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Trump Is Finally Forced to Call an FBI Investigation into Allegations Against Kavanaugh — and a Key Witness Agrees to Talk

September 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

This is what Democrats have been asking for.


President Donald Trump on Friday finally called for an FBI background investigation into the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh after Democrats called for the move for almost two weeks.

“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file,” Trump said. “As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”

He was forced into this position after Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, declared that he was not comfortable moving forward with a vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation in the full Senate unless a week-long investigation was conducted. Joined by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Flake was able to pressure Republican leadership into calling for the investigation. With the Senate refusing to vote unless Kavanaugh was investigated, Trump had no choice but to call for the probe.

The committee released a statement Friday asking that the “administration instruct the FBI to conduct a supplemental background investigation with respect to the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be Associate Justice on the Supreme Court.”

It said the probe should “be limited to the current credible allegations against the nominee and must be completed no later than one week from today.”

Mark Judge, a man who has been identified by one of Kavanaugh's accusers as a person who was in the room when the assault occurred, said through a lawyer that he is willing to speak with law enforcement about the matter. Democrats, in addition to calling for an FBI investigation, has also insisted that Judge face questions.

Previously, when it was just Democrats calling for the investigation, many Republicans had insisted that the move would be improper or pointless. Trump himself said, “The FBI said they really don't do that.”

This was obviously false at the time — all it took was the president's say so for the FBI to look into the matter. With the help of Flake and Murkowski — and the clear pressure they faced from the American people …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Bigger Than Politics': CNN's Brooke Baldwin Tears Up on Air While Sharing Intimate Details of a Sexual Assault

September 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

“This is a pivotal moment in America for all of us.”


Yesterday's hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which Dr. Christine Blasey Ford told the story of her sexual assault at the hands of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, was a tense and resonant moment for the whole nation. It sparked a fresh wave of protests, and resulted in even a handful of Republican senators pushing leadership to delay a final vote on the nomination pending an FBI probe of the allegation. It struck a chord with millions upon millions of women who have been in similar situations, and who usually stay silent.

One person who was deeply impacted by what happened yesterday was CNN's Brooke Baldwin, who described the significance of the moment in a tearful monologue — and in the process, appeared to shared intimate details about a sexual assault, though it was clear who the victim was.

“I wrote something about all of this that I just wanted to share with all of you today,” she began. “This matters. What we witnessed in that hearing was nothing short of extraordinary. Put the partisan politics and the insults and the spin to one side. I want to mark this pivotal moment in American history when sexual assault, something that often doesn't elicit more than a shameful whisper, is thrust into the open on national television. Millions tuned in, from home, from your mobile device, the subway, even a dad and a daughter in a chemotherapy session. This matters.”

“Yesterday morning the nation watched as Christine Blasey Ford shared her truth,” Baldwin continued. “Look at her. You can see the struggle, the pain. She didn't want to be there. But she said it was her civic duty. She admitted she was terrified. All of this was all on television, and as it played out, I saw women here at work in tears. I had a young woman in my office wiping her eyes, as she felt compelled, after listening to the testimony, to share her truth with me. I was texting with a dear friend who had …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'A Conspiratorial Mindset': Conservative Writer Max Boot Demolishes Kavanaugh's 'Damning' Testimony Revealing His Naked Partisanship

September 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

Sen. Lindsey Graham also displayed a conspiratorial flair.


Within the Republican pro-Trump bubble, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s emotional and overwrought testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, September 27 is being hailed as the heartfelt outcry of a man who is being wrongly railroaded and slandered by Democratic Party partisans. But not everyone on the right sees it that way. And in a Washington Post commentary published the following day, journalist Max Boot—a NeverTrump right-winger who expressed his disdain for Donald Trump’s presidency by leaving the Republican Party—is as critical of Kavanaugh’s testimony as he is of Sen. Lindsey Graham and others on the Senate Judiciary Committee who ranted and raved on Kavanaugh’s behalf at the hearing.

Boot denounced Kavanaugh’s testimony as “evasive and deceptive” as well as “the most acerbic and abusive appearance of any nominee I have ever seen before any Senate committee,” adding, “His face contorted in anger, he blasted Senate Democrats for replacing ‘advise and consent with search and destroy,’ and turning the confirmation process into ‘a national disgrace.’”

Kavanaugh’s testimony, Boot asserted, “reflected a conspiratorial mindset—another hallmark of the modern GOP—when he charged that he was the victim of ‘pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election’ and even of Democrats seeking ‘revenge on behalf of the Clintons.’ If that’s what this was about, why didn’t the previous Trump nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil M. Gorsuch, face any accusations of sexual assault?”

Boot’s criticism of Sen. Graham in his September 27 Washington Post piece was similar to the criticisms Graham received from another anti-Trump voice on the right: MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, who asserted that the South Carolina senator has “gone from being John McCain’s wingman in politics to becoming Donald Trump’s carnival barker.” Boot, similarly, declared that Graham is now “bereft of the adult supervision once provided by former Senate colleague John McCain.”

Boot, noting that Graham “matched Kavanaugh outburst-for-outburst,” criticized the senator for not “seriously questioning Kavanaugh” at the hearing.

Kavanaugh supporters, Boot wrote, “don’t care what the evidence says about the possibility that Kavanaugh may be guilty of sexual assault charges. …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Vote on Brett Kavanaugh Won't Solve America’s Deeper Supreme Court Problems

September 28, 2018 in Economics

By Roger Pilon

Roger Pilon

The circus surrounding the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh has shown beyond any doubt how
deeply divided America is. And when the dust settles, we’ll still
be divided. So too will be the Court. To see why, and how we got
here, we need to start at the beginning.

