Monday, November 19, 2018

The Best of the Lousiest, and the Lousiest of the Best

The Case for Mediocracy

Suppose a company wants to fill a job. They would advertise it together with the requirements for any successful candidate. HR would screen out all the applicants not good enough to do the job and everyone else’s name would go into a lottery.
Do you find this prospect upsetting? Perhaps you think it is unfair for someone to get a job without a good reason for why they deserve it rather than anyone else. Perhaps you think such a system would decrease your chances of getting the job you want. If so then you may be under the influence of the cult of excellence.

Excellence is the false religion of our time. Like all cults it fosters unhealthy and delusional behaviour, and benefits only a handful of insiders. We need to throw it out, reconcile ourselves to the essential truth that none of us is particularly special, and build a society fit for that.

The first problem with excellence is that we use it in a purely relative sense, to rank ourselves against each other to decide for who gets what. This turns society into a race in which we are trained to see each other as competitors for scarce resources rather than as fellows in a community of equals. Over time the race to the top takes over more institutions and more of our lives. In education, for example, cramming schools appear to help kids get into the right preschools, while a whole industry of consultants exists to help rich high-schoolers write their Ivy League application essays. In such a toxic meritocracy no one has the time or compassion to help the less fortunate. Winners congratulate themselves on their wonderfulness, as proven by their salaries, but retain an existential anxiety about their position. Losers blame themselves for not running faster. Inequality rockets.

Does society at least work better by stimulating and rewarding a competition for excellence? Only up to a point. One problem is that the pursuit of excellence can easily become excessive and actually prevent people from doing their jobs well. In my corner of academia, for example, it is not unusual to get 200 applicants for the best tenure track positions. These jobs are always advertised as requiring proven international excellence – but only in research, although the actual job will be 2/3 teaching. Junior academics recognize the implicit message: every hour you spend teaching students is an hour lost to building your career prospects. The outcome of 20 years of intense competition between universities for international rankings is that I routinely meet final year students who have never written an essay and have never had a university class that did not consist of powerpoint slides being read aloud. (They can get very annoyed with me.)

The second problem is that excellence is hard to judge. Thus, although nearly all organisations consider the pursuit of excellence to be their fiduciary duty, they have difficulty turning this mantra into action. For example, managers tasked with hiring/promoting ‘the best person for the job’ quickly run out of job-relevant criteria and end up recycling conventional prejudices about what successful people look and talk like (posh white men) and the prestige of their previous schools and employers (in the hope that someone else’s judgement will be more reliable). Hiring committees feel they have to come to a final decision that is justified by the merits of the winning candidate, even when they long ago ran out of sensible criteria for comparing candidates.

It was once naively assumed that machine learning artificial intelligence could finally optimise such decisions, since algorithms don’t have humans’ unconscious biases or cognitive limitations. But in practice this technique often amplifies existing prejudices. Machine learning works by finding the key correlations between job applications and the decisions of human recruiters that account for most of the positively valued results. So if your company favours male applicants then an AI system trained on historic data about what your company counts as success will explicitly weight applications from men higher than women’s (as happened at Amazon).

Our meritocracy of excellence does not succeed in its own terms. It neither improves institutional performance nor rewards those who contribute most to societal flourishing. It mainly benefits those from the right backgrounds and who actually enjoy deriving their self-worth from a competition for social status. Hence the need for a mediocracy.

Mediocracy is both more idealistic and more realistic than our current meritocracy. Idealistic because it views society as a cooperative community of equals rather than a competition to get ahead of and above each other. And it claims that an ideal of good enough is actually better than an ideal of personal excellence. Realistic because it is based on the truth that none of us is particularly special, and if we happen to achieve anything worthwhile we should attribute that to good luck. It rejects the meritocratic fantasy (so similar to prosperity theology) that the universe will recognize your special gifts and reach out to reward you through the magical invisible hand of capitalism.

In a mediocracy people do the jobs they are good enough for and get good enough rewards. A mediocracy does not seek to eliminate status hierarchies, but to contain them, by reducing the number of goods distributed according to social status and by breaking the link between relative status and self-worth. For example, goods like decent housing and health care should be a universal right rather than a privilege of winners, and some positional goods like jobs should be allocated by lottery. A mediocracy is a better society because empathy, fairness and even genuine excellence flourish there.

