends have denied.

Five top Saudi government officials have been fired and 18 Saudi citizens detained in connection to Khashoggi’s murder, according to the country’s state-run news agency.

Khashoggi’s editor at The Washington Post said on This Week that she believes that the Saudi response is an effort to cover up what happened rather than to shed light on the incident.

“I still believe, and the Post as an institution still believes, that this is not an explanation; this is an attempt at a cover-up,” said Washington Post Global Opinions Editor Karen Attiah. “So much doesn’t add up for me personally, who knew Jamal, worked with Jamal over the last year.”

She said key elements of the Saudi story, including that Khashoggi wanted to return to Saudi Arabia and engaged in a brawl at the consulate run, counter to everything she knew about him.

“This idea that he wanted to return to Saudi Arabia is absolutely untrue. There is a reason why he came to Washington and felt free in Washington,” Attiah said. “This idea that a brawl, you know, this man who is kind and calm and gentle, that any sort of brawl took place that was equal — if anything, if we’re going to give any sort of credence to this, he walked into an ambush that was set up for him.”

On Saturday, President Trump, in a phone interview with the Post, criticized the Saudi government’s explanation of Khashoggi’s death, telling the paper, “Obviously there’s been deception, and there’s been lies.”

While the president cast doubt on the country’s changing narrative surrounding the columnist’s death, he also told the Post that Saudi Arabia is an “incredible ally” and was undecided on whether the crown prince had a role in Khashoggi’s killing, saying, “Nobody has told me he’s responsible. Nobody has told me he’s not responsible.”

Schiff told Stephanopoulos on Sunday, “We’re never going to know exactly what took place in terms of the crown prince’s marching orders for this group unless we get a confession from the crown prince, which is not going to happen.”

Schiff added that he believes the Trump family implicitly sent a message to the Saudi royal family prior to Khashoggi’s killing that it could act with impunity.

“I think part of why we are where we are is that we have essentially delivered a message through the Trump family that it’s carte blanche for the Saudi family. They can do what they want, where they want — and the U.S. will never stand up to them,” Schiff said. “That kind of a policy has got to come to an end.”

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Human rights groups call for UN to investigate killing of Saudi journalist

Posted on: October 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chris McGrath/Getty Images(ISTANBUL) — Several of the largest human rights organizations in the world are calling for a U.N. investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The groups, including Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders, called for Turkey to push the U.N. to begin an investigation into Khashoggi’s death, which took place at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Khashoggi, a regular critic of the Saudi royal family, worked as a columnist for The Washington Post. He had been living in the United States after fleeing Saudi Arabia in September 2017.

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor announced Friday that an initial investigation revealed that discussions between Khashoggi and the individuals who met with him at the consulate led to an argument and a fist fight — which resulted in the journalist’s death, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Turkish officials have said 15 Saudi men flew to Turkey for the express interest of meeting Khashoggi at the consulate, where he was visiting to fill out paperwork for his impending marriage. His fiancée was waiting in a car outside the consulate at the time of his killing.

Saudi Arabia initially denied any involvement in the journalist’s disappearance, before announcing the findings of the investigation on Friday. The county said 18 people were detained in connection with Khashoggi’s killing and several top officials were dismissed from their positions.

The handful of human rights organizations are calling for an independent investigation to avoid a “Saudi whitewash” of the facts.

“Turkey should enlist the U.N. to initiate a timely, credible and transparent investigation,” Robert Mahoney, deputy executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement released by Amnesty International. “U.N. involvement is the best guarantee against a Saudi whitewash or attempts by other governments to sweep the issue under the carpet to preserve lucrative business ties with Riyadh.”

There was no mention of President Trump or the U.S. in the press release, though Trump seemed to accept denials from Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and King Salman earlier in the week.

He told reporters on Friday that he found the Saudi investigation “credible.”

Trump also denied having any business ties to Saudi Arabia, though he actually bragged publicly about Saudis buying properties he owns at a rally in August 2015.

The president walked back some of the apparent willingness to believe the Saudi ruling family in an interview with The Washington Post late Saturday.

He told the Post there has been “deception” and “lies” by the Saudis.

A friend of Khashoggi described a much more brutal killing of Khashoggi than the official account given by Saudi Arabia.

“I talked with some Turkish government and security officials, and they said Jamal was killed. I didn’t know what to do. I really couldn’t answer. Then I called a few colleagues — again, security officials — trying to have them verify it, saying, ‘Is this really true?'” his friend Turan Kislakci told ABC News on Wednesday. “They said, ‘Yes, Turan, and let’s tell you even beyond that, he was killed in a very barbaric way.’ I was shocked. They not only kill him in the consulate, but also in a barbaric way.”

Amnesty International cited the 2008 investigation into the murder of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as setting precedent for the U.N. to get involved in the Khashoggi killing.

“An investigation into Khashoggi’s enforced disappearance and possible murder should start promptly and be thorough, impartial, and independent,” Amnesty International wrote. “U.N. Secretary-General [António] Guterres should appoint a senior criminal investigator with extensive experience in international investigations to head the team. Once the investigation is concluded, the secretary-general should issue a public report on the overall findings along with his recommendations for following up.”

