Saudi Solution is Simple: Show Us Khashoggi’s Body

October 22, 2018

By Karen

Trump and Kushner are still playing coy over whether they believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the killing of Virginia resident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi on October 2.

One story is that Khashoggi synced his Apple watch to the iPhone he left with his fiancée outside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, which saved a file to the cloud of what the watch recorded happening inside the building. However, the BBC dissected the gadgets’ capabilities and debunked the likelihood of this.

Turkish authorities claim to have audio and video of Khashoggi’s murder. They’re reluctant to share this information and reveal the true extent of their surveillance practices. Understandable. But they’ve released plenty of gruesome details.

Meanwhile, the Saudis have been using Trump as their stooge to float a series of denials and fanciful lies, including that 60-year-old Khashoggi got into a fistfight and was accidentally strangled when somebody put him in a chokehold.

Based on Turkey’s revelations, it appears Khashoggi was ambushed by 15 Saudi men equipped with a bone saw, flown in specifically for the occasion. Once Khashoggi entered the consulate, he was tortured, apparently had fingers cut off, then drugged and dismembered while still alive by a man who told the others it was good to listen to music whenever butchering a person.

If none of this happened, the Saudis should be able to produce Khashoggi’s completely intact corpse.

But they haven’t. They can’t even say where it is.

Instead, there’s video of a body double wearing a fake beard and Khashoggi’s clothes (but not his shoes) leaving by the consulate’s back door with another man. Cameras also caught the double entering a public restroom and emerging in his original clothes, sans beard, then dumping a shopping bag (containing Khaghoggi’s clothes, presumably) in a dumpster.

A small handful of Republican senators (Paul, Sasse, Corker and Graham) have professed outrage, but we know they’ll be dancing in a chorus line behind Trump when he soon kisses MBS on the lips and declares his everlasting devotion to Saudi Arabia.

The truth is that Trump is personally terrified that sanctioning the Saudis will cut off the sweet, sweet flow of cash into his own pocket; instead, he feigns concern over losing a $110 billion arms sale that was tentative at best.

The world sees an impotent United States making excuses for unimaginable barbarity on a man Trump keeps reminding us only lived here on a green card, as if his life mattered less than any blond-haired, blue-eyed native redneck.

The Saudis may have done the killing, but this blood is all over Trump. Without his daily rants about the press being “the enemy of the people” and rally ravings about how he loves to see journalists body-slammed, encouraging his moronic supporters to hate the legitimate news media, he sends a deadly signal.

Bottom line: The House of Trump loves terrorizing journalists. The Saudis gave him the gift of showing what can happen to anyone who dares to question or criticize the powers that be. In Trump’s eyes, that’s a plus, not a problem.

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Bourdain Revealed Last Wishes in Indonesia

October 9, 2018

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain probably filmed Parts Unknown season 12 Indonesia in April 2018, about the time his $200,000 payment went to Jimmy Bennett in hopes of killing Bennett’s claim that Tony’s then-girlfriend, Asia Argento, had sexually assaulted Bennett as a teenager.

Bourdain filmed one scene at a Bali resort surrounded by sunbathing and swimming tourists while he braved the heat in jeans, sipping an umbrella drink, mocking Wagyu beef sliders, and seeming to hate every minute.

Then a one-eyed man named Lawrence ferried Bourdain to a former penal island, where they shared an enormous lobster and talked about death. Tony says, “I’ve thought about, as one does, how do I want to go?”

Lawrence suggests, “You want them all to cry, don’t you?”

Tony answers…

“No. Leave me in the jungle. I don’t want a party. ‘Reported dead.’ You know, what actually happens to my physical remains is of zero interest to me unless it can provide entertainment value. Throw me into a wood chipper and spray me into Harrods [London department store] at the middle of the rush hour. That would be pretty epic. I wouldn’t mind being remembered in that way.”

Two months later, Bourdain didn’t get his “epic” ending; he was cremated in France on June 13 and his ashes flown home to his brother Chris on June 15, ten days before what would have been Tony’s 62nd birthday.

But the rest of what he said is pretty spot-on. We know he killed himself by hanging with some alcohol in his system, but no suspicious drugs. Period.

Esquire just presented as fact that Tony’s family held a small private ceremony, but that statement is only based on a June 22 New York Times article that says…

“The family will likely have a small, private ceremony of some kind, said Gladys Bourdain, his mother. ‘He would want as little fuss as possible,’” she said.”

So, we still don’t know for sure. Many restaurants have been hosting special dinners in Bourdain’s memory, as on October 5 at Sardine in Madison, Wisconsin. It was ostensibly to honor Jacques Pepin, but when Pepin and his daughter Claudine arrived, they learned it was also a suicide prevention fundraiser.

Barring some new revelations in a CNN documentary and a biography scheduled for 2019 release, this could well be the end of the story. Except…

Tony’s ex-girlfriend, Asia Argento, used Trump’s well-known tactic of spreading lies by claiming “people are saying” to tearfully tell the Daily Mail details of a far-fetched tale about Tony’s death that she claims Rain Dove told her.

