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October 23, 2018

CIA Director Gina Haspel flew to Turkey on Monday, ahead of a speech by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about Turkey's evidence that Saudi Arabia murdered and dismembered journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Istanbul's Saudi consulate on Oct. 2, The Washington Post reports, citing people familiar with the matter. "The arrival of the director suggests an effort by the U.S. intelligence community to assess the information the Turks have," including purported audio recordings of Khashoggi's killing, the Post says. "Intelligence officials are increasingly skeptical of the Saudi account and have warned President Trump" to take the Saudis' explanations with a large grain of salt.

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia finally acknowledged that Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and U.S. resident, had died inside its consulate, but claimed it was due to a fight gone awry with rogue agents and that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no involvement with the plan. Evidence keeps emerging to cast doubt on that story. On Monday, Trump said he's "not satisfied with what I've heard" from Saudi officials, adding: "We have top intelligence people in Turkey. We're going to see what we have. I'll know a lot tomorrow."

The Trump administration and Saudi allies in the region, including Israel and the United Arab Emirates, have vested interests bin Salman and other Saudi royalty being uninvolved in the scandalous murder. "The chief concern for Washington is that Erdogan will reveal details about Khashoggi's killing that implicate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, who has been a key ally for the Trump administration," the Post notes. Peter Weber

2:35 p.m.

One of the most famous scenes in recent true crime history was actually fairly misleading, new court documents suggest.

HBO's 2015 documentary The Jinx, which investigates whether real estate heir Robert Durst is responsible for several murders, ended with a stunning twist. In the final scene, the filmmakers reveal that they captured audio of Durst seemingly confessing on a hot mic he didn't realize was still on. While in the bathroom, Durst can be heard saying, "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course." The day before that final episode aired on HBO, Durst was arrested, and he's currently on trial for the murder of his friend Susan Berman.

But court documents have now revealed that Durst's infamous quote was edited, The New York Times reports. According to a transcript of the recording, Durst did not actually say that last line as one thought. Instead, he said "Killed them all, of course," and then later, "What the hell did I do?" The version in the documentary suggests Durst is answering his own question and describing what he did, while the transcript paints a different picture.

The Jinx editor Zac Stuart-Pontier defended the scene, though, telling the Times that "killed them all, of course" was placed where it was simply to "end the series on a dramatic note." He says the filmmakers didn't think of it as being an answer to the question, "What the hell did I do?"

The Times notes that Durst did say other potentially damaging things in that last scene, including "There it is, you're caught," which he said immediately after director Andrew Jarecki confronted him with evidence that seemed it could implicate him in a murder. But the editing of these last lines is now being scrutinized in the Durst trial, with his attorneys looking to have all evidence obtained during the documentary thrown out. Durst's trial is set to begin on September 3. Brendan Morrow

2:33 p.m.

The World Health Organization shared some startling news on Wednesday — kids, it turns out, should spend more time outside than looking at screens.

New guidelines issued by the United Nations agency say that children younger than one year old should not be exposed to any electronic screens, while those in the two-to-four-year age range should have no more than one hour of "sedentary" screen time per day. The Washington Post reports the announcement stems from growing research into the developmental effects computers and mobile devices have on children — notably that the "mesmerizing effects of videos" can reportedly keep children from connecting with their parents. But there are also concerns that too much screen time can affect the development of language skills.

The argument for less screen time didn't appear out of the blue. After all, there is a growing sentiment that all humans, not just children, are too reliant on technology instead of healthy social interaction. But the WHO getting its two cents in on the matter is a bit of a novelty.

"It's extraordinarily important that someone with the authority and reach of the WHO is saying this," Josh Golin of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood told the Post.

The WHO says it's also important, screens or no screens, that infants and young children should not remain sedentary or "restrained" for too long, BBC reports. Instead, physical activity is key.

That said, some researchers aren't quite convinced that the WHO's guidelines are necessary. "The restricted screen time limits suggested by the WHO do not seem proportionate to the potential harm," Max Davie from the The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in the United Kingdom told BBC. Tim O'Donnell

2:23 p.m.

Pete Buttigieg is no Bernie Bro.

The upstart presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, mayor told The New York Times that he has a "hard time" seeing Americans "ultimately coming together" to vote for his competitor Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a general election against President Trump in November 2020.

Buttigieg's reasoning, the Times reports, is that Sanders' left-wing proposals are no longer as "provocative" as they were when Sanders ran against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary, which he ultimately lost. "People were refreshed by the novelty of that boldness," said Buttigieg. But that was then.

Sanders' campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, responded to Buttigieg's comments, telling the Times the senator's "unifying progressive agenda" best-positioned him to beat Trump in the general election.

