Headlines: October 24, 2018
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President Trump spoke to reporters in the White House on Tuesday and remarked on the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, calling it “the worst cover-up in history.” Trump has echoed the Saudi monarchy’s story that the killing was carried out by rogue members of the Saudi security forces and that Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman had nothing to do with it. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US would be revoking the visas of some of the suspects arrested in connection with Khashoggi’s murder. Meanwhile Khashoggi’s sons Salah and Saleh were invited to the Saudi palace on Tuesday where they shook hands with the crown price while cameras snapped photos. News media have reported that Salah Khashoggi has been banned from leaving Saudi Arabia and several outlets speculated on the grim nature of what appears to be a public relations stunt.
In news about the migrant caravan headed to the US from Central America, one man has died among the thousands that originated from Honduras – when he fell off a crowded bus filled with migrants. A number of those traveling are struggling with health problems as they make the long and arduous journey largely on foot across thousands of miles looking for a better life. Many have developed respiratory problems and some children are running high temperatures.
As the thousands-strong caravan heads to the US, the numbers of Central American families crossing the US border has remained steady despite the horrendous Trump Administration policy of family separation earlier this year that left thousands of parents and children traumatized and scarred, and some indefinitely separated. The Trump administration is desperately trying to make the influx of refugees at the US border an election issue, claiming that it is the fault of Democrats.
In the border state of Texas a record number of voters have begun casting their ballots early. Early voting began on Monday and Texas-based news outlets have reported that the hometown of Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke saw a record high number of early voters. Meanwhile students at a historically black college are suing the state of Texas for what they say is voting discrimination. The students, who are enrolled at Prairie View A&M University, filed the suit in federal court after noting that not a single early voting polling place was opened on their campus. According to the Huffington Post, “The suit says the limited early voting in Prairie View, home to Prairie View A&M and where 79 percent of the voting-age population is black, is illegal because nearby towns in the county with more voters who are white and less who are ages 18 to 21 have more early voting opportunities. They say the county’s early voting locations violate the Voting Rights Act as well as the 14th, 15th and 26th amendments, the last of which guarantees the right to vote to anyone over 18.”
The two major party candidates for the gubernatorial race in Georgia debated on Tuesday in what is turning out to be a very contentious race. Secretary of State Brian Kemp who is backed by Trump and who, by virtue of his job, controls the election systems, is running against progressive Democrat Stacey Abrams who could become the state and the nation’s first ever black female governor. A taste of Tuesday night’s debate focusing on the controversy over voter suppression in Georgia between gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in a debate with her rival Brian Kemp on Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning President Trump tweeted, “Brian Kemp will be a GREAT Governor of Georgia. Stacey Abrams will destroy the State.”
On Tuesday the Trump administration’s Council of Economic Advisors released a bizarre document entitled “The Opportunity Costs of Socialism.” The report attempts to make an empirical case for why socialism does not work. In doing so, the authors inadvertently make the case for a single payer system that conservatives have derided as “socialist.” Vox’s Sarah Kliff pointed out that a chart intended to show longer wait times for seniors seeking healthcare in various countries includes the US having the shortest wait times. But of course seniors in the US enjoy the benefits of Medicare – a single payer system just for those over the age of 65. Many point out that the report is intended to counteract the growing popularity of a Medicare-for-all system among the public and politicians, especially Democrats, as well as the popularity of socialism as an economic system.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday has found widespread anger at President Trump among those identifying as Democratic voters. According to Reuters, “Democrats are most angry about the Trump administration’s now abandoned practice of separating undocumented immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border, the potential for Russian interference in future U.S. elections and the Republican president himself.” Meanwhile, “Republicans are most angry about the potential for Congress to try to remove Trump through impeachment, undocumented immigrants coming into the country and the mainstream news media.” Reuters added, “Angry Americans will be more likely to vote, and Democrats are generally more angry about their hot-button issues than Republicans.”
A Utah State Senator has gone to great lengths to make the case for marijuana legalization in his state. Sen. Jim Dabakis drove to Nevada where pot is legal, in order to try it out for himself and posted a Facebook video about it. Utah voters will consider a ballot measure called Proposition 2 on legalizing medical marijuana. But Dabakis said, “It dawned on me (last) Wednesday on the floor of the Senate that the Legislature is going to have the final say on this medical marijuana.” He added, “I thought, ‘Maybe nobody on this floor has ever tried marijuana. I think if the Legislature would actually try it they would find it and realize this is no big deal, and at least let those who are suffering have the help that they need.” Dabakis ultimately decided to try out an edible gummy bear.
And finally the family behind a major pharmaceutical company that has been implicated in opioid sales that feed the opioid crisis, is being sued. Purdue Pharma is owned and operated by the Sackler family, which is named in the lawsuit filed in New York’s Suffolk County. According to AP, “The suit says that the family learned in 1999 that OxyContin was being abused but that a Purdue company official later told a congressional investigation that they were unaware of abuses until 2000.”