The FBI is continuing its reopened investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The focus of the probe is on allegations made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her in 1982. But the FBI has also reached out to Deborah Ramirez, a former classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale who says he thrust his genitals into her face during a party. The FBI probe was launched after Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona announced he would not support Kavanaugh’s confirmation without a new investigation into the allegations.
Sen. Jeff Flake: “I have been speaking with a number of people on the other side. We’ve had conversations ongoing for a while with regard to making sure that we do due diligence here. And I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to, but not more than, one week in order to let the FBI continue—to do an investigation, limited in time and scope, to the current allegations that are there, and limit in time to no more than one week. And I will vote to advance the bill to the floor with that understanding.”
Senator Flake’s remarks shocked his Republican colleagues, who were hoping to quickly push ahead with a full confirmation vote for Kavanaugh. Flake’s move to stall the vote came just hours after he was confronted in a Senate elevator by two survivors of sexual assault.
Maria Gallagher: “That’s what you’re telling all of these women. That’s what you’re telling me right now. Look at me when I’m talking to you. You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter, that what happened to me doesn’t matter and that you’re going to let people who do these things into power. That’s what you’re telling me when you vote for him. Don’t look away from me. Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me, that you’ll let people like that go into the highest court of the land and tell everyone what they can do to their bodies.”
The White House is now facing criticism for placing limits on the FBI probe. According to NBC News, the FBI witness list does not include Julie Swetnick, who says she observed Kavanaugh at high school parties in the 1980s joining efforts to inebriate girls so they could be gang-raped. The New Yorker magazine reports the FBI has failed to follow up with several individuals who want to speak to the FBI.
A friend of Kavanaugh’s from Yale has accused him of lying about his drinking habits in college. Charles Ludington said, “When Brett got drunk, he was often belligerent and aggressive. On one of the last occasions I purposely socialized with Brett, I witnessed him respond to a semi-hostile remark, not by defusing the situation, but by throwing his beer in the man’s face and starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail.” Several other of Kavanaugh’s classmates have made similar remarks about Kavanaugh’s drinking. Last week another one of Kavanaugh’s classmates at Yale, Louisa Garry, withdrew her support for Kavanaugh. She had been featured in an ad by the Judicial Crisis Network.
In Indonesia, the confirmed death toll from Friday’s earthquake and tsunami has reached 844 and is expected to rise into the thousands as rescuers are just beginning to reach some of the more affected areas on the island of Sulawesi. The 7.5 magnitude quake toppled hotels, mosques and shopping malls in the city of Palu. Landslides buried entire nearby villages.
The United States and Canada have reached a tentative deal to save NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. The new trilateral deal will be known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. In a victory for American dairy farmers, Canada has agreed to open part of its dairy market to U.S. imports. The new deal does not resolve a dispute over U.S. tariffs on Canada’s steel and aluminum exports. The proposed deal must now be ratified by lawmakers in the three countries. Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch criticized the new deal, saying, “Unless there are strong labor and environmental standards that are subject to swift and certain enforcement, U.S. firms will continue to outsource jobs to pay Mexican workers poverty wages, dump toxins and bring their products back here for sale.”
In Brazil, tens of thousands of people took part in women-led rallies in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and other cities on Saturday to protest against the far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro ahead of the October 7 Brazilian election. Bolsonaro is currently leading many polls even though he was forced to stop campaigning after being stabbed last month. Bolsonaro is a former Army officer who has openly praised Brazil’s military dictatorship, which lasted from 1964 to 1985. He has said he used his government housing allowance to pay sex workers, called women weak, threatened gay people with violence and called a political opponent “too ugly to rape.” The theme of Saturday’s protest was “Not Him.”
Protester: “I’m here because Bolsonaro is dangerous. He represents hatred for our country, because he represents the loss of the few rights that the people he targets, such as the black people, the indigenous people and the LGBT community and women, have conquered so far. He represents a threat to democracy in our country, a democracy that we are still building.”
In news from Gaza, Israeli soldiers fatally shot seven Palestinian protesters on Friday and injured more than 500 others taking part in a protest. The dead included two Palestinian boys aged 12 and 14. Israeli soldiers have killed at least 190 Palestinians in Gaza since the Great March of Return protests began in March.
Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza have launched a general strike today to protest against Israel’s new Jewish nation-state law that declares only Jews the right of self-determination in Israel.
During a rally in West Virginia on Saturday, President Trump heaped praise on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, saying the two of them have fallen in love.
President Donald Trump: “When I did it, and I was really being tough—and so was he. And we would go back and forth. And then we fell in love, OK? No, really. He wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters. We fell in love. But you know what? Now they’ll make—they’ll say, 'Donald Trump said they fell in love. How horrible! How horrible is that! So unpresidential!'”
In news from Burma, the families of two imprisoned Reuters reporters have asked for a pardon. The reporters were detained in December while they were investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and local Buddhists in Burma’s Rakhine state. On Friday, supporters of the Reuters reporters held an event at the United Nations. Speakers included their attorney, Amal Clooney.
Amal Clooney: “This case is about much more than just two innocent men. I mean, if you care about press freedom, you care about this case, because it sets a precedent. So, if these people are locked up, then other people are too scared to do the kind of reporting that they do. … In too many countries around the world we’re seeing autocratic regimes lock up anyone who criticizes them, and use a whole host of laws to basically criminalize speech and quash dissent. And you have to fight it every single time that happens.”
In environmental news, the Trump administration has taken a number of steps in recent days to roll back environmental regulations and oversight. The New York Times is reporting acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler has completed a proposal to weaken dramatically a major environmental regulation covering mercury, a toxic chemical emitted from coal-burning power plants. Meanwhile, the Interior Department has proposed loosening major offshore drilling regulations that were put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. This all comes as the EPA has announced plans to dissolve its Office of the Science Advisor, which was created to give the head of the EPA sound advice about scientific research.
In immigration news, The New York Times is reporting the Trump administration has begun transferring detained migrant children from shelters across the country to a barren tent city in West Texas. The Times reports hundreds of children are being sent each week from shelters to the tent city, which currently houses 1,600 children. The U.S. government is now detaining a record 13,000 migrant children.
A federal judge has ruled congressional Democrats can move forward with an anti-corruption lawsuit against President Trump. The suit accuses Trump of violating the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by receiving payments from foreign governments through the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and other establishments around the world.
The Justice Department sued the state of California on Sunday night shortly after California Governor Jerry Brown signed a net neutrality bill to restore internet rules that were rolled back by the Federal Communications Commission last year. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra defended the state law, saying California “will not allow a handful of power brokers to dictate sources for information or the speed at which websites load.”
In other news from California, Governor Brown has signed legislation requiring that all publicly traded companies based in California must have at least one woman on their board of directors by the end of 2019.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has announced she is openly considering running for president in 2020. She spoke on Saturday in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “It’s time for women to go to Washington and fix our broken government, and that includes a woman at the top. So here’s what I promise: After November 6th, I will take a hard look at running for president.”
Protests were held in Dallas and New York on Friday to honor slain Texas man Botham Jean on the eve of what would have been his 27th birthday. Jean was shot dead in his own apartment last month by a Dallas police officer who is now facing manslaughter charges. Protesters decried the killing of Botham Jean.
Protester: “Another black man murdered by an off-duty cop. Botham was murdered in his own home after officer Amber Guyger broke into his home, thinking it was her own apartment, and shot him to death. We are here tonight to say this must end.”