Beyond the Bricks: Week of 10/22
by Abby Bratton | published Oct. 28th, 2018
Mail Bombs Target Well-Known Democrats
A series of pipe bombs mailed to Democratic public figures and vocal critics of the Trump administration have been intercepted over the course of this past week. None of the explosives detonated, but officials are still treating the bombs as “live devices” rather than a hoax, The Associated Press reported.
The first mail bomb was sent to billionaire George Soros, and was discovered on Oct. 22, 2018. As of Oct. 25, 10 similar packages targeting eight different people have been found. This number includes packages intercepted by the Secret Service that were intended for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Another device addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan was sent to CNN headquarters in New York, resulting in an evacuation of the building.
Additional intended recipients were Rep. Maxine Waters, who was sent two of the devices, and former Attorney General Eric Holder. The package sent to Holder ended up at the office of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, who was listed as the return address. On Thursday Oct. 25, three similar suspicious packages were seized, two of which were addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden. The third was addressed to actor Robert DeNiro.
The bombs were discovered in manila envelopes, as seen in an image released by the FBI. The packages found on Oct. 24 contained six-inch-long PVC pipes packed with broken glass and powder that were attached to a smaller device with wires and tape. According to The Associated Press, some evidence suggests one or more of the packages may have been mailed from Florida, which led to the arrest of Cesar Sayoc, who is expected to be charged in connection to the mailing of the packages.
Casualties from Jordanian Flash Floods
Flash flooding near the Dead Sea in Jordan killed at least 17 people this week following days of heavy rain, BBC News reported. Most of the victims were on a school bus that was swept off the road while on its way to the Zara Maeen hot springs area, a tourist location. A rescue operation was launched to recover the 37 students and seven staff members on the bus. 34 of these passengers were recovered as of the evening of Oct. 25, some severely injured. Members of families visiting the hot springs also number among the casualties. The rescue operation was conducted with assistance from the Israeli military.
Ethiopia Appoints First Female President
Sahle-Work Zewde was sworn in as Ethiopia’s first female president on Oct. 25. Sahle-Work was appointed as a special representative to the African Union and head of the United Nations Office of the African Union earlier this year. Previously, she has held a variety of diplomatic positions, including the director-general of the United Nations Office in Nairobi and the Ethiopian ambassador to both France and Djibouti. While the prime minister holds most of the executive power in Ethiopia, the president retains the ability to grant pardons, appoint ambassadors and receive foreign diplomats.
Sahle-Work’s presidential appointment came shortly after a series of changes made to the country’s Cabinet by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Its membership was lowered from 28 ministers to 20, half of whom are women. NPR quoted Abiy’s chief of staff Fitsum Arega as tweeting, "In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also [normalizes] women as decision-makers in public life."
Updates on Death of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi
Officials from Saudi Arabia stated on Oct. 25 that the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi appears to have been premeditated. Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Saudi authorities denied knowledge of his whereabouts for weeks, despite investigations by Turkish officials that suggested he had been killed after arriving at the building. Last week, authorities claimed that he had been killed by rogue operatives by mistake during a fight. Only days later, their official story changed to the current one, aligning with evidence from the Turkish investigation. Khashoggi’s body has yet to be located and his family has left Saudi Arabia for the United States.