Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley has set a Friday morning deadline for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to respond to his invitation to speak to the committee about her allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a high school party when she was 15 years old. But Dr. Blasey Ford’s lawyers have said an FBI investigation into her claims should be conducted before the committee holds a hearing. On Wednesday, President Trump openly doubted Dr. Blasey Ford’s claim.
President Donald Trump: “Look, if she shows up and makes a credible showing, that will be very interesting, and we’ll have to make a decision. But I can only say this: He is such an outstanding man. Very hard for me to imagine that anything happened.”
This comes as Vanity Fair is reporting Trump’s daughter Ivanka has told her father to “cut bait” and drop Kavanaugh over the attempted rape allegations. Meanwhile, one of Blasey Ford’s high school classmates revealed on Facebook that she remembers hearing about the alleged assault at the time. Cristina Miranda King wrote, “This incident did happen.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in says he plans to speak with President Trump soon about the desire of both South and North Korea to officially declare an end to the Korean War this year. The news comes as Moon wraps up a historic three-day summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in North Korea. Earlier today Moon spoke about his vision for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
President Moon Jae-in: “From [Mount] Paektu to [Mount] Halla, we promised to make our beautiful rivers and mountains a land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threats, and to pass it on to the future generations.”
Animal rights activists have released shocking video footage from factory farms in North Carolina that were flooded during Hurricane Florence. Activists say they found barns with thousands of drowned chickens and dumpsters filled with dead piglets.
Elizabeth Jones: “As you can see, there are thousands of baby piglets in these dumpsters outside of these pig facilities, dumped like garbage into giant metal dumpsters.”
Communities across Puerto Rico are holding memorials across the island today to mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria, the devastating storm that killed thousands and caused the longest blackout in U.S. history. Puerto Rico’s governor recently updated the death toll from the storm to 2,975 people, after multiple news outlets and universities demonstrated that thousands of people died during the days and weeks after Maria. A Harvard study estimates the death toll might be as high as 4,645. But last week President Trump claimed the death numbers were inflated by Democrats to make him look bad. He said the government’s response to the storm was an “incredible unsung success.” In Puerto Rico, local residents criticized Trump’s comments. Sharon Nunez Cortez is a resident of Barceloneta.
Sharon Nunez Cortez: “Well, how can [Trump] give an opinion if he hasn’t come to see the misfortune that is our reality? Because he came and was interviewed in an area where there wasn’t a disaster. They should have taken him to where there was a disaster, where helicopters had to rescue people who couldn’t leave their homes because there was nowhere to go. There were floods that even swept away bridges. But he is giving his opinion from the comfort of his chair without knowing what really happened.”
In news from Washington, President Trump is continuing to openly attack Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In an interview with The Hill, Trump said, “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad.” During the interview, Trump criticized Sessions for his recusal from the Russian probe, his performance during his confirmation hearing and his handling of his duties as attorney general.
In news from Capitol Hill, the Senate has voted 93 to 7 to approve a $674 billion military spending bill. Every Democratic senator supported the bill. Six Republicans and independent Senator Bernie Sanders opposed it.
The FBI and Department of Justice are reportedly planning to defy President Trump and redact documents that Trump ordered to be fully declassified earlier this week. On Monday, Trump gave the unusual directive to release unredacted materials related to the Russia probe, including the FISA surveillance warrant application for Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and text messages of former FBI and Department of Justice officials. The proposed redactions are expected to be submitted to the director of national intelligence before being handed over to the White House.
In news from the Middle East, the Israeli military shot and killed a 15-year-old boy in southern Gaza today during a protest near the fence with Israel. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been protesting since March 30 under the banner of the Great March of Return. According to health officials in Gaza, Israeli forces have killed at least 173 Palestinians and wounded over 18,000 people since the beginning of the protests.
Meanwhile in Gaza City, employees of UNRWA—the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine—protested on Wednesday against job cuts. UNRWA is reducing jobs following the Trump administration’s decision to cut all funding to the agency. This is Amal al-Batsh, deputy chairman of the Union of Palestinian Employees at UNRWA in Gaza.
Amal al-Batsh: “Gaza needs a lot [of help] because of the siege and the sanctions. They have no solutions for Gaza. They are blackmailing us politically. They want Gaza to give up politically, or there will be no solutions. Because of this, UNRWA as an organization is being punished. And we, as Palestinians and refugees, are being punished in Gaza so that we will give up.”
