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Khashoggi’s Children Given Houses, Paid Monthy as “Compensation” for Fathers Killing

The children of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi have each received $4 million houses, and are receiving over $10,000 every month from the Saudi government as “compensation” for their father’s murder. The Saudi government has sentenced five people to death for their involvement in the killing, and if they are convicted, Khashoggi’s family can agree […]

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  • The children of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi have each received $4 million houses, and are receiving over $10,000 every month from the Saudi government as “compensation” for their father’s murder.
  • The Saudi government has sentenced five people to death for their involvement in the killing, and if they are convicted, Khashoggi’s family can agree to forego the sentences in favor of receiving tens of millions of dollars apiece in “blood money” under Saudi law.
  • U.S. intelligence agencies, the U.S. Senate, and an independent investigation by the U.N. have all concluded that Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman orchestrated the killing, but the Trump administration has repeatedly denied his involvement.

Khashoggi Family “Compensated”

The children of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi have received million-dollar houses in Saudi Arabia and five-figure monthly payments as compensation from the Saudi government, Saudi officials and individuals close to the Khashoggi family told reporters on Monday.

Khashoggi was a Saudi journalist who left the country over fear for his safety and lived a resident in the U.S. On Oct. 2, Khashoggi entered a Saudi consulate in Turkey where he was later killed.

Since October, the Saudi’s have continually shifted their story about what happened to Khashoggi. They have repeatedly denied that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, or the Saudi government ordered the killing or had any knowledge of it beforehand.

According to the officials and other sources, the houses given to Khashoggi’s children are worth $4 million apiece, and individual payments of $10,000 or more are made to every one of the siblings each month.

One official told the Washington Post that this agreement was approved last year by King Salman himself. The official also described the payments as an acknowledgment that “a big injustice has been done” and an attempt “to make a wrong right.”

“Blood Money”

In addition to the houses and monthly payments, all of Khashoggi’s four children could also receive tens of millions of dollars each in separate payouts from negotiations when the trials of Khashoggi’s accused killers end.

Back in November, Saudi officials indicted 11 people involved in Khashoggi’s killing and announced that they were seeking the death penalty for five of those people. Those trials began in January, and are expected to conclude in the next few months.

Unlike damages paid to victims in the American justice system, these payments to the siblings are viewed by many as “blood money.”

Accepting blood money is not uncommon in Saudi Arabia, it is a normal and legal practice in the Saudi legal system.

Five of the suspects in the Khashoggi case could face the death penalty, and if those suspects are convicted, there are two options. Either the suspects are sentenced to death, or the Khashoggi family could request financial compensation as an alternate punishment.

It is not clear whether the family would have to pardon the killers in order to get the money.

However, this kind of agreement could close the case under Saudi law. Which would mean that MBS or his senior aides that are believed to be involved in the murder would never have to face any kind of trial.

Khashoggi’s children have been extremely quiet about the whole ordeal. Back in November, his two daughters published an op-ed in the Washington Post about remembering their father.

In the op-ed, they wrote their father was not a dissident, but did not place any blame on MBS or the Saudi government. Since the story of “blood money” payments has come out, some have criticized the Saudi government of silencing Khashoggi’s children.

One Saudi official pushed back against this, saying that these kind of payments are part of Saudi Arabia’s long-standing practice of providing financial support to victims of violent crime.

“Such support is part of our custom and culture,” said the official, “It is not attached to anything else.”

Donald Trump Denies Saudi Involvement

It has been almost exactly six months since Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate.

Much has changed and developed over the last half a year, but one thing that remains constant is Donald Trump’s continued refusal to place any blame on MBS or the Saudi government.

In November, the CIA finished an investigation into the murder that concluded that MBS had ordered Khashoggi’s killing. The CIA came to this conclusion based on intercepted communications, but had no direct evidence implicating MBS.

The report has remained sealed from the public, but the president, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and other top officials have been briefed on the matter.

Trump responded to the investigation by outright denying the CIA’s findings, and saying he believed MBS. In an interview with Fox News in November, Trump said, “He [MBS] told me had nothing to do with it. He told me that, I would say, maybe 5 times, at different points.”

