Sen. Lindsey Graham says Mohammed bin Salman had Khashoggi 'murdered'

Image result for lindsey graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham on Tuesday blasted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the putative leader of Saudi Arabia, over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, calling him "a wrecking ball" who had the missing journalist "murdered."

"This guy is a wrecking ball, he had this guy murdered in a consulate in Turkey, and to expect me to ignore it, I feel used and abused," the South Carolina Republican said on "Fox and Friends.

Graham, who had previously been a staunch defender of Saudi Arabia, did not provide any evidence to support his claim.

Graham urged President Donald Trump to "sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia" and said the crown prince, who is often referred to by the initials MBS, has "gotta go."

"We deal with bad people all the time, but this is in our face. I feel personally offended. They have nothing but contempt," he said.

Graham then turned to the camera and said, "Saudi Arabia, if you're listening, there are a lot of good people you could choose, but MBS has tainted your country and tainted himself."

Graham's comments come just a day after NBC News, citing three people with knowledge of the situation, reported that Saudi Arabia's government is discussing a plan to admit that Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

According to two of the individuals, the Saudis are putting together an explanation that would absolve the crown prince of responsibility by giving him plausible deniability to say he didn't order the killing and didn't know about it.

A spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the discussions.

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and critic of the government who wrote for The Washington Post, vanished on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, triggering a major diplomatic crisis for the kingdom.

Turkish authorities have told U.S. officials that they have recordings from inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul that provide evidence that the missing journalist was killed inside.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman and bin Salman in Riyadh on Tuesday to discuss the disappearance and alleged murder of Khashoggi.



Trump Hits A New High-Water Mark: The Biggest Federal Deficit In 6 Years

Image result for federal deficit

The federal deficit has soared 17 percent in the president’s first fiscal year.

President Donald Trump likes to boast that he’s breaking records with the latest low unemployment figures. Here’s another record for his administration: The 2018 federal deficit hit the highest level of the last six years.

The deficit jumped 17 percent (or by $113 billion) to $779 billion at the end of Trump’s first fiscal year, according to final figures released Monday by the Treasury Department. That’s mostly due to the massive corporate tax cut that slashed rates from 35 percent to 21 percent, choking revenue for spending, which climbed 3 percent. Much of that was a hike in defense spending and money to pay interest on the climbing federal debt, CNN reported.

The U.S. government’s $523 billion in interest payments to service its debt in 2018 — the highest ever — was more than the entire economic output of Belgium this year, Bloomberg reported.

Corporate tax collections in the U.S. fell 22 percent, or $76 billion, in the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.

The total federal debt — which combines annual deficits — was 78 percent of the nation’s entire gross domestic product in June. It hasn’t been that large a percentage since World War II.

Trump promised the tax cuts would pay for themselves by boosting business, which would produce more taxes. But that hasn’t yet happened. The Trump administration estimates that the deficit will increase to $1.09 trillion in the next fiscal year.

The federal government usually increases spending — and deficits — to boost a faltering economy — such as during the 2008 recession triggered by the subprime mortgage and banking crisis. But the economy was already in a strong recovery when Trump moved into the White House, and he still boosted the deficit.

“By cutting taxes in 2017 when the economy was already quite strong, Congress and the administration not only missed a golden opportunity to begin to address the fiscal problem, they actually made the problem worse,” William Gale, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told CBS News.

The GOP had traditionally been the party that battled for a balanced federal budget.

Bernie Sanders @SenSanders

4 Republican policies led to a $779 billion deficit in 2018:

- Bush Tax Cuts: $488 B
- Trump Tax Cuts: $164 B
- Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: $127 B
- Defense increases since 9/11: $156 B

Without tax cuts for the wealthy and endless wars we would've had a $156 billion SURPLUS.

Trump's trade war is starting to whack car companies like Ford, Honda, and BMW

  • President Donald Trump's tariffs are starting to weigh on the the world's largest automakers.
  • BMW, Ford, and Honda have all issued warnings about the tariffs' impact on their businesses over the last few days.
  • The pain could get worse, as the Trump administration is still mulling tariffs on imported cars.

Image result for trump + tariffs

Evidence is mounting that automakers are taking a hit from President Donald Trump's tariffs, and the car companies say the worst may be yet to come.

Large automakers including Ford, Honda, and BMW say they are all reeling from the effects of the tit-for-tat tariffs between the US and China, as well as Trump's tariffs on all steel and aluminum tariffs coming into the US.

The latest example came from Ford, which announced last week that it would be forced to lay off employees as it cuts costs. Some of the impetus for the layoffs is a restructuring program the company is undertaking, but recent sales woes in China and increased material costs are also driving some of the automaker's pain.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett told an audience at a Bloomberg conference that the steel and aluminum tariffs will cost the company $1 billion in 2018 and 2019.

"From Ford’s perspective the metals tariffs took about $1 billion in profit from us," Hackett said. "The irony of which is we source most of that in the US today anyway. If it goes on any longer, it will do more damage."

Sales of Ford cars in China have also tanked in 2018 — the company reported a 43% decline for the month of September compared to the same month in 2017, as well as a 30% fall during the first nine months of the year compared to the same time period in 2017. 

BMW is facing similar problems

BMW, which produces its X3 and X5 SUVs at a plant in Greer, South Carolina, is dealing with similar Chinese sales woes because of the trade war.

The South Carolina-made BMW models are hugely popular in China but are also now subject to retaliatory tariffs from the Chinese government that came in response to Trump's duties on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.

It appears the tariffs are slowing down BMW's exports, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.  Auto exports from the Port of Charleston dived roughly 35% in August compared to the same month in 2017, according to the Post and Courier. And auto exports are down over 30% from the port in the first two months of the trade war kicking off in earnest.

Much of the auto exports from South Carolina are the BMWs and $2.4 billion of the $6.3 billion shipped from Charleston to China in 2017 were BMWs.

"The continuing international trade conflicts are aggravating the market situation and feeding uncertainty," BMW told The Post and Courier.

Other factors contributed to the decrease, such as BMW's shift to a new generation of its X5 — one of the most popular models from the South Carolina plant —  but the company said the tariffs were a significant reason for the slowdown in sales to China.

'Hundreds of millions of dollars in new, unplanned cost'

Rick Schostek, executive vice president for Honda North America, expressed similar concerns about the steel tariffs during a Senate Finance Committee hearing in late September.

"So, while we’re paying relatively little in the way of tariffs on steel, the price of domestic steel has increased as a result of the tariff, saddling us with hundreds of millions of dollars in new, unplanned cost," Schostek said.

In both cases, the increased costs are due to the tariffs but also their second-order effects. Schostek told the committee that 90% of Honda's steel used in US cars is domestic. But as the tariffs have pushed up prices for imported steel, domestic steel producers have increased their prices.

In the background of these losses is the looming threat of an even bigger hit to automakers. The Trump administration is researching the possibility of imposing tariffs on imported autos and auto parts, a move almost every single automaker has warned would wreck the industry.





The Opinion Poll

National Weather

Click on map for forecast