First, reducing the significance of status hierarchies in how one’s whole life goes allows us to look up from our own grasping self-interested tunnel vision and see other people and their needs. Middle-class parents for example have become so terrified of any possible threat to their children’s future life chances that they pay vast amounts to live in areas with no poor (non-white) pupils who might possibly bring down their children’s GPA. In a mediocracy, parents can afford to relax their narrow focus on their own children and consider the needs of others and of building a flourishing integrated society. More generally, distinguishing between luck (which is about the role of circumstances) and desert (which is about personal achievement) allows us to participate together in projects to reduce everyone’s vulnerability to bad luck.

Second, our current toxic meritocracy systematically disadvantages those people lacking the characteristics deemed prestigious by society. Hence the increasing rarity of women, people of colour, and working class backgrounds as you get further up the org charts. (It also discriminates against those – like me – who find competition distasteful.) This is unfair. Using a lottery to allocate jobs and promotions among good enough candidates would overcome this fairness problem where previously attempted affirmative action policies like diversity quotas and mentoring have failed.

Finally, and somewhat paradoxically, a mediocracy might actually produce more excellence in the absolute sense. The cult of excellence distracts vast amounts of our attention, distorts our institutions, and dumps most of society’s resources on those who have the least need of them. In our individual jobs, for example, many of us spend a lot of time worrying about whether other people think we are good enough to deserve to be there. In a mediocracy that worry would disappear, because we would already know that no one got their job because they deserved it. With that weight off our shoulders we would be free to direct our attention to what doing a good job actually demands. We would know that we have been granted an opportunity and what we make of it is up to us.

Thomas R. Wells blogs on philosophy, politics, and economics at The Philosopher’s Beard.
I don't buy this argument.  Which is why I inserted the picture of Morgan Freeman with a quote. If you assume that excellence equals white, male and rich Mr. Wells might have a point.  But it doesn't.  

Excellence is not hard to judge.  You simply need to observe the effectiveness and sense of the person described as excellent. Excellence shines, and should be rewarded.  Our schools have been corrupted by the dumbing-down effects of the "Everyone Is Special."   In the movie "The Incredibles" Dash is muzzled and hampered by the ideology.  And he replies to his mother when she says "Everyone is special," by responding  "Which means NO ONE is special."

The results of our recent mid-term elections are a case in point.  Unprecedented numbers of people of color, women and LGBT were elected to important posts.  This is a good thing.  But it will not stop me from evaluating their excellence by their work at those posts.  If they are mediocre, they should be voted out when their terms expire. We need lawmakers and leaders of excellence.     


In wake of deadly California wildfire, life goes on for a hardy few among smoldering ruins

The Japan Times  by John Locher and Brian Melley  AP
Brad Weldon lost his home to fire when he was a kid, so when a deadly wildland blaze came roaring toward his ranch house in the pines where he lives with his 89-year-old blind mother, he wasn’t going to let disaster strike twice.

Weldon and his mother’s caregiver, armed only with a garden hose and buckets, successfully fought the flames for 24 hours. At times, they had to lie down in the dirt to “avoid burning up” as 60 mph (97 kph) winds drove flames through the forest.

Having saved his home in Paradise, Weldon’s not leaving what he now calls the “hell zone.”

“If they take me out of here, it will be at gunpoint,” Weldon said. “My mom says they’ll have to beat her ass, too. She ain’t going without a fight.”

Weldon is among a small group of fire survivors who have defied orders to leave and decided to stick it out in the blackened and smoldering landscape. Flames leveled the town of Paradise, which is about 140 miles (225 kilometers) north of San Francisco, and much of the surrounding area, killing at least 77 people and destroying more than 10,500 homes.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said he does not know how many people are living in the evacuation zones. Deputies who encounter someone in the area will confirm they live there, but won’t necessarily take other action.

“We’re not dragging them out,” he said. “If some guy stayed at his house, I’m not going to arrest him if he’s not creating some kind of problem. I’m trying to treat people with respect and compassion.”

Honea said he is hesitant to spread that message because it might encourage people to ignore evacuation orders, which can create problems even if they survive the initial danger. He said deputies have encountered people who stayed behind and ran out of food.

It’s an audacious endeavor to stay behind in the smoky ruins with all the challenges that remain: There’s no power, no public water supply and there’s nowhere nearby to get supplies. Residents who leave to get groceries, drinking water or fuel for generators aren’t allowed to return.

The fire continues to burn and the sheriff has said there is no timeline for when people will be allowed back in the area because the scope of the destruction is unprecedented.