“But at the same time, we do have an ally, and I wanna stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good,” the president said.

Source: Fox News

Then, in December, CIA director Gina Haspel briefed senators on the Foreign Relations Committee on the CIA’s report in a closed-door meeting. The senators came out of that meeting convinced that MBS had ordered the killing.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a strong supporter of Trump told reporters, “You can be assured it was thorough and the evidence is overwhelming.”

“It is zero chance, zero, that this happened in such an organized fashion without the crown prince,” said Sen. Graham, “The reason they don’t draw the conclusion that he’s complicit is because the administration doesn’t want to go down that road — not because there’s not evidence to suggest it.”

Following the briefing with Haspel, the lawmakers unanimously approved a measure that stated the U.S. Senate believed MBS was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder, in a massive rebuke of Trump.

The Senate also voted in favor of ending U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen in yet another rebuke of Trump.

The U.S. is not alone in its findings. In February, Agnes Callamard, the U.N. human rights expert leading an independent inquiry into the murder released her preliminary observations from her visit to Turkey.

Among other things, Callamard stated in her findings that the evidence presented to her team demonstrated that: “Mr. Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials of the State of Saudi Arabia and others acting under the direction of these State agents.”

The day after Callamard released her findings, the Trump administration refused to submit a report to Congress drawing a conclusion about whether or not MBS was responsible for killing Khashoggi.

Trump was required to submit the report under the rules of the Magnitsky Act, which requires the White House to carry out an investigation into any foreign human rights abuses and issue some kind of judgment.

Congress triggered the Magnitsky Act back in October, which gave Trump 120 days to make a determination about the royal family’s responsibility for the murder and then to take some kind of action, usual sanctions in the form of sanctions. Again, Trump refused to comply.

See what others are saying: (Al Jazeera) (The Washington Post) (CBS)

International

U.S. Intel Suggests Pro-Ukraine Group Sabotaged Nord Stream Pipeline

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There is no evidence that the culprits behind the attack were acting under the direction of the Ukrainian government.


Europe Braces for Shocking Revelations

A pro-Ukraine group blew up the Nord Stream pipelines last September, intelligence reviewed by U.S. officials suggests.

The New York Times reported the news Tuesday, citing officials who said there was no evidence of involvement by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, any of his top lieutenants, or any government officials.

The strength of the evidence, however, is not clear, and U.S. officials declined to inform The Times on the nature of the intelligence or how it was obtained. They reportedly added that the intelligence indicates neither who the group’s members are nor who funded and directed the operation.

The Times’ sources said they believe the saboteurs were most likely Russian or Ukrainian nationals and that they possibly received specialized government training in the past.

It’s also possible that the group behind the attack was a proxy with covert ties to Kyiv, the report added.

When three of four Nord Stream pipelines were found to be severely damaged last year, the revelation shook markets and sent European gas prices soaring. Nord Stream 1, which was completed in 2011, and Nord Stream 2, which had been laid down but wasn’t yet operational, supplied Germany and by extension the rest of Western Europe with cheap Russian natural gas.

Following the explosions, Poland and Ukraine blamed Russia, and Russia blamed Britain. Other observers speculated that Ukraine might be behind it too.

More Ongoing Investigations

Last month, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh claimed in a Substack article that the United States military carried out the attack and that President Biden authorized it himself. However, Hersh’s report cited only one anonymous source in support of its central claim, so it was largely dismissed as not credible.

Western governments expressed caution on Wednesday in response to The Times report.

“There are ongoing national investigations and I think it’s right to wait until those are finalized before we say anything more about who was behind it,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.

Russia, by contrast, pounced on the opportunity to renew its demand for inclusion in a proposed international probe into the pipeline explosion.

The Ukrainian government denied any involvement in the Nord Stream explosions.

On Wednesday, multiple German media outlets reported that investigators have largely reconstructed how the attack happened, pinning the blame on six people who allegedly used a yacht hired by a Ukrainian-owned company in Poland.

German officials reportedly searched a vessel suspected of carrying the explosives in January, but the investigation is ongoing.

