Headlines: September 21, 2018
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The Kavanaugh scandal continues to rock Capitol Hill with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who has accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault acceding that she might testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee after all. Her lawyers held a 30-minute private phone call with members of the committee on Thursday. In a separate email the lawyers told Senators that Ford, “wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.” Ford’s lawyers have said that she would prefer to speak in front of the committee next Thursday and not in the same room as Judge Kavanaugh. According to CBS, which obtained a copy of the email, Ford has also asked that only the Senators question her, and not outside counsel, that adequate security be provided, and that a witness Mark Judge be subpoenaed.
President Donald Trump, who had uncharacteristically refrained from attacking Kavanaugh’s accuser by name on Friday morning tweeted, “if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!” He then posted a second tweet saying, “The radical left lawyers want the FBI to get involved NOW. Why didn’t someone call the FBI 36 years ago?”
Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York spoke at a press conference about the GOP’s initial position that Blasey Ford would only be allowed to testify next Monday. Also speaking at the press conference was Sarah Burgess, an alumnus of Holton-Arms school, which Ford attended. Burgess presented a letter signed by other her and other alumna in support of Ford.
GOP Congressman Ralph Norman of South Carolina is under fire for joking about the sexual assault allegations. Norman, during his opening remarks at a debate with his Democratic rival Archie Parnell said, “Did y’all hear this latest late-breaking news from the Kavanaugh hearings? Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out that she was groped by Abraham Lincoln.” Parnell retorted, “My opponent apparently thinks sexual assault is a joke. It is not.”
California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office is reportedly receiving death and rape threats against staff in relation to the Kavanaugh story, according to McClatchy. Feinstein sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Meanwhile The Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday that Yale Law Professor and famed author Amy Chua had told a group of law students last year in private that, it was “not an accident” that Kavanaugh’s female law clerks all “looked like models,” and that she would, “provide advice to students about their physical appearance if they wanted to work for him.” Chua, who wrote the book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother has strongly supported Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
In the latest on Hurricane Florence, there are reports that a dam run by Duke Energy in North Carolina has been breached and that coal ash may be seeping into the Cape Fear River. The dam holds an 1,100 acre reservoir at Sutton Lake. Meanwhile, neighboring South Carolina is now the target of downstream flooding and other related environmental disasters. The total death toll in North and South Carolina, and Virginia from Florence is now up to 41. Gov. Henry McMaster warned residents that, “The rainfall and flooding in North Carolina is sending unheard of amounts of water into South Carolina along the Lynches, Great Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers. The damage in the northeastern part of our state will be catastrophic, surpassing anything recorded in modern history.” He has estimated that his state faces about $1.2 billion in damage.
In Puerto Rico, residents are marking a year since the deadly Hurricane Maria hit killing an estimated nearly 2,975 people. According to Associated Press, “Clapping and raising their hands to the sky, hundreds of people clad in white gathered at an 18th-century fort in the Puerto Rican capital,” of San Juan. Puerto Rico has an estimated $100 billion of damage and much of the rebuilding has yet to happen. Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo visited Puerto Rico on Thursday and told press, “I think it’s inexplicable. There’s no justifiable reason I can see for this gross level of negligence.” President Trump has questioned Puerto Rico’s official death toll estimate and claimed it has been a conspiracy concocted by the Democratic Party to make him look bad.
A mass shooting took place in Harford County, Maryland on Thursday when a woman opened fire at a Rite Aid distribution center in Aberdeen killing three people and wounding three others before pulling the trigger on herself. She died later at a nearby hospital. Authorities have identified the shooter as 26-year old Snochia Moseley. Moseley was apparently a temporary worker at the center. She had purchased the pistol that she used in the shooting legally. According to the Washington Post, “The Aberdeen attack was the second workplace shooting in the country in a 24-hour span. On Wednesday morning, a 43-year-old man opened fire on fellow employees of a software company in a suburb of Madison, Wis., seriously wounding three people before killing himself.”
In other news President Trump has decided to walk back his plans to declassify documents from the Russia investigation. The Washington Post reported on Friday that, “Justice Department officials and others had persuaded him not to do so for the time being.” Just four days ago he had announced he would make public the documents that Republican lawmakers like Devin Nunez had been asking him to. As usual he made the important announcement on Twitter saying, “I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various UNREDACTED documents. They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe. Also, key Allies’ called to ask not to release.”
In immigration news, CNN is reporting that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency arrested undocumented people who identified themselves to authorities in order to take custody of undocumented children in government detention. The outlet explained, “The news will serve as confirmation of the worst fears of immigrants and their advocates: that a recent move by President Donald Trump’s administration to more fully vet people who come forward to care for undocumented immigrant children who are alone in the US has been a way for the administration to track down and arrest more undocumented immigrants.” ICE arrested 41 people who came forward to sponsor immigrant children – people who are likely to have been parents or relatives of the children. The arrests were made from early July through early September.
Bergen County, New Jersey Sheriff Michael Saudino is under fire for making racist remarks that were secretly recorded and handed to the New York based radio station WNYC. His remarks referenced New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s inaugural address during which Murphy had spoken about marijuana legalization among other things. Sheriff Saudino is heard saying, “He talked about the whole thing, the marijuana, sanctuary state … better criminal justice reform…Christ almighty, in other words let the blacks come in, do whatever the f*** they want, smoke their marijuana, do this do that, and don’t worry about it. You know, we’ll tie the hands of cops.” He later also remarked about New Jersey Attorney General and Sikh American Gurbir Grewal saying Murphy had hired Grewal because of, “the turban.” Gov. Murphy has called on Saudino to resign.
And finally, about 700 women of color gathered in San Francisco on Thursday for a historic mobilization of women who are elected officials, running for office, or supporting women in politics. The gathering, called “She The People,” was organized by Democracy in Color and drew Representatives like Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Barbara Lee of California, as well as soon-to-be Congresswomen Deb Haaland and Rashida Tlaib, and prominent activists such as Dolores Huerta, Linda Sarsour, Nina Turner, Alicia Garza and others.