In Germany, a journalist has died while covering the eviction of protesters from the Hambach Forest. For the past six years activists have occupied the forest in an attempt to stop the planned expansion of a nearby open-pit coal mine. But over the past two weeks German police have been clearing the protest encampment—evicting activists from their treehouses. The journalist died after falling from a bridge connecting two treehouses. On Sunday, nine environmental activists were injured as police tried to remove them from the treehouses.
The editor of The New York Review of Books, Ian Buruma, is out after outrage over the publication of an essay by disgraced Canadian media personality Jian Ghomeshi, who has been accused of sexual assault and harassment by 20 women. It is unclear if Buruma was fired or resigned. The essay in question is part of an upcoming issue that features several men who were accused of sexual assault or other forms of sexual misconduct under the headline “The Fall of Men.” In a recent interview defending his decision, Buruma said, “I made a themed issue about #MeToo perpetrators who were not convicted by the judiciary but by social media. … And now I am on the pillory myself.” Responding to the news, writer Roxane Gay tweeted, “What would possess an esteemed publication like NYRB to publish that Jian Ghomeshi piece? … I wonder which publication will give a victim of sexual harassment or violence 7,000 words to discuss her or his experience.”
In other #MeToo news, the Dallas Mavericks and the basketball team’s billionaire owner Mark Cuban were sanctioned by the NBA after an independent investigation substantiated a number of allegations against men within the organization. The findings include improper conduct in the workplace and domestic violence. Former team president and chief executive Terdema Ussery was determined to have sexually harassed and touched multiple female employees. Mark Cuban publicly apologized and said he will pay $10 million to women’s organizations as part of an agreement with the NBA.
The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights group has announced plans to bail out more than 500 women and teenagers from Rikers Island in New York in an attempt to show how the current bail system criminalizes poverty. The group’s president, Kerry Kennedy, said, “There are no wealthy people on Rikers Island, because if you are wealthy, you go free because you make bail.”
In news from Chicago, disgraced Chicago police commander Jon Burge has died at the age of 70. Between 1972 and 1991, more than 200 people, most of them African-American, were tortured under his reign. Officers under his command routinely used electric shock, suffocation with plastic bags and typewriter covers, among other methods, to extract confessions from men who were later shown to be innocent. In 2015, the Chicago City Council approved a $5.5 million reparations fund for victims of police torture. One victim of the torture was an African-American man named Darrell Cannon who spent more than 20 years in prison and confessed to a murder he didn’t commit after being tortured by officers under Burge’s command. Darrell Cannon appeared on Democracy Now! in 2015.
Darrell Cannon: “On November the 2nd, 1983, about 15 all-white detectives invaded my apartment, terrorized me, my common-law wife and my cat. And during that day, through—I was tortured in despicable ways, from them using an electric cattle prod to shock me on my genitals and in my mouth. They tried to hang me by my handcuffs, which was cuffed behind my back. And they tried to play a game of Russian roulette on me with a shotgun, and they ended up chipping my two front teeth and splitting my upper lip.”
And CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin disrupted an event at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank where the U.S. special envoy to Iran Brian Hook spoke on Wednesday. Benjamin took to the stage shortly after Hook ended his speech.
Brian Hook: “It is time for all nations to join us in holding Iran to a new level of accountability for its destructive behavior, especially its lawless pursuit of ballistic missiles. Thank you.”
Medea Benjamin: “That is the most ridiculous thing I have seen. The world community wants to keep the Iran nuclear deal. Our allies—the Germans, the French, the British—they want to keep in this deal. The world community wants to keep the deal. Let’s talk about normal countries. Let’s talk about Saudi Arabia. Is that who our allies are? They are the biggest threat to the world community. And let’s talk—you’re hurting me. You’re actually hurting me. I want to ask: Do you think these sanctions are hurting the regime, or are they hurting the Iranian people? They’re hurting the Iranian people. You are making a case for war with Iran. How did the war with Iraq turn out? You’re doing exactly the same thing we did in the case of Iraq. We don’t want another war in the Middle East. Let’s see, how did Iraq turn out? How did Libya turn out? We have the people of Syria suffering. And how dare you bring up the issue of Yemen? It’s the Saudi bombing that is killing most people in Yemen. So let’s get real. No more war! Peace with Iran!”