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'He Took a Page Out of the Donald Trump Playbook': MSNBC Legal Analyst Explains the Huge Mistake Kavanaugh Made in His Testimony

September 27, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Kavanaugh came to the Senate filled with fury.


Judge Brett Kavanaugh surprised many observers Thursday in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee about claims that he committed sexual assault by displaying wild swings of emotion, from full-on rage to weeping with grief. At different points during his testimony and his question periods, he shouted, engaged with hostility toward Democrats, and denounced the proceedings in fiery language.

Maya Wiley, an MSNBC legal analyst, noted that Kavanaugh's decision to display so much open anger was a startling choice — and one that would be considered a huge mistake in a criminal trial.

But she noted that this surprising reaction may not be much of a shock considering who nominated Kavanaugh for a Supreme Court seat.

“Watching it as an attorney, I was cringing,” Wiley said. “Because if you have a client who is accused of a violent crime — and fundamentally, sexual assault is a crime of violence — the last thing you want is your client to go on a witness stand and show anger and belligerence and aggression. You want the Judge Kavanaugh that actually showed up at the previous hearings who was much more measured, much more judicial. And I think what that indicated is: Who was his audience?”

She continued: “It feels like he took a page out of the Donald Trump playbook in terms of responding to allegations of sexual assault, rather than a page out of a book of empathy and a book of balance.”

“That's something you want from a judge. And it's certainly something you want from a justice of the Supreme Court who is going to have decisions about how women — or to what extent they're able to make decision governing their own lives and bodies,” she concluded.

Watch the clip below:

<Img align="left" border="0" …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Democratic Senator Crushes Kavanaugh for Dismissing Importance of Mark Judge's Testimony

September 27, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

Brett Kavanaugh tried to claim the committee didn't need to hear anything more from his high school friend. Sen. Richard Blumenthal took him to task.


In Thursday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the sexual assault allegations by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, both the judge and Senate Republicans seemed wholly unconcerned with the fact that the committee was not calling any other witnesses in particular, Kavanaugh's high school friend Mark Judge, who Ford alleges was present at the time of the assault, and who has been hiding out in a beach house in Delaware since the allegations arose.

The rationale for not subpoenaing Judge? He had already stated, in written testimony from his lawyer to the committee, that he does not remember any such event taking place.

But as Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) pointed out, that leaves a whole lot to be desired.

“You've made reference, Judge, to a sworn statement, I believe, by Mark Judge to the committee,” said Blumenthal, who happens to be a former federal prosecutor. “Is that correct?”

“I've made reference to what Mark Judge's lawyer has sent to the committee,” Kavanaugh agreed.

“It's not a sworn statement, is it?” said Blumenthal.

“Under penalty of felony?”

“Well, it's a statement signed by his lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder,” said Blumenthal. “It is six cursory and conclusory sentences. Are you saying that that is a substitute for an investigation by the FBI, or some interview by the FBI under oath?”

“Under penalty of felony, he said that this kind of event did not happen and that I never did or would have done something like that.”

Blumenthal did not back down. “As a federal judge, you always want the best evidence, don't you?”

“Senator, he has said, and all the witnesses present — look at Miss Keyser's statement,” protested Kavanaugh.

Put aside, for a moment, the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Kavanaugh Forced to Back Down After Aggressively Questioning Senator About Her Drinking to Deflect from His Own Past

September 27, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

It was a stunning interaction.


From the start of his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was enraged and emotionally volatile. He shouted much of his opening statements and attacked Democrats and “the left” with fiery language. Later, he shed tears and sniffled when he spoke of his family.

His clear distress and anxiousness persisted throughout the hearing, leading to testy exchanges with the Democratic senators. And when Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) asked about his drinking habits — relevant to claims he has made and the allegations of sexual assault against him — he shot back and asked about her drinking.

“So you're saying there's never been a case when you didn't remember what happened before, or part of what happened the night before?” asked Klobuchar.

“You're asking about blackouts. I don't know, have you?” he responded.

“So that's not happened? Is that your answer?” she pressed.

“Yeah, and I'm curious if you have,” he shot back.

“I don't have a drinking problem,” Klobuchar said.

“Nor do I,” said Kavanaugh.

When the nominee came from a short recess from the testimony, however, he clearly regretted the hostility with which he treated the senator. It seems it appeared, that he had realized he crossed a line in behaving so aggressively — and realized that he needed to back down and apologize.

“She asked me a question at the end that I responded by asking her a question, and sorry I did that,” he said. “This is a tough process and I’m sorry about that.”

Watch a clip of the apology below:

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Watergate: Where Are They Now?