Patrick Knuthson, who managed to save his large metal workshop that has a small apartment inside, said he’s not planning to leave and has plenty of food and fuel to provide electricity to his living space and to pump water from his well.

Knuthson has appointed himself as a guardian in his neck of the woods on the outskirts of Paradise where only two of 22 houses remained standing on his road. He has spray-painted a sign saying “Looters will be shot!!”

“I got my neighborhood locked down,” Knuthson said. “We’re all armed. We’ll ask questions later.”

Weldon also feared looters would break into his “hicktorian” style house — a one-story ranch with ornate Victorian details inside.

“It’s a ghost town, buddy,” he said. “It’s pitch black. If you hear something, you better be on your toes because somebody’s outside your house.”

Knuthson said he knows about 40 people still living in the hills and added that he’d welcome anyone who wants to park a trailer on his large plot of land.

For a while, his cousins, Phillip and Krystin Harvey, who lost their mobile home, had been staying with their three teenage daughters in a camper, trying to hang on to a piece of the life they had known. 

At night, the victims of the Camp Fire stood by the campfire to stay warm.

When someone offered to bring supplies, 16-year-old Arissa Harvey only wanted textbooks so she wouldn’t fall behind.

Eventually the family gave up and moved to Oroville to stay with friends to have some stability and security, Knuthson said.

“They had to get out of the smoke,” Knuthson said. “To have some kind of life.”

Some stayed because they had nowhere else to go.

Troy Miller, who had tried to evacuate from his Concow home but was turned back by flames, was camping in a truck next to the metal frame that remained of his home. His horse and three dogs survived, but he has no money or insurance to rebuild.

Some passing firefighters gave Miller some drinking water, but he was hoping someone would get through the roadblocks and bring him a flashlight and some tarps for rain in the forecast.

“I’m alive and I’m still up here. There are plenty of other people worse off than I am,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of faith in God. I think things will be OK.”

Weldon said he is also staying put because he does not think there is anywhere safe he can take his ailing mother — especially now that norovirus has broken out in some shelters.

He is confident they can keep going for months with an ample pantry, gas he’s siphoning from work vehicles to power his generator and a 3,000 gallon (11,356 liter) swimming pool he’s carefully rationing the contents of for bathing and water for the toilet.

“Flush it as little as possible,” he said. “Every gallon you put down there, you can’t get back.”

There’s also the stealthy “good old mountain boy underground” that has replenished drinking water and perishable food.

“Just out of amazingness it shows up every once in a while,” Weldon said.

Untouched Fukushima No. 1 Control Room Opened to Journalists after Seven Years

The Japan Times  Kyodo
In the main control room for the crippled Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, time seems to have stood still.

That was the impression reported Thursday by the first journalists to enter the facility since the 2011 nuclear meltdowns there.

The control room’s interior is reported to have been left almost untouched since the disaster. 

Handwriting was found on the wall near an instrument used to measure water levels within the No. 3 reactor, hinting at the circumstances faced by some 10 workers who were there at the time of the crisis.

“We don’t write (on the wall) in a normal situation, so it indicates that it was an emergency,” said an official at the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

The nuclear crisis was triggered by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that flooded the facility, located on the Pacific coast, on March 11, 2011.

The No. 3 reactor suffered a fuel meltdown and a hydrogen explosion, while the No. 4 reactor, which did not have nuclear fuel inside, also exploded due to a hydrogen inflow from the nearby reactor.

In February 2014, Tepco allowed the media to view the control room for the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors, which also suffered meltdowns, but had kept the control room for the Nos. 3 and 4 closed due to high levels of radiation in the area.

Radiation levels inside the control room for Nos. 3 and 4, the floor of which is now covered by plastic sheeting, was 6 microsieverts per hour. In contrast, readings in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward on Sunday were 0.037 microsievert per hour. The control room, which now has only a few lights, is no longer in use as its functions have been transferred to a quake-resistant building.

Following the crisis, which equaled the severity of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, some 160,000 people were evacuated. More than 40,000 remained displaced as of late September.

Gibbous Moon beyond Swedish Mountain


click photo to enlarge  
Image Credit & Copyright: Göran Strand
Explanation: This is a gibbous Moon. More Earthlings are familiar with a full moon, when the entire face of Luna is lit by the Sun, and a crescent moon, when only a sliver of the Moon's face is lit. When more than half of the Moon is illuminated, though, but still short of full illumination, the phase is called gibbous. Rarely seen in television and movies, gibbous moons are quite common in the actual night sky. The featured image was taken in Jämtland, Sweden near the end of last month. That gibbous moon turned, in a few days, into a crescent moon, and then a new moon, then back to a crescent, and a few days ago back to gibbous. And this same gibbous moon is visible again tonight, leading up to the Full Beaver Moon that occurs Friday night. Setting up to capture a picturesque gibbous moonscape, the photographer was quite surprised to find an airplane, surely well in the foreground, appearing to fly past it.

