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Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.


Trump's attempt to help the kingdom of Saudi Arabia pour fresh paint over journalist Jamal Khashoggi's blood stains continued last night. As Turkish officials report gruesome details from audio they claim is from Khashoggi's murder in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Trump says he's waiting to hear the Saudis' excuses from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Last night Pompeo told reporters that he didn't listen to the audio, and shrugged off questions about "facts." Even Rudy Giuliani has surfaced from the muck to toe the Trump administration's line about who held the bone saw.

All of this comes as US and European intel agencies cite mounting circumstantial evidence and communiques from Saudi officials leading up to Khashoggi's disappearance that suggest it's unlikely the ALLEGED murder order did not come from Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

WaPo has a story about Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi activist living in Montreal who befriended Khashoggi during his exile. It's a good read if you want to know the lengths the Saudi kingdom will go in order to shut people up, and the balls some have in standing up to the kingdom.

A Saudi paper published threats from the kingdom to punish people with five-year prison terms if they're caught spreading "fake news" on the interwebs. They don't give a fuck if you're a Saudi citizen or a foreign national, they'll black van your ass with Mr. Bonesaw if they catch you photoshopping MBS screwing a goat in a Range Rover.

WaPo has published Jamal Khashoggi's final column. It calls for more press freedoms throughout the Arab world, which is increasingly facing an "Iron Curtain" of information, and notes the promises left in the wake of the Arab spring.

Paul Manafort has to show up for his next court appearance in a prison onesie after US District Court Judge TS Ellis denied Manafort's request to wear a suit during his next hearing. In a written statement, Judge Ellis blasted Manafort's request: "This defendant should be treated no differently from other defendants who are in custody post conviction." Ellis added that Manafort "Is no longer presumed innocent of the multiple criminal courts he stands convicted of." DDAAMMNN!

In a rare interview with the WSJ, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein defended the Trump-Russia investigation, told his haters to piss off, and concluded, "I believe that our department and our office have been appropriately managing that investigation."

Chief Justice John Roberts was speaking to the University of Minnesota and tried to reassure everyone that his court isn't totally screwed, or partisan. Right.

After installing Rapey McPrivilege on the Supreme Court and helping Mitch McConnell pack 70 judges on lower courts, Don McGahn walked away from Trump's White House yesterday. McGahn leaves behind a complete disaster for his successor, Pat Cipollone, and a sticky note that reads, "Good luck, sucker."

Trump seems to be threatening to withhold disaster funding from California. During one of his reality show cabinet meetings, Trump bitched about the cost of wildfires and said, "Old trees are sitting there, rotting and drying. And instead of cleaning it up, they don't touch them, they leave them. And we end up with these massive fires that we're paying hundreds of billions of dollars for to fix, and the destruction is incredible." Goddamn old trees! Why doesn't someone just put in something useful, like a parking lot?

Former Equifax geek Sudhakar Reddy Bonthu was sentenced to eight months of house arrest and a $50,000 fine, and forced to forfeit the $75,000 he made after stumbling across a massive data breach that exposed the personal information of 145 million customers (about half of the population of America). The four executives who sure-as-fuck seemed guilty after they made a hell of a lot more money and never told anyone about the breach? No charges.

Mitch McConnell's main goal for the next two years -- regardless of what happens in the midterms -- is to keep packing the courts. He may try to repeal Obamacare and pass more poor-fucking tax cuts, but he's got a hard-on for the bench.

Steve Bannon is heading to upstate New York next week to stump for indicted Republican Rep. Chris Collins. Collins's most recent FEC filings show he raised only $33,000 in the third quarter, almost all of it from PACs, and only (no joke) $80 from three people. Recent polls show Collins leading by only three points, 46 to 43.

Kansas Republican House candidate Steve Watkins and his dad spent $1.2 million to beat back his primary challengers. Watkins's campaign says all that money came from his time working as a military contractor, but the Watkins family's personal finances are strange, and suggest his dad has been bailing him out via a super PAC the entire election cycle.

The former president of USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny, was arrested on charges of evidence-tampering in a Texas investigation into sexual abuse at the USA Gymnastics training camp carried out by Larry Nassar.

Security researchers stumbled across an unprotected cache of data from Tea Party gun-rights groups that were intended to encourage high-school students to engage in pro-gun protests. Among some of the more juicy (and horrifying) tidbits were guides for pro-gun protests at schools, call scripts, flyers and posters, press releases, and a database of 527,000 supporters.

Facebook is being sued by a group of advertisers for lying about its video metrics following a 2016 story in the WSJ, and internal documents suggest an effort to "obfuscate the fact that we screwed up the math." TLDR: The "pivot to video" was a bunch of bullshit pushed by Facebook to sell more ads on (GUESS WHAT?) Facebook.

Political and advocacy groups have found a loophole in Facebook's political ad policy by hiding behind LLCs. This is a two-way street: It's allowed universal healthcare advocates to microtarget middle-aged women in flyover country, but it's also allowed "supporters" of embattled Virginia Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock to dump money into an anonymous ad blitz that calls Democrat Jennifer Wexton a Nazi-socialist "brownshirt" who wants to steal yer guns and rape Brett Kavanaugh.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is once again copying everyone else in Silicon Valley and releasing a "new" pro-privacy policy. Since Apple sells luxury goods to fabulous people instead of ads and user data, it's acting like its shit doesn't stink by (finally) letting customers delete Apple accounts.

Here's a good piece on the difference between the data Google and Facebook collect. Google might collect more way more info, but Facebook won't let you delete anything they harvest.

Wall Street wants the head of Mark Zuckerberg. Three state treasurers and the New York City comptroller have joined a shareholder proposal to pressure the board of Facebook into kicking Mark Zuckerberg's ass to the curb. It's a largely symbolic move that's motivated by money more than privacy rights, but at least it's something.

And here's your morning Nice Time! Giant bird sexy times!

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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or in a gutter taking photos.

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