The country’s defense minister suggested the explosions may have been a “false flag” attack to smear Ukraine.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Associated Press) (Reuters)

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International

Turkey, Syria Earthquake Death Toll Rises to 41,000 as Survivors Pulled from Rubble

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A pair of brothers spent around 200 hours trapped under debris, living off of protein powder and their own urine.


A Humanitarian Crisis Explodes

The number of confirmed dead from the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria last week has surpassed 41,000.

Millions more people have been left stranded without adequate shelter, food, clean water, or medical supplies.

At night, the region has dropped to below-freezing temperatures.

Now health authorities are worried that the lack of sanitation infrastructure, which was damaged by the quakes, will lead to a disease outbreak.

“We haven’t been able to rinse off since the earthquake,” 21-year-old Mohammad Emin, whose home was destroyed, told Reuters.

He was helping out at a clinic serving displaced people in an open-air stadium, but with no showers and only six toilets, the resource shortage was poignant.

“They are offering tetanus shots to residents who request them, and distributing hygiene kits with shampoo, deodorant, pads and wipes,” added Akin Hacioglu, a doctor at the clinic.

The World Health Organization monitors the population for waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid, as well as seasonal influenza and COVID-19.

Rescuers Race Against the Clock

After more than a week of searching, hopes that more living victims will be found amid the collapsed buildings are fading, but rescuers continue to pull out the final few survivors.

Abdulbaki Yeninar, 21, and his brother Muhammed Enes Yeninar, 17, spent about 200 hours under rubble in the city of Kahramanmaras before they were extracted Tuesday. They told reporters they held on by eating protein powder, drinking their own urine, and swallowing gulps of air.

In the same city, teams dug a 16-foot tunnel through debris to rescue a woman, and to the south, a volunteer mining crew joined the efforts to save another.

With no homes to go back to, some survivors have joined the ranks of volunteers themselves.

In the past week, more than 35,000 Turkish search-and-rescue teams worked alongside thousands of international workers in the effort, according to Turkey’s emergency management agency.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called the earthquakes the “disaster of the century” and said in a statement that at least 13,000 people were being treated in hospitals.

The death toll is expected to rise even further in the coming weeks.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Reuters) (Al Jazeera)

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International

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Resigns

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“In my head and in my heart I know that time is now,” she said to reporters


Sturgeon Steps Down

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her resignation on Wednesday. 

Sturgeon has been Scotland’s longest-serving First Minister and she is also the first woman to ever hold the position. She has been in politics since 1999, leading the charge for Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom. Sturgeon also guided the country through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sturgeon made sure to mention that her decision was not in response to the latest round of political pressure she is facing after her recent controversies regarding gender reform. Rather, her reasons are rooted in her own personal struggle with whether she can continue to do the job well. 

 “To be clear, I am not expecting violins here. But I am a human being as well as a politician,” she said during a press conference on Wednesday. “My point is this – giving absolutely everything of yourself to this job is the only way to do it. The country deserves nothing less. But, in truth, that can only be done by anyone for so long.

For me, it is now in danger of becoming too long,” Sturgeon continued. “A First Minister is never off-duty. Particularly in this day and age, there is virtually no privacy. Even ordinary stuff that most people take for granted like going for a coffee with friends or going for a walk on your own becomes  very difficult.”

Sturgeon’s Political Future

Sturgeon’s approval ratings are reportedly the lowest they’ve been since she’s been in office. Regardless, many political figures in Scotland, as well as the U.K., have applauded her and her historic service as First Minister. 

There are still several unknowns moving forward. There is still no confirmation on who will take over the position. However, Sturgeon did say that she will serve until someone else is elected. 

The push for Scotland’s independence is hanging in limbo as well, and no one knows what it’ll look like without Sturgeon’s leadership. She did mention, however, that she does not intend to leave politics fully and will still fight for the cause as a lawmaker in Parliament. 

Sturgeon said the support for Scottish independence needs to be solidified and grow.

“To achieve that we need to reach across the divide in Scottish politics,” she said. “And my judgment now is that this needs a new leader.”

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (BBC) (The Washington Post)

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