But, of course, Asia doesn’t believe it. Anything to paint herself as the victim.

As we’re watching Parts Unknown’s final episodes, it becomes clear Bourdain was increasingly preoccupied with death. Although Indonesia footage was edited posthumously with the benefit of hindsight, it includes THE most grisly scene I’ve ever seen on ANY Bourdain series, bar none. And I’m not talking about the whole pig roasting on a spit.

It’s a human funeral, beginning with a close-up of the deceased’s face as the body is being prepared for final rites. The public cremation includes the sight of the now-skinless, hairless blackening skull, fingers, joints and bones. Finally, the fragments and ashes are gathered into a cloth, several people wade into the nearby surf, and the remains are dumped into the water.

The cremation was supposed to be the mourners’ happy phase of the ceremony, and an off-screen voice explains…

“Time is circular. Death is but the beginning of another journey.”

One has to wonder if Tony believed that, and if those words came to mind in that hotel room in France, making what he was about to do seem not such a bad thing.

The episode ends with a bit of recycled voiceover (from Greece?), where Bourdain says…

“All stories should end on a beach. All the good ones do, anyway. Why should this one be any different?”

I wonder if it’s a clue for us that his family scattered his ashes in the Atlantic. I hope so. It seems fitting, considering how much time he spent living near it and flying over it.

PS: I started Bourdain’s last graphic novel, Hungry Ghosts, today. Stay tuned for a review. (So far, I’m impressed by its high-quality hardcover production for the amazing low price of $11.99.)


Don’t Let the Babble Bury Kavanaugh’s Many Flaws

October 1, 2018

By Karen

I watched all of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s and Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate Judicial Committee last week. Republicans seem thrilled to limit their vetting to a possibly unprovable he-said-she-said scenario of attempted rape.

Matt Damon dropped by SNL for a parody of the Kavanaugh hearing. It’s hilarious but terrifying because it’s only a mild exaggeration of what happened that day.

Brett Kavanaugh has displayed so much more about his unfitness for the Supreme Court that his underage drinking and rape aspirations in high school are the least of it. While writing this, I discovered another Yale classmate, Chad Ludington, has just joined the growing list speaking out about Kavanaugh because they know firsthand that he’s lying about his behavior. Here are some other red flags we must not forget…

Sense of Entitlement – Kavanaugh talks about the Supreme Court job as if it’s owed to him. (Tough shit, Merrick Garland.) Trump’s so desperate for a justice who believes the president is above the law, you have to wonder how much smoke he’s been blowing up Kavanaugh’s ass.

Belligerence – Demanding Senator Amy Klobuchar tell him her drinking habits was so obnoxious, someone must have persuaded him during a break to apologize, even though he was only using Trump’s deflection technique. Kavanaugh also behaved like a peevish brat in refusing to answer Senator Dick Durbin’s question about whether he’d want an FBI investigation to clear his name. I could write all day about Kavanaugh’s displays of arrogance and disrespect to the Democratic side of the committee.

Partisanship – He actually managed to drag the Clintons into his opening statement, as if they have anything to do with anything. Kavanaugh’s impatient, almost sneering contempt for Democratic questioning conveyed that he will be anything but impartial if he manages to get through this. He all but said to them, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

Alcoholism? – From his flushed face and constant water-gulping, it appeared Kavanaugh may have been drinking earlier that day. And what other SCOTUS nominee has spent so much time talking about beer? Heavy drinking seemed to be his part-time job for many years, so how do we know he’s doing doing it now?

Lying – Following another Trump example, he lied about easily verified things, such as the meaning of boofing and a Devil’s Triangle, and that he could drink legally in high school (he was only 17). Other examples are too numerous to list here.

Gambling? – Since the latest hearing was about attempted rape, there was no mention of the $200,000 credit card debt Kavanaugh racked up mainly on baseball tickets but managed to quickly pay off before his federal judgeship although he didn’t have that much money in the bank. Was he betting on games?

Financially Compromised?Kavanaugh’s funding sources are almost as murky as Trump’s. His ($220,600) and his wife’s ($66,000) salaries seem a tight fit for their lifestyle. They bought a $1.2 million house Kavanaugh described as a “fixer-upper” that’s expensive to maintain. They joined a country club with a $92,000 entry fee and $9,000 annual dues. They have two daughters attending a $10,580-a-year-per-child private school. He seems to be getting extra cash somewhere, but it’s not revealed in his financial disclosures.

Contempt for Women – Four women have shared stories of Kavanaugh being an aggressor or of doing nothing while his friends gang-raped girls. He’s anti-abortion and considered most likely to overturn Roe v. Wade. He seems to see himself as a privileged white master of the universe, which doesn’t bode well for the rest of us.

In addition to whatever the FBI finds, I think we’ve seen and heard enough about Brett Kavanaugh to know he’s the last person this country needs on the Supreme Court. May the FBI interview enough people this week and corroborate descriptions of this despicable man to not only keep him off SCOTUS, but to kick him off the bench altogether.


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