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A Saudi woman drives in Riyadh for the first time. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

Alleged torture of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia — which the Saudi government denies — is being investigated by the Saudi Human Rights Commission, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: The activists, who campaigned for women to gain the right to drive, were arrested earlier this year while Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman touted himself as a reformist of the kingdom's strict cultural laws. MBS has recently come under more scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers for his policies and behavior.

Details: Per the Journal, the commission has heard accusations of waterboarding, sexual harassment, electrocution, and more. A top aide of MBS, Saud al-Qahtani, "allegedly oversaw some aspects ... and threatened at least one woman with rape and death."

  • The WSJ reports that at least eight of the 18 activists in custody have been physically abused.
  • The Commission reports to Saudi King Salman.
  • Last week, the U.S. Senate issued a sharp rebuke of the Saudi kingdom and broke from the Trump administration in its support of the Saudis.

The bottom line: It's doubtful any real charges will come from this.

  • One Saudi official told the Journal: "I don't see how they will hold anyone accountable if they already publicly denied that the torture ever happened."

Go deeper

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro.

4 hours ago - Health

5 times as many police officers have died from COVID as from guns since pandemic began

Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for police officers even though members of law enforcement were among the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine, CNN reports, citing data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Why it matters: Nearly 476 police officers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, compared to the 93 deaths as a result of gunfire in the same time period, according to ODMP and CNN.

Virginia energy giant quietly boosts McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, a group with ties to prominent Democrats that's been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the right.