Khashoggi — The brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, and this country’s tepid response, continues to evolve. The ever shifting story has done little to change the fact that it falls right on the door of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, our ally. Reuters had an exclusive this week on how the operation at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul went down, including how top aide Saud al-Qahtani ran it over Skype. Reuters took the step of running it without bylines, which gives a glimpse at the perceived danger involved in reporting it. I’ll just leave this little nugget from the story about pour allies, the Saudis, right here:
“The kingdom has survived other crises in the past year, including the fallout of the crown prince’s short-lived kidnapping of Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri in 2017. Hariri, too, was verbally humiliated and beaten, according to eight Saudi, Arab and Western diplomatic sources. The man leading that interrogation: Saud al-Qahtani.
France intervened to free Hariri, but Western capitals did not take Riyadh to task for detaining a head of government - and Prince Mohammed emerged emboldened, according to these Saudi sources.”
That’s the prime minister of a sovereign nation.
I can’t top Michael Smerconish, who asks, "What the hell does the Saudi royal family hold over American presidents? It's as if we ... give them the Resolute Desk and the Book of Secrets, and in the latter he learns he must assume fealty to the kingdom"
What divide? -- Polarization is everywhere. That’s what they tell us, anyway. President Trump, the Freedom Caucus, the progressives, socialists, resistance, what have you. Nobody gets along. Well, leave it to Vermont to teach us a better way. Following a debate, two candidates in a rural district competing for a seat in the state's House of Representatives rearranged the seats in the library the forum was held, picked up their guitar and cello, and broke into song. Republican Zac Mayo? Democrat Lucy Rogers? Thank you for reminding all of us that despite our political differences, we can make beautiful music together.
No more -- Tom Silvestri, president and publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, explains why this will be the last election cycle in which the paper makes endorsements. Among other reasons, in this polarized climate (Vermont excepted, of course) there is little upside to the newspaper. It’s a heckuva read, particularly as our own newspapers wrestle with pressure to make endorsements. In a world where readers no longer understand the difference between stories, letters to the editor, editorials and columns, I, too, am wary of taking actions that make my reporter’s jobs more difficult or dangerous.
Never let go — After a few delays, Clive Palmer’s Blue Star Line’s Titanic II project is back on. A two-week maiden voyage is set for 2022, leaving from Dubai to Southampton, then New York to trace the original’s path before moving on to more global endeavors. The $500 million project aims to carry almost exactly the same number of passengers (2,400) and crew (900). The plan is for travelers to experience 1912 life on the ship (with a little less swimming). The Chinese-built ship (sorry, Belfast) will boast all the best modern technology to avoid icebergs — even the rectangular ones — and other hazards.
On the food beat — Introducing BK nightmare. No, not the King lying in bed with you holding a “Meatnormous,” I mean the joker of burgers. It’s a quarter-pound of beef under a crispy chicken fillet, bacon, cheese, mayo, and onions on a glazed sesame seed nuclear green bun, a special order that’s guaranteed to upset us. Too much for you? Try “Golden Girls” cereal instead, courtesy of toy company Funko (they make those big-headed pop figure thingies. Just $7.99, at Target stores and online. The actual product is reportedly a multigrain thing, but it’s blue, so there’s something. It’s a limited edition, so don’t wait too long.
Don’t dress your chickens — No, I don’t mean dress the bird before eating it, I mean little top hats and sweaters and things. That’s the word from the CDC, due to a particular strain of drug-resistant salmonella that has infected at least 92 people in 29 states. No deaths have been reported. Apparently, dressing your pet chickens up is a thing. The CDC also says, "Don't kiss your birds or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth." I feel like that goes without saying.