The U.N. said Guterres was “deeply troubled” by the journalist’s killing in a statement issued by a spokesman on Friday, but did not commit to an investigation specifically by the U.N.

“The secretary-general is deeply troubled by the confirmation of the death of Jamal Khashoggi. He extends his condolences to Mr. Khashoggi’s family and friends,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the secretary-general, said. “The secretary-general stresses the need for a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Khashoggi’s death and full accountability for those responsible.”

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Migrant caravan swells to 5,000, resumes advance toward US

Posted on: October 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the border, a growing caravan of Central American migrants has resumed its advance toward the U.S. border

Migrant caravan swells to 5,000 resumes advance toward US

Posted on: October 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the border, a growing caravan of Central American migrants has resumed its advance toward the U.S. border

Kensington Palace: Duchess Meghan to ‘cut back’ on grueling schedule

Posted on: October 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images(LONDON) — Duchess Meghan will be cutting back on several engagements on the couple’s grueling 16-day Royal Tour.

“After a busy programme, the Duke and Duchess have decided to cut back the Duchess’ schedule slightly for the next couple of days, ahead of the final week-and-a-half of the tour,” Kensington Palace announced in a statement on Saturday evening, or Sunday morning in Sydney, Australia.

“The Duke will attend the cycling as scheduled this morning, and the Duchess will join him for this afternoon’s engagements,” the statement continued. “The Duke will continue with the engagements on Fraser Island,” a reference to an island off the eastern coast of Australia, near Brisbane.

The Duchess of Sussex was expected to attend the Invictus Games cycling events in Sydney, but pulled out because she was tired.

The couple announced the Duchess’ pregnancy at the start of their four-nation tour last Monday. She is believed to be about 14 weeks along in her pregnancy.

A source told ABC News that “she’s feeling fine but resting.”

Harry and Meghan had a very late night after the Invictus Games opening ceremony was delayed due to an electrical storm.

Earlier this week, Meghan revealed that she gets up at 4:30 a.m. to do yoga — noting that it was “so good for healing your mind.”

She also talked about how she does yoga daily, and how being pregnant was “like having jet lag without actually traveling.”

Meghan will be traveling to Fraser Island but is not expected to participate in any engagements while Harry carries on with the original schedule.

Kensington Palace has not clarified to date whether the Duchess will carry on her full itinerary at upcoming stops in Fiji and Tonga.

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Human rights groups call for UN to investigate killing of Saudi journalist

Posted on: October 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2.

Migrants vow to re-form caravan, continue north toward US

Posted on: October 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

For second straight day refused mass entry to a caravan of Central Americans.

DHS secretary praises Mexican police for handling of migrant caravan

Posted on: October 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

DHS Secretary Kristjen Nielsen tweeted about her support for her Mexican partners as the caravan moving through Central America started entering Mexico on Saturday.

DHS secretary praises Mexican police for handling caravan migrants ‘in a professional and humane manner’

Posted on: October 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

John Moore/Getty Images(TECUN UMAN, Guatemala) — As the caravan of Central American migrants enters Mexico, a senior Trump administration official praised the Mexican police for their handling of the “crisis on their southern border.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen tweeted that DHS would continue “to support our Mexican partners as they take steps to confront the crisis on their southern border. The Mexican federal police are handling this in a professional and humane manner.”

She added in a subsequent tweet that she has been in “constant contact” with her foreign counterparts in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, and that her department was monitoring the situation and ready to provide assistance if necessary.

Thousands of migrants reached the Guatemala-Mexico border on Friday, breaking through a fence on the Guatemala side of a bridge separating the two countries. On the Mexican side of the bridge, they were met by Mexican police in riot gear. Others, meanwhile, waded into the Suchiate River or took rafts to get to Mexico.

Many of the migrants are seeking refugee status in either Mexico or the United States.

The Mexican Interior Ministry said on Saturday that 640 Honduran migrants have requested refuge in Mexico. It also said that priority attention would be given “164 women, some of them in advanced stage of pregnancy; 104 girls, boys and teenagers, who are from 3 months old to 17 years old; as well as older adults who have varying degrees of disability. This group includes a minor who traveled alone.”

President Trump threatened in a series of tweets on Thursday to “call up the U.S. military and close our SOUTHERN BORDER” if Mexico doesn’t do anything to stop the flow of migrants moving north.

The president also blamed Democrats at a rally on Friday night in Arizona for the illegal border crossings.

Yet, it seems that Mexico will continue to process migrants. The Interior Ministry said in its statement that migrants will begin the refugee application process at the country’s National Institute of Migration, where their data will be collected, before they are sent to shelters that have been “enabled for their accommodation.”

The Mexican government also released handout video of migrants on a bus being told by an official that they would be assisted in being processed for any asylum claims they may have.

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Mexico slowly processes caravan migrants at Guatemala border

Posted on: October 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

For second straight day refused mass entry to a caravan of Central Americans.