Iowa Grants Gun Permits to the Blind

No one questions the legality of the permits, but some officials worry about public safety.
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Here's some news that has law enforcement officials and lawmakers scratching their heads:

Iowa is granting permits to acquire or carry guns in public to people who are legally or completely blind.

No one questions the legality of the permits. State law does not allow sheriffs to deny an Iowan the right to carry a weapon based on physical ability.

The quandary centers squarely on public safety. Advocates for the disabled and Iowa law enforcement officers disagree over whether it's a good idea for visually disabled Iowans to have weapons.

On one side: People such as Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington, who demonstrated for The Des Moines Register how blind people can be taught to shoot guns. And Jane Hudson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, who says blocking visually impaired people from the right to obtain weapon permits would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. That federal law generally prohibits different treatment based on disabilities

On the other side: People such as Dubuque County Sheriff Don Vrotsos, who said he wouldn't issue a permit to someone who is blind. And Patrick Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, who says guns may be a rare exception to his philosophy that blind people can participate fully in life.

Private gun ownership — even hunting — by visually impaired Iowans is nothing new. But the practice of visually impaired residents legally carrying firearms in public became widely possible thanks to gun permit changes that took effect in Iowa in 2011.

"It seems a little strange, but the way the law reads we can't deny them (a permit) just based on that one thing," said Sgt. Jana Abens, a spokeswoman for the Polk County Sheriff's Department, referring to a visual disability.

Polk County officials say they've issued weapons permits to at least three people who can't legally drive and were unable to read the application forms or had difficulty doing so because of visual impairments.

And sheriffs in three other counties — Jasper, Kossuth and Delaware — say they have granted permits to residents who they believe have severe visual impairments.

"I'm not an expert in vision," Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere said. "At what point do vision problems have a detrimental effect to fire a firearm? If you see nothing but a blurry mass in front of you, then I would say you probably shouldn't be shooting something."

Training the visually impaired

In one Iowa county, blind residents who want weapons would likely receive special training.
Wethington, the Cedar County sheriff, has a legally blind daughter who plans to obtain a permit to carry when she turns 21 in about two years. He demonstrated for the Register how he would train blind people who want to carry a gun.

"If sheriffs spent more time trying to keep guns out of criminals' hands and not people with disabilities, their time would be more productive," Wethington said as he and his daughter took turns practice shooting with a semi-automatic handgun on private property in rural Cedar County.

The number of visually impaired or blind Iowans who can legally carry weapons in public is unknown because that information is not collected by the state or county sheriffs who issue the permits.

Quentin DeVore, a legally blind Army veteran from Newton, Iowa photographed in March 2013, is a gun enthusiast and collector. Despite his vision impairment, DeVore holds a permit to carry a firearm, and says he is well within his legal rights to do so. (Photo: Bryon Houlgrave, The Des Moines Register)

Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, said the range of sight among people who are classified as legally blind varies greatly. He believes there are situations where such applicants can safely handle a gun.

However, he also expressed concerns.

"Although people who are blind can participate fully in nearly all life's experiences, there are some things like the operation of a weapon that may very well be an exception," Clancy said.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 and other federal laws do not prohibit blind people from owning guns. But unlike Iowa, some states have laws that spell out whether visually impaired people can obtain weapon permits.

Vision requirements are either directly or indirectly part of the weapon permit criteria in some surrounding states.

In Nebraska, for example, applicants for a permit to carry a concealed handgun must provide "proof of vision" by either presenting a valid state driver's license or a statement by an eye doctor that the person meets vision requirements set for a typical vehicle operator's license.

Other states have indirect requirements that could — but don't automatically — disqualify people who are blind. That includes Missouri and Minnesota, where applicants must complete a live fire test, which means they have to shoot and hit a target.

A 50-state database of gun permit requirements published by also shows that South Carolina has a law that requires proof of vision before a person is approved for a weapons permit.

Wisconsin, like Iowa, has no visual restrictions on gun permit applicants. Illinois lawmakers enacted a concealed weapons law in July but permits have not yet been issued. Illinois' qualifications don't specifically require a visual test, but applicants must complete firearms training that includes range instruction.

