News & Analysis of Economic, Racial, Gender Justice and More

The New York Times reported on Monday that the White House has now expanded the scope of the FBI probe into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The FBI investigation was initially defined as being very narrow in scope and with a strict 1-week time limit. While the time limit has not changed, the scope is now apparently broadened. This is how the Times described it, “The broadening inquiry produced an unusual spectacle as friends and classmates from Judge Kavanaugh’s past provided dueling portraits of the nominee in his younger days — either a good-natured student incapable of the alleged behavior or a stumbling drunk who could easily have blacked out and forgotten inappropriate behavior at alcohol-soaked parties.” On Tuesday reports emerged that the FBI has already interviewed Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge who is implicated in some of the allegations.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday that the full Senate vote on Kavanaugh would proceed at the end of the week. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell on Monday said there will be a vote on Kavanaugh this week. McConnell is focusing his efforts on the three Republican Senators most likely to vote against Kavanaugh: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer relayed the Democrats’ strategy in the wake of Thursday’s harrowing Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer asserted that Kavanaugh lacked the temperament and character for a Supreme Court justice. Schumer is worried about three so-called “Red-State” Democrats voting for Kavanaugh: Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. All three are hoping Kavanaugh simply drops out.

Meanwhile a new poll has found Kavanaugh’s support among the American public sinking even further, especially among women. The CBS poll found that only 29% of American women think that Kavanaugh should be confirmed.

And NBC interviewed Julie Swetnick, a third woman who has made allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. Julie Swetnick says she was gang raped after being drugged at a party that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were at. After today’s news headlines, we’ll dig deep into what law enforcement agents could explore in the FBI probe, including the lies that Kavanaugh appears to have told last Thursday. My guest will be Marjorie Cohn, Professor Emerita of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

In other news, on Monday evening President Trump gathered his cabinet for a press conference outside the White House to laud the new trade agreement that will be replacing the decades-old North America Free Trade Agreement. The new deal is to be called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement or U.S.M.C.A. Trump said, “It’s not Nafta redone, it’s a brand-new deal.”

Also at the press conference, Trump mocked a female journalist and then answered her question on the trade deal. Trump spoke with Cecilia Vega of ABC News at a press conference on Monday in a manner that shocked people. He later also had sharp words for CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins. According to the Guardian newspaper, “Somewhere in a Republican nerve center, strategists were probably striking out several more seats that hinge on the support of suburban women.”

Amazon made a surprise announcement on Tuesday morning that it was raising its employee minimum wage to $15 an hour. As per CNN, “The change takes effect November 1 and applies to full-time, part-time and temporary workers. Amazon says the $15 minimum wage will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees, plus 100,000 seasonal workers. Amazon CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos, who is the world’s richest man and who has been the target of fierce criticism for underpaying his employees, said, “We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead. We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

A number of activists disrupted a public hearing at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday. The EPA was holding a hearing on a plan to weaken fuel efficiency standards for vehicles by letting states write their own emission rules. It was to be the only such public hearing on the rule change. The political display was organized by the group People’s Action with activists wearing T-shirts that read “Stop Killing Us.” They chanted until the 3 EPA representatives at the meeting left.  In a statement the organization said, “We refuse to sit passively while the Trump administration is making decisions that will kill poor people and people of color.”

In immigration news federal lawmakers from both major parties are crafting a new bill banning the arrest of any undocumented immigrants that come forward to sponsor an undocumented child. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency was under fire for arresting dozens of parents and relatives who showed up to sponsor children in detention.

And, there have been ICE raids happening in cities across the country in recent days from Madison, Wisconsin to San Diego and Los Angeles in California, and in cities in North Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Ohio. One ICE official in San Diego claimed that the hundreds of people who have been rounded up and arrested are, “coincidental,” and not part of a coordinated effort.

In international news, the deadly toll of Indonesia’s earthquake and tsunami is growing, days after thousands of buildings collapsed from an 18-20-foot wave with a total of 1,234 deaths. The number is expected to rise even further. Anger has built up along the coastal village of Donggala where the tsunami hit hard, and where people are still waiting for the central government to respond with aid and rescue efforts. President Joko Widodo has asked the international community to help and ten nations have already offered to do so but global aid may be more long-term than the short-term help that is desperately needed. Thousands of people are still believed to be trapped under rubble five days after the disaster struck. Fourteen years ago a deadly Tsunami in the Pacific hit numerous nations and caused the deaths of more than 200,000 people.

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