September 27, 2018 in History

By Alice Popovici

Find out what happened to some of the key players in the historical scandal that brought down a U.S. president.

On June 17, 1972, five burglars were , he talks about conquering his fears by subjecting himself to gruesome experiments in which he eats rat meat and burns his own flesh. He retired from the airwaves in 2012, saying he wanted to spend more time with his grandchildren.

Read More: How Watergate Changed America’s Intelligence Laws

Charles ‘Chuck’ Colson

HIS ROLE: As special advisor to the president, Colson was the mastermind behind many of the “dirty tricks” and political maneuvers—including spying on political opponents—that brought down the Nixon administration. As Colson told E. Howard Hunt in a recorded telephone conversation, he would write in his memoirs that “Watergate was brilliantly conceived as an escapade that would divert the Democrats’ attention from the real issues, and therefore permit us to win a landslide that we probably wouldn’t have won otherwise.”

THE UPSHOT: Colson pled guilty to obstructing justice in a Watergate-related case involving Daniel Ellsberg, in which he ran a smear campaign seeking to discredit the government contractor who leaked the Pentagon Papers.

POST-SCANDAL: After spending seven months in prison, Colson emerged with a new outlook on life: He wrote Born Again, a book about his embracing Christianity, and founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, an organization that brings religious messaging to inmates and their families. Years later, he said of his transformation, “I shudder to think of what I’d been if I had not gone to prison… Lying on the rotten floor of a cell, you know it’s not prosperity or pleasure that’s important, but the maturing of the soul.” Colson died in 2012.

Donald Segretti

HIS ROLE: A former military prosecutor, Segretti was an operative for the Committee to Re-elect the President, known as the architect behind Nixon’s campaign of political sabotage against Democratic opponents. In one such smear campaign, he created an anonymous letter falsely claiming that former senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson had fathered an illegitimate child with a teenager.

THE UPSHOT: After the Watergate investigation revealed the full extent of his activity, he pled guilty to charges of distributing illegal campaign literature, spending four months in prison.

POST-SCANDAL: After the scandal, Segretti moved back to California, his home state, and kept a low profile, practicing civil and business law from his Newport …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Democratic Senator Uses Kavanaugh's Own Words to Show Why We Need an FBI Investigation into the Accusations Against the Nominee

September 27, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Democrats insist that Mark Judge — and others — should be asked to testify.


Since the first allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse emerged against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Democrats have called for the FBI to investigate the matter. This call has only grown louder since more allegations have emerged, but the Republicans, and Kavanaugh himself, have pushed back against those requests.

While he had the chance to question Kavanaugh, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) used his time to reveal why a thorough investigation — calling many more witnesses — would be necessary. He pointed to the fact that Mark Judge, a longtime friend of Kavanaugh and the other person Christine Blasey Ford says was in the room while Kavanaugh assaulted her, has not been called to testify.

Leahy also pointed out that, in a book Judge wrote about his drinking problem, he referred to another friend as a heavy drinker by the name “Bart O'Kavanaugh.” Leahy asked Kavanaugh if that referred to him.

“I'm trying to get a straight answer from you under oath,” Leahy said. “Are you Bart O'Kavanaugh?”

“You'd have to ask him!” Kavanaugh said dismissively, referring to Judge.

“Well, I agree with you there,” Sen. Leahy says. “And that's why I wished that the chairman had him here under oath.”

Watch the clip below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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Brett Kavanaugh Interrupts and Shouts at Sen. Dianne Feinstein as She Asks Why He Hasn't Called for an FBI Investigation

September 27, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

His body language and actions showed clear disdain for the California Democrat.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein has been Republicans' number one enemy in the debate surrounding the allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh throughout his Supreme Court nomination. In his testimony Thursday, he showed that he shares the disdain many in his party have for the California Democrat.

When she questioned him about why he hasn't asked for an FBI investigation into the allegations against him, as Ford has, Kavanaugh seemed disgusted with the senator, furrowing his brow and while leaning back in his chair.

He didn't answer the question directly, saying he would do whatever the committee wanted to do and that he wanted to testify immediately after Ford's allegations became public.

“It's an outrage that I was not immediately allowed to defend my name and say I didn't do this!” he shouted.

He repeatedly interrupted Feinstein to complain about the process, and yelled at the committee while his voice cracked with emotions in his answers.