The National Federation of the Blind does not track states that require vision tests as part of weapon permit processes and has not taken an official stand on the issue. But its members are generally opposed to such laws, said Chris Danielsen, director of public relations for the group.

"There's no reason solely on the (basis) of blindness that a blind person shouldn't be allowed to carry a weapon," Danielsen said. "Presumably they're going to have enough sense not to use a weapon in a situation where they would endanger other people, just like we would expect other people to have that common sense."

Iowa requires training for anyone who is issued a permit to carry a weapon in public, but that requirement can be satisfied through an online course that does not include any hands-on instruction or a shooting test.

A provision in Iowa's law allows sheriffs to deny a permit if probable cause exists to believe that the person is likely to use the weapon in such a way that it would endanger themselves or others. Many sheriffs noted, however, that the provision relates to specific documented actions, and applicants who appealed their cases would likely win.

Hudson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, believes changing the state law to deny blind people or others with physical disabilities the right to carry arms would violate federal disabilities law.

Part of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires a public entity to conduct an individualized analysis to make a reasonable judgment before denying a service. Hudson believes someone could successfully challenge Nebraska's proof of vision requirement as illegal.

"The fact that you can't drive a car doesn't mean you can't go to a shooting range and see a target," Hudson said.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

California Wildfires: Why Are So Many Listed as Missing?

The number of missing jumped from 110, to 220, to 631 on Thursday before going over 1,000. Reuters

BBC 11/18/18

Over the last few days the number of people unaccounted for in the deadly Camp Fire in northern California has skyrocketed to more than 1,200. 

The sudden jump has led to some confusion among locals and officials alike.

The confirmed death toll of 76 is already a state record, so could this huge number of missing people really still be added to that?

The answer is not so simple, as authorities in the worst-hit area, Butte County, have openly admitted.

On Friday, when the list first soared to over 1,000, Sheriff Kory Honea described the database as "dynamic".

"The information I am providing you is raw data and we find there is the likely possibility that the list contains duplicate names," the sheriff said on Friday.

Officials say the large fluctuation is occurring as investigators try to compile all the missing person reports from calls, reports and emails since the fire began on 8 November.

The fire spread rapidly, and many have reported having only minutes to gather their loved ones to try and escape through congested roads.
Because of the intensity of the fire, officials have warned the full recovery may take weeks as hundreds of specialists and cadaver dogs use reports to find and search residences for evidence of human remains. 

Some news sources were quick to point out duplications or strange anomalies in the county's list, including an earlier version which listed five missing people as aged 119, according to the New York Times.

The newspaper reported that they were able to locate some people from the list on social media, who confirmed they were, in fact, fine. 

The Associated Press (AP) highlighted the case of one resident, Tamara Conry, who posted on Facebook to reassure people of her safety.

"My husband and I are not missing and never were!" she wrote Thursday night on one of the pages for missing people.

"We have no family looking for us ... I called and left a message to take our names off."

Sheriff Honea has defended the decision to publish the list in its "raw" form.
"I can't let perfection get in the way of progress," the sheriff told the media on Friday.

"It's important for us to get the information out so that we can get started on identifying these unaccounted individuals."

With more than 12,000 buildings destroyed in the Camp Fire and evacuation orders still in place across swathes of California, thousands of residents are now spread out in temporary accommodation or shelters. 

The difficulties in keeping track of who are actually missing, then, are obvious - and communication problems are compounding these further.

As towers and power lines perished in the blaze, so did mobile phone service in places. In some areas, temporary towers had to be installed by providers.

Away from the official list on the county website, missing posters are also being tacked around local bulletin boards and trees at encampments.

Further afield, loved ones and friends are relying on social media groups to share images and information about people who haven't been in touch. 

On the county list, many of the people whose ages are listed are elderly - reflecting the area's popularity as a retirement hotspot. 

Paradise, the town in Butte County that was devastated by the wildfire, has an estimated population of about 27,000.

According to the latest census, about a quarter of those are aged 65 or over.
Eric Reinbold, the chief of police in Paradise, said the list's demographics underscore the difficulties in evacuating older residents in rapid emergency situations.

"Like any community, we had elderly folks and some of them gave up driving or can't drive," Chief Reinbold said.

If they did make it out, older residents may also be less likely to have access to the internet or other mobile communications to contact people they know.

Sheriff Honea said that because of displacements, many of those on this list may not even be aware that people are looking for them.

