Monday morning news: October 22, 2018

Many unconvinced by Saudi account of Khashoggi death » Saudi Arabia is having a hard time selling its version of how Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi died inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The Saudis say Khashoggi’s death wasn’t ordered from the top, that a fistfight inside the consulate led to his death, and the royal family’s hands are clean.

On Sunday, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle called that explanation absurd. The Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “has his fingerprints all over this.”

DURBIN: Five of his top personal bodyguards are among those currently accused in the 18. His personal bodyguards. 

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina agreed…

GRAHAM: It’s ridiculous to believe that 18 people would go to Turkey to kill Mr. Khashoggi and nobody in the government know about it. 

But so far the White House is still taking a more delicate approach, stressing that Saudi Arabia is an important U.S. ally. President Trump said he thinks the Saudi explanation is credible though he stopped short of saying he believes it. And he said Saudi Arabia’s arrest of the suspects in the killing was “a big first step,” but “only a first step.”

Amid the scandal, the German government said said it is reassessing whether to continue arms sales to the Saudis.

Many on Capitol Hill are calling for the same. So far President Trump has maintained such a move would hurt the U.S. more than Saudi Arabia.

U.S. to withdraw from Russia nuclear treaty » U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton faces two days of high-tension talks in Russia starting today, following President Trump’s announcement that he’s plans to pull the plug on a nuclear treaty between the two countries.

After a campaign event on Saturday, the president told reporters.

TRUMP: Russia has not adhered to the agreement, so we are going to terminate the agreement and we are going to develop the weapons. If they get smart, and if others get smart, and they say let’s not develop these horrible nuclear weapons, I would be extremely happy with that. 

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty is known by the acronym INF. President Trump says the Russian government has repeatedly violated it.

He also said he’d like for China to be part of any such pact, adding it would be foolish for the U.S. to be the only major nuclear force abiding by it.

President Ronald Reagan signed INF with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. The treaty prohibited the U.S. and Russia from having, producing or test-flying certain ground-launched nuclear missiles.

Moscow has condemned the U.S. decision, calling it “a very dangerous step.”

Migrant caravan swells, resumes push toward U.S. » AUDIO: [Sound of migrant caravan]

A growing throng of Central American migrants resumed their advance toward the U.S. border in southern Mexico on Sunday, overwhelming Mexican government attempts to stop them at the border.

Their numbers swelled to about 5,000 late Saturday night. At first light they set out walking toward the Mexican town of Tapachula, 10 abreast in a line a mile long.

President Trump over the weekend once again vowed to stop the caravan if Mexico cannot.  

TRUMP: You have some very, very bad people in the caravan. You have some very tough criminal elements within the caravan. But I will seal off the border before they come into this country. And I will bring out our military—not our reserves—I’ll bring out our military. 

But the migrants have continued marching, undeterred, shouting slogans like “Si se pudo!” or “Yes, we could!”

As they passed through Mexican villages on the outskirts of Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexicans cheered on the caravan, and donated food and clothing to the travelers.

Hurricane Michael death toll rises again » The death toll from Hurricane Michael Michael has risen once again. A medical examiner confirmed the death of a woman in Bay County, Florida. That means the storm has now claimed 26 lives in Florida and other 10 in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

Meantime, relief efforts continue in the Florida panhandle. Disaster medical teams have set up care wards in tents as medical attention is becoming an increasingly dire need.

Only emergency routes are open in the hardest hit areas and local hospitals are not yet admitting patients. Tony Averbuch heads one of those medical teams in the panhandle.

AVERBUCH: Maybe they had to leave their house. They’re in a shelter now, and they’re dealing with problems like high blood pressure or diabetes. 

Many severely ill patients have been transported to hospitals elsewhere.

At least 18 dead after train derails in Taiwan » At least 18 people are dead in Taiwan after a train derailed along a popular weekend route on Sunday. Nearly 200 other passengers were injured.

The Puyama Express, which is one Taiwan’s fastest passenger trains, was carrying more than 360 people. It jumped its tracks along on curve as it traveled from a suburb of Taipei to the coastal city of Taitung.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead on Legal Docket: catching up on Supreme Court oral arguments. This is The World and Everything in It.

(Metafora Production via AP) In this image made from a March 2018 video provided by Metafora Production, Jamal Khashoggi speaks during an interview at an undisclosed location. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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