Watch the clip below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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Brexit Is an Opportunity for a Genuinely Liberal US‑UK Free Trade Deal

September 27, 2018 in Economics

By Daniel J. Ikenson

Daniel J. Ikenson

With six months and counting before the UK-EU divorce becomes
official, Britons understandably are frustrated by the absence of
post-Brexit clarity. Genuine concern, lingering misgivings about
the referendum, and a series of government missteps have invited
justified criticism, but also heaps of hyperbole and fear-mongering
from politicians and opinion leaders across the ideological
spectrum.

Obscured by grandstanding is the fact that a Brexit agreement
that preserves structural integration where it is mutually
beneficial and restores Westminster’s autonomy to negotiate
free trade deals is both desirable and attainable.

Extricating the UK from the single market and customs union will
restore national sovereignty, improve fiscal accountability, and
ensure flexibility to decide laws and regulations properly suited
to British concerns. But, of course, ceding the privileges of EU
membership won’t be costless.

British policymakers must ensure that costs of withdrawal are
minimised or, at least, outweighed by the benefits. That is why a
comprehensive free trade agreement with the United States should be
among the government’s top priorities. And that is why any
Brexit agreement that attenuates Britain’s capacity to
negotiate trade deals would leave the UK worse off.

The timing for launching negotiations with the US could hardly
be better. Over the next few months, the Trump administration is
likely to conclude renegotiations of trade deals with Korea,
Canada, and Mexico. It is likely to shift focus to new, bilateral
free trade agreements in the new year. The US ambassador to Britain
recently noted that President Trump has a “robust
appetite” for a bilateral trade deal, which puts the launch
of negotiations in late March 2019 very much within the realm of
possibilities.

The US and UK are natural candidates for a state-of-the-art,
comprehensive trade agreement. British and US companies account for
nearly $1.3 trillion of direct investment and employ 2.6 million
workers in each other’s economies.

Both countries are deeply rooted in the institutions of free
market capitalism and the rule of law. Negotiators could agree on
principle to a deal that would create greater prosperity through
novel, transparent rules that eliminate costly barriers to trade
across all sectors, stimulate innovation, encourage competition,
and attract the interests of reform-minded governments around the
world.

Indeed, a proposal offering the text of such an agreement
already exists — the Initiative for Free Trade in London and
the Cato Institute in Washington have released a paper outlining
the ideal US-UK free trade agreement.

The paper, which is the fruit of collaboration among policy
experts representing 11 think tanks in both countries, calls for
elimination of all barriers to trade in goods, services, government
procurement, and investment. It opens financial services in both
countries to the full array of competition. It permits free
movement …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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World War II Bombings Were So Powerful They Sent Shockwaves to Space

September 27, 2018 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Many Allied bombings released the equivalent energy of 300 lightning strikes and temporarily weakened the ionosphere, say researchers.


A Royal Air Force bomber making an attack on a German synthetic oil plant in 1944 during World War II.

Many Allied bombings released the equivalent energy of 300 lightning strikes and temporarily weakened the ionosphere, say researchers.

During World War II, Allied bombing raids left their devastating mark on Germany, killing more than 400,000 civilians and laying waste to entire cities, from Berlin to Hamburg to Dresden.

The bombings were so intense that, according to new research, they sent shockwaves all the way to the edge of space and briefly weakened the outermost layer of Earth’s atmosphere, known as the ionosphere.

By studying daily records at the Radio Research Center in Slough, in the United Kingdom, a team of researchers tracked how the concentration of electrons in the ionosphere changed around the time of 152 Allied air raids in Europe. These included major bombing raids of German cities between 1943-45, as well as those bombs dropped in support of the major Allied landing at Normandy that began on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

During the conflict, Royal Air Force (RAF) and other Allied planes could carry much more weight than their counterparts in the German Luftwaffe. This allowed them to deploy such monster bombs as the “Grand Slam,” which weighed in at some 22,000 pounds and left a crater some 70 feet deep and 130 feet around during a top-secret test in March 1945.


The British Grand Slam bomb.

The researchers who conducted the new study found that when Allied bombs hit the ground, the shockwaves reached as far as 1,000 kilometers (or 621 miles) into the air. This heated up the upper atmosphere and caused the concentration of electrons in it to drop, resulting in a temporary weakness in the ionosphere.

According to their findings, published in the European Geosciences Union journal Annales Geophysicae, each bombing raid released the energy of 300 lightning strikes. Evidence showed that even though the bombs exploded in Germany, the changes could be seen in the ionosphere above Slough, hundreds of miles away.