The Times also reports that Buttigieg, while speaking to high school students in New Hampshire, went so far as to call Sanders supporters and Trump supporters "two sides of the same coin," suggesting both wanted to "blow up the system" in 2016. Buttigieg, it seems, is aiming to employ more hopeful rhetoric in his campaign, taking a page from former President Barack Obama's book. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

2:21 p.m.

Twenty-nine years ago today, on April 24, 1990, NASA launched its brand-new Hubble Space Telescope into orbit around Earth. Since then, it's been consistent in giving us stunning pictures and data from outer space, having made hundreds of thousands of rounds around our planet. In total, it's traveled over 4 billion miles, made over 1.3 million observations, and contributed to more than 15,000 scientific papers. So today, it's time to celebrate.

To mark the occasion of the Hubble's anniversary in orbit, NASA has released a never-before-seen image of the Southern Crab Nebula, an outer space cloud of dust and gas that lives several thousand light years from Earth. The image shows off the distinct hourglass shape of the Southern Crab Nebula, formed because of the pair of stars in its middle.

This stunning picture is a testament to the incredible trove of data that Hubble has collected over the years, with amazing attention to detail: The telescope's mechanism has the power to detect the equivalent of "a human hair seen at a distance of 1 mile," with the accuracy of "being able to shine a laser beam on President Roosevelt’s head on a dime about 200 miles away," NASA explained.

See the Hubble Space Telescope's latest image, and learn more about its contributions to our study of outer space, in the video below. Shivani Ishwar

Shivani Ishwar

1:53 p.m.

As numerous Fox projects are brought under the Disney umbrella, not all of them may survive intact.

Steven Spielberg's upcoming West Side Story remake is one of a number of films that had been in the works at Fox prior to the recent Disney sale. But The Hollywood Reporter reports that some of these projects "are being met with scrutiny," with Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn reportedly "questioning the apparent plan to have young characters smoking onscreen" in West Side Story.

Disney has indicated it will continue releasing R-rated movies like Deadpool under the Fox banner and just not branding them as family-friendly Disney movies, so it's unclear whether this means the studio is now eying West Side Story as a traditional Disney release. If that's the case, Horn has suggested that smoking wouldn't be allowed. The Reporter quotes a previous interview the Disney chief gave in which he named Bohemian Rhapsody as a movie Disney couldn't release before the Fox purchase because it includes smoking and "there are certain things we just can't include because we'll get letters."

Additional details about this apparent smoking dispute weren't available, but the good news is that West Side Story is at least moving forward. As the Reporter notes, other projects that were previously in the works at Fox but are being purged from Disney's slate weren't so lucky. Brendan Morrow

1:29 p.m.

John Delaney might be the most hopeful 2020 hopeful out there.

Despite being the first Democrat to launch a 2020 run back in 2017, the former Maryland congressmember has failed to gain any ground in the many 2020 primary polls since. So in what's probably another futile attempt to generate some buzz, Delaney has launched a campaign to "#UnfollowTrump" on Twitter "and hit him where it actually hurts him ... his ego."

The call to arms went out to Delaney's 19,500 Twitter followers, as well as his mailing list of unknown proportions. Even if all those people followed Delaney's directive, there's a strong chance Trump, with his 59.9 million-user following growing every day, wouldn't even notice the difference. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:17 p.m.

Avengers: Endgame could soar to unprecedented box office heights.

Experts expect the Marvel sequel to surpass Avengers: Infinity War's opening weekend of $257 million, with many predicting a gross of between $260 million and $270 million. That would be enough to give the movie the new biggest domestic opening in history.

But it could beat even these lofty expectations, with Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter writing that a stunning $300 million domestic opening might be on the table. Only six movies in history have even achieved a domestic opening greater than $200 million. Not everyone is convinced a $300 million debut is actually possible, though.

Endgame is also eying a global debut of at least between $850 million and $900 million, the Reporter notes, which would be a new record. This seems like a fairly conservative estimate, but The Wrap and Deadline suggest it could climb as high a $1 billion, thanks in part to the fact that it's opening in China and the U.S. in the same week.

In terms of final worldwide gross, Endgame looks likely to at the very least surpass Infinity War's $2 billion total. But by how much? In light of the glowing critical reviews and record-breaking opening day in China, it's not unreasonable to think that despite the summer competition, it could edge past Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Titanic to become the second highest-grossing movie ever made.

To do so, Endgame would need to increase Infinity War's box office earnings by about 7 percent, which would take it past Titanic to $2.2 billion. For comparison, the final Harry Potter installment increased its predecessor's worldwide gross by about 40 percent. But could the intimidating three-hour running time make beating Titanic a difficult feat?

Given the massive hype surrounding Endgame, one thing's for sure: if it falls short of that insane $300 million U.S. opening and $1 billion global debut, don't expect another film to achieve that milestone anytime soon. Brendan Morrow

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