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Morning Update: Canada Will Hotbox The Continent

Weed becomes legal in Canada, Republican rifts over the Khashoggi case, suburban women voters break with Trump. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, Oct. 17.

Posted on October 17, 2018, at 7:33 a.m. ET

Trump is giving Saudi Arabia the benefit of the doubt in Khashoggi case, but other Republicans aren’t

The story of Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance — and likely murder — is exposing rifts in how to treat basic international relations norms.

Quick refresher, please. Khashoggi is a dissident Saudi journalist who wrote a column for the Washington Post. He was living in self-imposed exile in the US. He walked in to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for simple paperwork, and hasn’t been seen since.

What happened to him? We don’t know. Turkish officials and police say they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate by a team of assassins sanctioned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi Arabia’s story is that the journalist left through the back door.

What does President Donald Trump have to do with this? Well, the White House and the State Department seem to be laying the groundwork to allow senior Saudi officials to evade responsibility for Khashoggi’s likely murder. Lawmakers, on the other hand, want harsh retaliation against Saudi Arabia.

Give me examples, please. Trump told AP, “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that.” He even compared the accusations against Prince Mohammed to those against Brett Kavanaugh. Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham said, “I can never do business with Saudi Arabia again. I’m not going back to Saudi Arabia as long as this guy’s in charge.”

Why does this matter? The US provides Saudi Arabia with military assistance. The two countries finalized an arms deal worth an estimated $350 billion over the next decade. Criticizing Saudi Arabia could push the country to find alternatives to the US. On the other hand, not speaking up might mean letting the kingdom literally get away with murder.

Suburban women are fed up with the Republican party and could drive a blue wave

Since Trump was elected, many politically moderate suburban women have turned their backs on the Republican Party.

Many told us they expected Republicans would moderate the president, not tolerate him. The last two years have led to many of them becoming politically engaged for the first time in their lives.

Simply put, the 2018 midterm elections hinge on voters like them. If Democrats take Congress, it’ll be suburban women’s interests that get them there: less socialism, more education reform; less Medicare for All, more Affordable Care Act; less political battling, more bipartisanship.

Read Molly Hensley-Clancy’s excellent analysis of these voters who no longer have faith that Republicans can keep Trump’s worst impulses in check.


Authorities are searching for a 13-year-old girl after her parents were found dead. Jayme Closs has not been seen since the bodies of her parents, James and Denise Closs, were discovered in their rural home outside Barron, in northwest Wisconsin, early on Monday morning. The local sheriff said, “We don’t know how far she could have gone or if someone took her. … We just know we have a violent crime scene and we’re missing a 13-year-old girl.” The sheriff stressed that the girl is not listed as a suspect “as of now,” but that deputies are focused “on finding a 13-year-old, scared girl.”

An Uber driver was charged for allegedly kidnapping and groping a passenger after she fell asleep in the back seat. Authorities said a woman in New York City called for an Uber to head to White Plains, New York. According to the complaint, the woman fell asleep during the ride and the driver changed her destination on the app from White Plains to Boston. When she woke up, the car was stopped and the driver, 24-year-old Harbir Parmar, was allegedly sitting next to her with his hand under her shirt, touching her breast. Prosecutors allege the driver also took the woman’s phone, left her on the side of a highway, and still charged her more than $1,000 for the ride.

Canada is reportedly going to offer pardons to everyone convicted of simple marijuana possession. As of today, weed is now legal in Canada, making it the largest country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana. In addition to legalization coming into effect, Canada is also planning to announce a pathway for people convicted of possession of cannabis to get criminal pardons. News outlets have reported that criminal records won't be expunged, but that officials will outline ways for people who were convicted of possession of 30 grams or less to pursue a pardon.

The head of USA Gymnastics is resigning after four days of controversy. Mary Bono was brought in as interim president of the organization just four days ago as USA Gymnastics tries to recover from its sexual abuse scandal. After four tumultuous days on the job, Bono is stepping down over a tweet speaking out against Nike and its support of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. As survivors, gymnasts, and fans discussed whether Bono was right for the job, a tweet from September surfaced where Bono had protested Nike’s ad featuring Kaepernick.

Disturbing video shows a Florida city commissioner shooting a man he thought was shoplifting. Michael Dunn, 47, shot and killed Cristobal Lopez, 50, outside the Vets Army & Navy Surplus store in Lakeland, Florida, according to the Lakeland Police Department. Dunn, who is a a co-owner of the business, said he witnessed Lopez attempt to shoplift a hatchet. Dunn adds that Lopez threatened him with the hatchet when he was confronted. The graphic surveillance video of the deadly incident was released as authorities investigate whether Dunn should be charged for the killing, which he claims was in self-defense.

Meet the parents of the Instagram-famous mixed-race babies

How do you feel about putting your children on social media? It’s not an easy question to answer, because there is no right answer.

Whatever your answer is, save it until after you read this fascinating deep dive into communities and pages on Instagram that dedicate their time to posting and sharing pictures of mixed-race children — and making money in the process.

Beyond the hashtags like #mixedkidzIG and #swirl, and the babies with 100,000 followers, there’s the community aspect of it: Parents of mixed-race kids say they’ve found each other through these pages, which is important because many are experiencing mixed-race reality for the first time.

Then there are the critics — the accounts are often called out for fetishizing the mixing of races or only valuing ethnic minorities when they are combined with whiteness. The conversation is heated.

It’s impossible to have any chill while watching this little boy rubbing Prince Harry’s beard and hugging Meghan Markle

First things first: I’m a royal skeptic. You should know this about me. I’m not anti-royals, I just have a cool, distant relationship to royal fever.

So I regret to inform you that this story made even my very cool demeanor crack.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to you, H&M to me — are currently on tour in Australia. During one of the stops, a little boy seemingly broke protocol to rub Prince Harry’s beard and give him a hug, before giving Meghan a hug.

And it is genuinely the cutest thing I’ve seen today. He’s just so overwhelmed with emotion. You should really watch the video, but here’s a sneak peek:

Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.