Current Events (10/25/18): Khashoggi, Caravans, Voting in Afghanistan and ACT scores

Anna Kaganova, Editor

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Jamal Khashoggi

Jamal Khashoggi in March 2018. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

This Sunday, Saudi Arabia confessed that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered, blaming a “rogue operation” for the killing. Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Fox News the act was a “tremendous mistake” and denied the influential crown prince ordered the killing. Initially, following the news of Khashoggi’s disappearance more than two weeks ago, Saudi Arabia asserted that Mr. Khashoggi was alive.

Thursday, before these news came out, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said that he will not be attending Saudi Arabia’s big investment conference next week. President Donald Trump also said there would be “very severe” consequences for the Saudis if they’re found responsible, before adding, “But we’ll see what happens.” The situation is deeply problematic for the US because it has had close ties with Saudi Arabia for decades, but with the latest murder it faces losing the respect of the international community if it continues supporting the Arab country.

Jamal Khashoggi was a well-known Saudi journalist who moved to the US, obtaining the status of a permanent resident, and became a columnist for the Washington Post. Last time he was seen, he was walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get paperwork to marry his fianceé. He’s been missing ever since. Turkish officials believe he was murdered by a team of Saudi agents inside the building and say they have evidence, including gruesome audio recordings, to back this up. Khashoggi recently became a critic of the Saudi government after previously having close relations with the Saudi royal family. Still, it is uncertain why exactly Khashoggi was killed.

The Caravan

President Trump threatened to cut aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador unless the countries halted the caravan of about 1,000 migrants from Honduras, who on Sunday crossed from Guatemala into Mexico.  In response, the President warned Mexico that he would call up the U.S. military, close the border and risk the new NAFTA-like trade deal unless Mexico took action to stop the caravan. Mexico had been trying to slowly process asylum requests in small groups, in some cases providing 45-day visitor permits. But thousands of the migrants grew impatient, circumventing the bureaucracy and crossing over on makeshift rafts or just swimming into Mexico undeterred by border authorities.

Many of the migrants cited poverty, corruption and gang violence in Honduras for their flight. The caravan grew from 1,000 people to up to 5,000 migrants by this Sunday. We are yet to see how the situation progresses and how the US responds to the upcoming migrants.


In Afghanistan…

A female election observer in Afghanistan. Image courtesy of Pixino.

Thursday, a gunman opened fire at a regional governor’s compound in southern Afghanistan province of Kandahar – a stronghold of the Taliban. A top regional police chief, Gen. Abdul Raziq, and an intelligence chief were killed. General Raziq was a top US ally in the area and instrumental to maintaining security in the province. The top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller, narrowly escaped injury. The shooter was a bodyguard for the governor of Kandahar. The Taliban claimed responsibility. The assassination took place just two days before national elections, already undermined by violence and threat of terror attacks at voting sites. The voting in Kandahar and a number of other Afghani provinces, however, was delayed by a week due to the latest violence in the country.

This weekend, 4 million people voted in Afghanistan, roughly half of the eligible voter base in the country. The election was the first parliamentary polls in eight years. This weekend’s polls is also the first election since the 2014 presidential election, which was plagued by accusations of widespread fraud and dragged on for several months. At least 28 people have been killed in violent incidents across Afghanistan as people voted Saturday, officials said.

Ahead of the vote, the Taliban had warned Afghans not to participate in what they called “an American project from start to finish.” Yet, after the polls closed on Sunday, President Ashraf Ghani thanked the Afghan people for such a large turnout despite the great security risks involved.



A new report released by the ACT shows that less than half (40%) of 2018 graduates taking the test were ready a college-level algebra class. That is down from 41% last year and a high of 46% in 2012. The percentage of students meeting college-ready benchmarks dropped slightly in all subjects tested—English, math, reading and science. The ACT Chief Executive says that “the math curriculum needs to be modernized with more time dedicated to the subject in schools”. So is this why I bombed my AP Calc test?