Train mows down crowd at India festival, at least 60 dead

Posted on: October 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A speeding train ran over a crowd watching fireworks during a religious festival in northern India on Friday, killing at least 60 people

18 Saudi citizens detained in connection with murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Posted on: October 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A fight inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey led to Khashoggi’s death, officials said in a statement.

Saudi state media says Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a fist fight

Posted on: October 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Saudi state-run news agency quotes prosecutors as saying that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi hadn’t been seen since entering the consulate nearly three weeks ago. The Saudi public prosecutor said that an argument between Khashoggi and a number of individuals at the consulate led to a fight.

Those named in the report include several top Saudi intelligence officials, and one person named as a Royal Court advisor.

The Saudi Press Agency tweeted that the following top officials were relieved of their positions:

  • Ahmad bin Hassan Assiri – deputy chief of General Intelligence agency
  • Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Rumeh – deputy director of General Intelligence for intelligence matters
  • Abdullah bin Khalif Al-Shaya – deputy head of General Intelligence for human resources
  • Maj. Gen. Rashad bin Hamed al-Mahmadi – head of the General Directorate for Security and Protection in the General Intelligence agency
  • Saud bin Abdullah Al-Kahtani – advisor to the royal court

Eighteen people have been detained in connection with the case.

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18 Saudi citizens detained in connection with murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi: Report

Posted on: October 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images(NEW YORK) —  Eighteen Saudi citizens have been detained in connection with the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Saudi Arabia’s state-run news agency.

Khashoggi disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

An initial investigation has revealed that discussions between Khashoggi and the individuals who met with him at the consulate led to an argument and a fist fight — which resulted in the journalist’s death — Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said in a statement, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Investigators are working to hold those involved with Khashoggi’s death responsible, according to the statement.

Turkish officials have claimed that a group of 15 Saudi men flew to Istanbul at the time of Khashoggi’s disappearance.

At least one of the suspects traveled to Istanbul for the purpose of meeting with Khashoggi, according to a statement from the Saudi Press Agency. The suspects then attempted to “conceal and cover” what happened, the statement read.

Khashoggi, an opinion columnist for The Washington Post, has written critically of Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi government.

The White House acknowledged the Saudis’ announcement, stating that it would “continue to closely follow the international investigations into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent, and in accordance with all due process.

“We are saddened to hear confirmation of Mr. Khashoggi’s death, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family, fiancée, and friends,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in the statement.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump cautioned against blaming Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s disappearance but told reporters Thursday that “it certainly looks like” he was dead.

Saudi Arabia had denied news reports that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, but pressure has been building on the Saudi government more than two weeks to explain what happened to him after he entered the consulate earlier this month.

On Friday evening, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham – a key ally of President Donald Trump – posted a tweet registering his skepticism of the Saudi government’s latest account of what happened to Khashoggi.

“To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement. First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement. Now, a fight breaks out and he’s killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince.”

Khashoggi had warned of renewed efforts to silence free press in the Middle East, and his final column, titled, “What the Arab world needs most is free expression,” was published on Wednesday.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

18 Saudi citizens detained in connection with murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi: Report

Posted on: October 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images(NEW YORK) —  Eighteen Saudi citizens have been detained in connection with the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Saudi Arabia’s state-run news agency.

Khashoggi disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

An initial investigation has revealed that discussions between Khashoggi and the individuals who met with him at the consulate led to an argument and a fist fight — which resulted in the journalist’s death — Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said in a statement, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Investigators are working to hold those involved with Khashoggi’s death responsible, according to the statement.

Turkish officials have claimed that a group of 15 Saudi men flew to Istanbul at the time of Khashoggi’s disappearance.

At least one of the suspects traveled to Istanbul for the purpose of meeting with Khashoggi, according to a statement from the Saudi Press Agency. The suspects then attempted to “conceal and cover” what happened, the statement read.

Khashoggi, an opinion columnist for The Washington Post, has written critically of Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi government.

The White House acknowledged the Saudis’ announcement, stating that it would “continue to closely follow the international investigations into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent, and in accordance with all due process.

“We are saddened to hear confirmation of Mr. Khashoggi’s death, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family, fiancée, and friends,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in the statement.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump cautioned against blaming Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s disappearance but told reporters Thursday that “it certainly looks like” he was dead.

Saudi Arabia had denied news reports that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, but pressure has been building on the Saudi government more than two weeks to explain what happened to him after he entered the consulate earlier this month.

On Friday evening, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham – a key ally of President Donald Trump – posted a tweet registering his skepticism of the Saudi government’s latest account of what happened to Khashoggi.

“To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement. First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement. Now, a fight breaks out and he’s killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince.”

Khashoggi had warned of renewed efforts to silence free press in the Middle East, and his final column, titled, “What the Arab world needs most is free expression,” was published on Wednesday.

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Return to sender: Postal union warns of fallout if US leaves

Posted on: October 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A top official with a 192-country postal union says Americans can expect no international letters or packages if the Trump administration goes through with plans to pull of an international postal treaty over concerns about China