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Saudi Arabia Overturns Death Sentences In Jamal Khashoggi Killing

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Saudi Arabia Overturns Death Sentences In Jamal Khashoggi Killing

A Saudi court has on Monday overturned five death sentences over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi who went missing on October 2, 2018, while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The official Saudi Press Agency said, citing a spokesman for the public prosecutor that “five of the convicts were given 20 years in prison and another three were jailed for seven to 10 years,” in a final ruling in the case that saw the Washington Post columnist killed and dismembered by a Saudi hit squad. None of the defendants were named.

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The trial was widely criticized by rights groups and an independent UN investigator, who noted no senior officials nor anyone suspected of ordering the killing was found guilty. The independence of the court was also brought into question.

Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 after he entered the premises to obtain paperwork for his planned marriage.

Turkish officials say 59-year-old Khashoggi’s body was dismembered at the consulate by the killers and his remains are yet to be found.

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Back in May, Khashoggi’s sons said that they had “pardoned” the killers, a move condemned as a “parody of justice” by a UN expert. The family’s pardon spared the lives of five people sentenced to death last December.

According to Turkish officials, Khashoggi, a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a 15-man Saudi squad inside the consulate. His remains have not been found.

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Riyadh has described the murder as a “rogue” operation, but both the CIA and a UN special envoy have directly linked Prince Mohammed to the killing, a charge the kingdom vehemently denies.

The Turkish fiancée of the slain journalist, Hatice Cengiz, branded the verdict a “farce”. Cengiz said on Twitter the “the ruling handed down today in Saudi Arabia again makes a complete mockery of justice.”

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Biden, Trump Prepare To Debate At A Time Of Mounting US Crises

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Biden Trump Prepare To Debate At A Time Of Mounting US Crises

The first presidential debate in this year’s U.S. General elections takes place tonight. The duel between incumbent Donald Trump and the man who intends to wrest the office from him, Joe Biden, could be an inflection point in an American election year like no other in living memory.

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This year’s White House race has remained unchanged for months, fueled to some extent by the coronavirus pandemic and a sinking economy.  The sustained demonstrations on racial injustice, police brutality and by black lives matter group have also played a role.

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These events have sharply outlined partisan feelings that have been hardened over the most polarizing of presidents.  As the race stands today, there are very few undecided voters left.

For Trump, the contest is one of his last opportunities to reshape the race and color voters’ impression of his opponent.

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The debate comes just five weeks before election day, and voting is already underway in some key battleground states.

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NY Times: Trump ‘Paid $750 In Federal Income Taxes In 2016 And 2017’

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NY Times: Trump 'Paid $750 In Federal Income Taxes In 2016 And 2017’

New York Times has obtained a copy of president Donald Trump’s federal income tax and has revealed the president paid just $750 in taxes in 2016, the year he ran for the U.S. Presidency, and the same amount during his first year in office.  The newspaper also reports Trump paid no income taxes at all in ten of the previous fifteen years.

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Trump has faced and is still facing legal challenges for refusing to share documents concerning his fortune and business dealings.

He is the first president since the 1970s who has refused to make his tax returns public.  Even though making tax returns public is not legally required of presidential candidates or presidents, those who occupy the White House have always showed their tax returns in an act of transparency.

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Trump says the times report was “fake news.”  The newspaper says the information carried in the story was provided by sources with legal access to it.

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Switzerland Referendum: Voters Reject End To Free Movement With EU

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Switzerland Referendum: Voters Reject End To Free Movement With EU

Six in ten Swiss voters have rejected a proposal to end an accord with the European Union allowing free movement of people.

Switzerland is not an EU member, but it has a series of interdependent treaties with Brussels which gives it access to Europe’s free trade area.

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The move to rein in immigration was proposed by the Swiss people’s party but opposed by the government.    A similar initiative to introduce quotas on immigrants from the EU to Switzerland narrowly passed in a 2014 referendum, damaging Swiss-EU relations.

The Swiss are given a direct say in their own affairs under the country’s system of direct democracy.  They are regularly invited to vote on various issues in national or regional referendums.

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Supporters of the anti-free movement plan say it would allow Switzerland to control its borders and select only the immigrants it wants.

Opponents argue it would plunge a healthy economy into recession at an uncertain time and deprive hundreds of thousands of Swiss citizens of their freedom to live and work across Europe.

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