Welcome to Newscoop Footnotes — the weekly review of important news no one’s talking about.
Hi, I’m Zoe Licata.
Plenty more chaos in global affairs this week, with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia continuing to contribute more than their fair share.
- The foreign minister of tiny energy-rich Qatar announced last Monday that effective January 1st, they would be pulling out of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The Saudis cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in June 2017 and imposed a blockade on the country, as part of their effort to strong-arm Qatar into supporting Saudi foreign policy aims. The Saudis wanted Qatar to sever ties with Iran, with whom Qatar shares an important gas field in the Persian Gulf. The Saudis also demanded that Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera news agency, which provides independent regional news. It didn’t work. The independent-minded Qatar continues to maintain an open-door policy with most countries and factions, willing to speak, work and negotiate with many countries and groups the Saudis would choose to sideline. Qatar will be focusing now on their natural gas production.
- The next bit of news draws attention to just how political the American criminal justice system can be. And how there’s one set of rules for those with money and connections, and another for those with none.
Last week, the Miami Herald opened wide again their reporting on the gross criminal misdeeds of Palm Beach billionaire and serial sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein — and the even grosser lack of oversight by Miami’s top prosecutor Alexander Acosta in prosecuting Epstein’s crimes. Epstein was a well-connected financier accused of trafficking minors and sexually molesting hundreds of girls between 2001 and 2005, many of them only in middle school.
But despite the horrifying 53-page federal indictment, which could have meant the rest of Epstein’s life in a federal prison, U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta gave him what amounted to a “get-out-of-jail-free card”: just 13 months in a private wing of the Palm Beach county jail, with Epstein’s victims kept in the dark about the deal.
And now, Alexander Acosta is Donald Trump’s Secretary of Labor — overseeing, among other things, human trafficking. Many are asking why he still has a job.
Source: New York Times, Miami Herald
And then there’s more related to the Saudis’ murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
- We learned this week that Khalid bin Salman has returned to Washington. He’s the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and brother of the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the CIA determined had ordered the October 2nd murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi ambassador also actively participated in the post-murder cover-up, until it finally became impossible to deny any longer. Now, he’s slinking back into Washington to resume his post, despite what Senator Bob Corker says is his “zero credibility.” A December 7 Washington Post Editorial speaks of his return as “a stunningly arrogant act — one that underlined the regime’s defiant lack of repentance about the murder.”
Source: Washington Post
- And in a December 5th opinion piece in the Washington Post, Max Boot draws the world’s attention to an Israeli technology firm, NSO Group, that has been selling their Pegasus surveillance software to repressive regimes around the world to monitor dissidents. A lawsuit by Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz against the Israeli NSO Group accuses the Israeli firm of providing the Saudi government with surveillance software that allowed the Saudis to spy on Abdulaziz and his friend Jamal Khashoggi, likely contributing to the murder of Khashoggi.
Source: Washington Post
- And finally, a new report by the UK-based human rights NGO Article 19 shows that media freedom and the safety of journalists is under attack everywhere. In 2017, 78 journalists and 312 rights defenders were killed, and 326 journalists were imprisoned. Donald Trump’s demonization of the media is widely considered to be emboldening strongmen politicians and their followers around the world in actions against journalists.
Source: The Guardian, Article 19, Time
This has been the latest edition of Newscoop’s Footnotes – important events getting too little attention. See you next week with more.
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