“These were very temporary effects which heated the atmosphere very slightly,” the new study’s co-author, Chris Scott, a space and atmospheric physicist from the University of Reading (U.K.), told BBC News. “The effects …read more

Source: HISTORY

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E-Cig Regulation Likely to Burn Low-Income Americans

September 27, 2018 in Economics

By Vanessa Brown Calder

Vanessa Brown Calder

The FDA is tied in knots over e-cigarette use. On the one hand,
the FDA does not want people to smoke. But, on the other hand, the
FDA does not want people to use smoking alternatives that could
help them quit, such as e-cigarettes. To that end, the FDA recently
signaled its interest in increasing regulation of e-cigarettes
including Altria’s MarkTen and British American Tobacco’s Vuse,
with an eye towards protecting teens from potential health
effects.

As FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb put it:

[Some say] in order to protect kids, [the FDA] is going to
encumber adult smokers by putting in place restrictions that make
these products less attractive, or harder to purchase by adults.
These things may all be true.

But although the commissioner recognizes new regulation could
negatively impact adult e-cigarette consumers, he does not consider
that new restrictions may disproportionately affect the poor.

This is likely for three reasons. First, low-income and
low-skill Americans are more likely to smoke traditional
cigarettes, and more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes
heavily. For example, the CDC finds the prevalence of smoking is around two
times as high for smokers below the U.S. poverty line as for
smokers at twice the poverty level. Likewise, adults with less than
a high school education are more than 2.5 times as likely to smoke
as adults with a college degree.

Second, when it comes to quitting smoking, poor and
less-educated Americans have the hardest time. A CDC report suggests that smokers with less than
a high school degree are less than half as likely to report
recently quitting smoking as smokers with graduate degrees. And
adults at or above the poverty level are more likely to report
recently quitting than those below the poverty level.

Evidence suggests
e-cigarettes are an easy way for poor American smokers to improve
their health. Unfortunately, future restrictions may change
that.

Third, poor and less-educated Americans are more likely to use
e-cigarettes. According to a recent study, 10.2 percent of individuals in households with
between $0-$20,000 of income have used e-cigarettes, whereas about
half as many individuals in households with $75,000 of annual
income or more have used e-cigarettes. Education levels break the
same way: Around twice as many individuals with less than a high
school degree have ever used an e-cigarette, compared to
individuals with a college degree or more.

Why does this matter? Low income and less-educated Americans
report lower levels of access to health care and poorer health
outcomes along a variety of metrics. E-cigarettes ostensibly
provide an affordable avenue to improve health for smokers that
can’t afford professional help …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Who's Really to Thank for Booming Economy: Donald Trump or Barack Obama?

September 27, 2018 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Economic growth is up, unemployment is down, and President
Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama are fighting over who should get the credit. Both
are offering a certain amount of truth on behalf of their claim,
along with a healthy dose of hyperbole and more than a little
statistical cherry-picking.

Trump, for instance, inherited an economy that was in the
process of bouncing back after a long recessionary trough. This
makes it hard to disentangle the results of his policies from the
broader trend.

It is fair, for instance, for Obama to suggest that the
recession ended and the economy started growing again on his watch.
In fact, if you were to chart various economic indicators on a
graph, you would be hard pressed to find exactly where the Obama
presidency ended and Trump’s began. To cite just one example, the
U.S. economy created nearly 4 million jobs in the last 18 months of Obama’s
term, virtually indistinguishable of the first 18 months of
Trump’s.

Both are suggesting that
it is the president — and government more generally —
that drives America’s economic engine. They are both
wrong.

Of course, Obama was starting from the nadir of the Great
Recession, so economic and job growth should have been expected.
And many economists suggest that the increased taxes, onerous
regulations enacted in bills such as Dodd-Frank and the Affordable
Care Act, as well as the perception that Obama was anti-business,
slowed the economic recovery. In terms of economic output, this was
the slowest economic recovery since World War
II.

Moreover, it is noteworthy that growth had slowed during Obama’s
last year in office, dropping from 2.3 percent in the second quarter of 2016 to just 1.8
percent in the final quarter.

Donald Trump’s economy

Meanwhile, economic growth under Trump has averaged 2.9 percent, and will likely top 3 percent this year. That’s
considerably more than the 1.5-1.75 percent growth rate predicted by the
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco when Trump took office.

The economy has also added 3.6 million jobs since the start of
Trump’s presidency, and unemployment has declined from
4.8 percent to 3.9 percent
. Unemployment rates for women,
African-Americans and Latinos are all at multi-decade lows. Real disposable income —
which barely rose during Obama’s tenure — is now growing
about .3 percent. And small-business optimism has reached its
highest level ever recorded.

On the other hand, it is far too soon for many of the
president’s initiatives, such as tax and regulatory cuts, to have
fundamentally altered …read more

Source: OP-EDS