A spokesman for his office told AP that the list was not a "real-time" reflection of who is missing, but is being widely publicised in the hope it will prompt people to call in to say they are okay.

Authorities are continuing to implore locals to double-check the list as it is updated and let them know, by phone and not voicemail, about people who are confirmed safe, in order to help focus their already stretched resources.

Of Course He Did. He's a Coward.

Trump Refuses to Listen to Audio Tape of Jamal Khashoggi's 'Vicious' Murder 
Turkish defence minister says killers of Khashoggi may have taken his dismembered body out of Turkey in a luggage
A woman holds a picture of Jamal Khashoggi during the funeral prayers in absentia for the journalist. Photograph: Emrah Gurel/AP 
Donald Trump has refused to listen to audio tape of the murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, while saying the killing was “vicious”.

In an interview with Fox News broadcasting on Sunday, the president told presenter Chris Wallace: “I don’t want to hear the tape, no reason for me to hear the tape.”

The news follows the CIA’s conclusion that the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which further jeopardizes the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia and is likely to damage the Saudi leadership and its standing in the world.
In Trump’s pre-recorded interview with Fox, it emerged that he told the TV channel that Khashoggi’s killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month was “very violent, very vicious and terrible”. 

The Turkish authorities had said soon after Khashoggi went missing that there was audio tape of his killing, although the White House was slow to acknowledge this.

After telling Wallace that he wouldn’t listen to the tape, during the Fox interview at the White House, the presenter then asks him: “Why don’t you want to hear it, Sir?”

The president replies: “It’s a suffering tape. It’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it.”

Trump has announced there will be a government report on Tuesday assessing the details and impact of the killing and possible options for the US response.

Republican senator Lindsey Graham said on NBC’s meet the press on Sunday morning: “If [MBS] is going to be the face and the voice of Saudi Arabia going forward, the kingdom will have a hard time on the world stage … when it comes to the crown prince, he’s irrational, he’s unhinged, and I think he’s done a lot of damage to the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. And I have no intention of working with him ever again.”

Trump has been equivocal on both the role of Bin Salman and how strong the US response should be towards Saudi Arabia, a key trading partner and ally in the Middle East.
Meanwhile it also emerged early Sunday that the killers of Khashoggi may have taken his dismembered body out of Turkey in a luggage, the Turkish defence minister, Hulusi Akar, has been quoted as saying by broadcaster CNN Turk.

Khashoggi, a US resident, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, sparking global outrage against the kingdom and its de facto ruler, Bin Salman (often known as MBS).

Riyadh had offered numerous contradictory explanations for his disappearance, before saying Khashoggi was killed after “negotiations” to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.

Speaking at a panel as part of an international conference in Halifax, Canada, Akar said Khashoggi’s killers may have taken the journalist’s body parts out of Turkey in luggage.

On Sunday, CNN Turk cited Akar as saying: “One probability is that they left the country three to four hours after committing the murder. They may have taken out Khashoggi’s dismembered corpse inside luggage without facing problems due to their diplomatic immunity.”

Turkey has said a group of 15 individuals, including a two-man “clean-up team”, was involved and that Khashoggi’s body had been dismembered. Turkish officials have also called for an investigation into whether the body was dissolved in acid.

Saudi public prosecutor Shalaan al-Shalaan said on Thursday that Khashoggi’s body was dismembered, removed from the building and handed to an unidentified “local cooperator“.

More than a month after the murder, Turkey is trying to maintain pressure on the crown prince, releasing a stream of evidence that undermined Riyadh’s early denials.

On Saturday Trump, called a CIA assessment blaming the crown prince for the killing “very premature” and said he would receive a complete report on the case on Tuesday.

Turkey says it has recordings related to the killing that it shared with western allies. One Turkish official told Reuters that officials who heard the recordings, which include Khashoggi’s killing and conversations leading up to the operation, were horrified but their countries had done nothing.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau last week was the first western head of state to acknowledge having heard a recording of Khashoggi’s death.

On Thursday, without naming them, Shalaan said the Saudi prosecutor had requested the death penalty for five individuals “charged with ordering and committing the crime, and for the appropriate sentences for the other indicted individuals”.

He said 11 of 21 suspects had been indicted and would be referred to court, while investigations of the remaining suspects would continue.

However, the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, said he was not satisfied with Shalaan’s statement, pushing Riyadh to disclose the location of Khashoggi’s remains and calling for the suspects to be tried in Turkey.