News & Analysis of Economic, Racial, Gender Justice and More

President Donald Trump has said he is sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia ‘immediately’ over the increasing controversy over the death of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi was a vocal critic of the Gulf Arab monarchy and was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. There is strong evidence that Saudi Arabia, and in particular Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was behind Khashoggi’s killing. According to the Washington Post, “The Turkish government has … told the Trump administration that it possesses audio recordings of what occurred inside the consulate that day — evidence that U.S. officials said supports the conclusion that Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.” Trump tweeted on Monday morning, “Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened ‘to our Saudi Arabian citizen.’ He said that they are working closely with Turkey to find answer. I am immediately sending our Secretary of State to meet with King!”

Trump was asked about the Khashoggi killing in an interview on PBS’s 60 Minutes over the weekend discussing the murder of Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. According to Associated Press, “Saudi Arabia on Sunday threatened to retaliate for any sanctions imposed against it after President Donald Trump said the oil-rich kingdom deserves ‘severe punishment,'” if it is found responsible for Khashoggi’s fate. Additionally, “international business leaders are pulling out of the kingdom’s upcoming investment forum, a high-profile event known as ‘Davos in the Desert,’ and the sell-off on Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange showed that investors are uneasy.”

Republican Senator Marco Rubio in an interview on Sunday underscored the strong pressure that the Trump administration faces from Congress in order to hold the Saudis accountable. In a CNN interview Rubio said, “I believe the Trump administration will do something. The president has said that. But if he doesn’t, Congress will. That I can tell you with 100% certainty. With almost full unanimity, across the board, Republicans and Democrats. There will be a very strong congressional response if in fact the Saudis lured him into that consulate, murdered him, cut up his body and disposed of it. There is going to be a very strong congressional response.”

In other news, thousands of survivors of Hurricane Michael – which slammed into the Florida Panhandle with frightening speed last week – are furious saying there is no government help coming their way. One survivor named Barbara Sanders told the Daily Beast, “that not a single relief agency had come by to check on them. Only the police had come and it was to tell everyone to leave.” She said, “They told us there’s nothing they can do and it’s gonna take a long time to rebuild.” According to the outlet, “The destruction is everywhere, at every corner, as far as the eye can see. Mexico Beach, where the hurricane’s eyewall slammed into Florida with 140 mph winds, is flattened. Panama City, gem of the Emerald Coast, looks like a bomb has been dropped on it. It is now a desolate landscape of toppled power poles, transformers, electrical lines, severed trees, and metal roofings, twisted and tangled into a sea of debris. Nearly all homes, businesses, stores, banks, schools are severely damaged or destroyed, skeletal remains with blown out windows or crushed facades. To residents, it is unrecognizable.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has sent in state-authorities to help residents. According to CNN, “more than 1,800 law enforcement officers have been sent to impacted areas in the Panhandle and Big Bend along with more than 400 ambulances with over 700 staff. The Florida National Guard has activated 4,000 soldiers and airmen to help with search and rescue, clearing roads and delivering supplies.” Hundreds of thousands of Floridians remain without power. In Panama City the majority of the local district’s schools will be shuttered. So far the death toll has hit 18 and is expected to rise. In the city of Mexico Beach whose population numbers only 1,200, 46 people out of the 289 that refused to evacuate are still missing. The city’s entire police department headquarters has been wiped out.

In other news, President Trump in the PBS Interview he gave over the weekend, was asked about the record breaking turnover his White House has experienced. He referred to his Defense Secretary James Mattis as “sort of a Democrat,” and implied that he may be leaving soon.  The Pentagon released a curt statement following the interview saying, “Secretary Mattis is laser-focused on doing his job — ensuring the U.S. military remains the most lethal force on the planet.” Mattis is currently on a visit to Vietnam – the second time this year. According to AP Mattis’ presence is, “signaling how intensively the Trump administration is trying to counter China’s military assertiveness by cozying up to smaller nations in the region that share American wariness about Chinese intentions.”

On Saturday Trump invited American pastor Andrew Brunson to the White House to celebrate his release from Turkish custody after nearly two years. Brunson had been arrested in Turkey in the fall of 2016 and placed under house arrest. Trump’s victory in securing his freedom is seen as a political gift to Evangelical Christians ahead of the midterm elections. Brunson, during his White House visit prayed for Trump to be given, “supernatural wisdom to accomplish all the plans you have for this country and for him.” After the prayer Trump said, “Can I ask you one question? Who did you vote for?”

In Chicago this past Saturday thousands of activists gathered for a “March to the Polls.” The famed Trump “baby blimp” made an appearance at the rally. The blimp had made its first public appearance in London, England during a state visit by Trump earlier this year. According to Newsweek, “The Chicago march aimed to register new voters and encourage participants and bystanders to vote for women’s equality in the November 6 midterm elections.”

You’ve successfully subscribed to Rising Up With Sonali
Welcome back! You’ve successfully signed in.
Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Your link has expired
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.