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The Khashoggi Killing Creates Differences Between Trump And U.S. Lawmakers

Numerous U.S. lawmakers have said they intend to push for U.S. sanctions against Saudi Arabia because of Khashoggi's killing.

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A man holds a poster showing images of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman (L), dubbed "assassin," and of journalist writer Jamal Khashoggi, dubbed "martyr," during a prayer service for Khashoggi, in Istanbul, Turkey. VOA
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Several U.S. lawmakers broke with President Donald Trump on Sunday, disagreeing with his assessment that it was uncertain whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the killing of a Saudi dissident journalist inside Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul.

Congressman Adam Schiff, set to become the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee when Democrats take control of the House in January, told CNN, “I have been briefed by the CIA and, while I cannot discuss the contents of the briefing in any way, I can say that I think the president is being dishonest with the American people.”

Schiff said, “It causes our standing in the world to plummet, it telegraphs to despots around the world that they can murder people with impunity, and that this president will have their back as long as they praise him.”

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Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters after a news conference in Washington. VOA

Trump last week said the U.S. would stand by Saudi Arabia and that he did not know whether the crown prince had knowledge in advance of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. While living in the U.S., Khashoggi wrote opinion columns for The Washington Post that were critical of Mohammed bin Salman and Riyadh’s involvement in the long-running Yemen conflict.

“It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said.

Trump concluded, “In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.”

Saudi Arabia has indicted 11 of its agents in connection with the Khashoggi killing, with five of them facing the death penalty if convicted.

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U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey during a bill-signing ceremony at the White House in Washington. VOA

Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, also disputed Trump’s equivocation on whether the crown prince had knowledgeable of the Khashoggi killing.

“I disagree with the president’s assessment,” Lee told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It’s inconsistent with the intelligence I’ve seen,” which implicates the crown prince.

Human rights factor

Another Republican, Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, said on CNN, “I do think we need to look into this further.” She said that while Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner of the U.S., “We also are a very strong nation when it comes to human rights, when it comes to the rule of law. And if there are indicators that the [crown] prince was involved in this murder, then we need to absolutely consider further action.”

Ernst said she did not think Trump was exonerating Saudi Arabia, but added, “I think at such a time when it becomes necessary, the president also needs to speak directly to the Saudis and say enough is enough.”

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Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, returns to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing after a break on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a frequent Trump critic, said on Fox News, “Making the realist case (about the need for a U.S.-Saudi alliance) is a different thing than being so weak that we failed to tell the truth.” He said Mohammed bin Salman “contributed to murdering somebody abroad and it is not strength to sort of mumble past that. Strength is telling the truth even when it’s hard.”

Numerous U.S. lawmakers have said they intend to push for U.S. sanctions against Saudi Arabia because of Khashoggi’s killing. Trump, in his statement last week, said, “I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America.”

Also Read: Khashoggi Report To Be Reviewed By U.S. President Donald Trump Soon

He said, “After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels – so important for the world. As president of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!”. (VOA)

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Googling ‘idiot’ Bringing up Donald Trump Pictures Drags Google in Trouble

The House committee had also questioned YouTube, Twitter and Facebook executives at separate hearings on bias in big tech

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Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing "examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices" on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

US Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, in an effort to understand how Google search algorithms work, asked its CEO Sundar Pichai why so many pictures of President Donald Trump appear when she does a Google search for “idiot”.

“Right now, if you Google the word ‘idiot’ under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up. I just did that,” the California Democrat told Pichai during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday here.

“How would that happen? How does search work so that would occur?” Lofgren asked Pichai, according to the Washington Post.

The Google CEO — who was at the hearing to address allegations of political bias in his company’s widely used search engine — said the results were based on billions of keywords ranked according to over 200 factors such as relevance, popularity, how others were using the search term, to determine how to best match a query with results.

“So it’s not some little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we’re going to show the user?” Lofgren asked. “It’s basically a compilation of what users are generating.”

Republicans have long accused Google of political bias, which the company has strongly denied.

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Why googling ‘idiot’ brings up Trump photos, Congresswoman asks Pichai. VOA

In August, Trump said in a tweet that a Google search for “Trump News” showed only reports from “Fake News Media.” He concluded it was “rigged” against him so “almost all stories and news was bad.”

House Republicans said they wanted to hold the hearing — entitled “Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices” — to make sure the search giant was being impartial.

“Americans put their trust in big tech companies to honour freedom of speech and champion open dialogue,” Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia said in a statement before the hearing.

The House committee had also questioned YouTube, Twitter and Facebook executives at separate hearings on bias in big tech.

Also Read- Vivo To Invest Rs 4,000 Crore For New Plant in Uttar Pradesh

In response to Republicans who complained about Google searches, Democratic Representative Ted Lieu said: “If you want positive search results, do positive things. If you don’t want negative search results, don’t do negative things.”

“And to some of my colleagues across the aisle, if you’re getting bad press articles and bad search results, don’t blame Google or Facebook or Twitter, consider blaming yourself.” (IANS)