In a nutshell, our founding documents were designed mainly to
secure liberty under limited government, especially after the
Civil War amendments were added to the
Constitution, checking what states could do. We didn’t always abide
by those ideals, but generally we lived life in the private sector,
our relationships ordered by common-law principles of property and
contract.

Early 20th century progressives rejected that vision
fundamentally. They wanted to promote social and economic change
through statutory law. But the courts rejected much of that
legislation on constitutional grounds, most sharply during
President Franklin Roosevelt’s first term. After his landslide
reelection in 1936, he tried to pack the Supreme Court with six new
members. Congress rejected the scheme, but the Court got
the message.

Over the next few years, the Court opened the floodgates for the
modern redistributive and regulatory state, reduced economic
liberty to a second-class status, and, in 1943, allowed Congress to
delegate ever more of its legislative power to the executive-branch
agencies Congress had been creating. Today, this is where much of
our law is written—not by Congress, but by unelected
bureaucrats. The Constitution was thus turned on its head and
politicized.

However the issues
immediately before us are resolved, we need to focus on the bigger
constitutional questions underlying them.

As statutory polices replaced common-law principles, things have
grown only more complicated. In short, while the Court was
“active” in authorizing these changes, it was
essentially deferential to Congress, the president and the states,
which allowed government to grow, unchecked by constitutional
constraints. That posture would change in the 1950s, however, when
the Court finally turned to civil rights. But not all of that
liberal activism was grounded in the Constitution, as with the
Court’s 1973 abortion decision, and that led to a
conservative backlash.

Thus, we now had two jurisprudential schools: liberals urging
“judicial activism,” to promote “evolving liberal
values,” conservatives urging “judicial
restraint,” making peace essentially with the New Deal
Court’s deference to the political branches. With the
election of Ronald Reagan, the conservative school came to the
fore—and the brutal fight over his nomination of Robert Bork to the Court in 1987 saw all of
these forces collide, beginning a three-decades-long battle for
control of the Court.

But neither camp is grounded in the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Here's the Sinister Reason Why Even Trump Is Saying He Found Christine Blasey Ford 'Very Credible'

September 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

It's entirely calculated.


One of the most notable aspects of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Thursday was the fact that no Republican members directly attacked or criticized Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. In fact, Republicans hired a female sex crimes prosecutor to question her so they could avoid confronting her at all.

And on Friday, when asked about her testimony, President Donald Trump said Ford was “very compelling” and “very credible” — echoing what other Republicans have said about her.

But there's a reason they talk this way — and it's not because they respect Ford and find her trustworthy.

In fact, when they expound upon what they actually think, most Republicans on the Senate and in the White House make it clear that they don't believe Ford at all. On the other hand, they clearly do believe Kavanaugh when he says he didn't assault her or do anything else that he has been accused of doing.

At best, Republicans say that they believe Ford's account is true, though she is mistaken about who attacked her — even though she is 100 percent sure about her assailant's identity and has vivid memories of the experience. At the same time, Republicans criticize her for not having precise memories about the number of people at the party or how she got home that night.

And conversely, the GOP doesn't seem to think that Kavanaugh could have forgotten the incident. Of course, he could have blacked out completely during the attack, since Ford says she was excessively drunk. Or he could have blocked it out, or otherwise twisted it in his memory, out of shame or another coping mechanism. Or — most plausibly — he simply is lying when he says it never occurred because he has immense power and his reputation to protect. The likelihood that this is the case is higher than it would otherwise be because Kavanaugh was obviously lying in other parts of his testimony.

But Republicans have learned that the world has changed since 1991 …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Lasers Reveal 60,000 Ancient Maya Structures in Guatemala

September 28, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

“This is HOLY [expletive] territory,” tweeted one archaeologist about the discoveries.


Laser technology helped detect more than 60,000 previously unknown structures in northern Guatemala.

The largest-ever survey of a region from the . Now, they write that their research provides “robust support” for the view that the central lowlands had a complex structure and supported a large population.

“Every Maya city was bigger and more populated than we previously thought,” archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli, one of the study’s authors, told Science News.

The newly-discovered structures, together with the modified agricultural terrain the study also identified, leads researchers to estimate that 7 million to 11 million Maya people lived in northern Guatemala during the civilization’s Late Classic Period from 650 to 800 A.D. The survey, the authors write, “compels a reevaluation of Maya demography, agriculture, and political economy.”

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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Sen. Jeff Flake Calls for a One-Week FBI Investigation Ahead of Full Senate Vote on Brett Kavanaugh

September 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

This sets back the nominee's full vote.


The Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to approve Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination Friday afternoon, but with the caveat that Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) announced that he wants a one-week investigation into the allegations of sexual assault against him.

However, there was initially confusion about what Flake was proposing. He clarified after the committee vote that he would only “feel comfortable” with a full vote in the Senate if the FBI conducted its investigation.

Ultimately, whether such an investigation is called before the full vote would fall to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the White House. However, without Flake's vote, the Republicans could not lose another single vote and still be able to confirm Kavanaugh.

“This country is being ripped apart here,” Flake said. “And we've got to make sure that we do due diligence.”

He added: “We can have a short pause and make sure that the FBI can investigate.”

Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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12-Ton Jurassic Dino Was the Largest to Walk the Earth

September 28, 2018 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

The newly discovered species was massive but walked with a cat-like crouch.


A reconstruction of what the newly discovered dinosaur Ledumahadi mafube may have looked like.

A newly discovered species of dinosaur weighed in at twice the heft of an African elephant and walked with a crouchlike a cat. The dinosaur roamed southern Africa during the early Jurassic Period, some 200 million years ago and, at 12 metric tons, was by far the largest creature on Earth at the time.

Ledumahadi mafube—the name means “giant thunderclap at dawn” in Southern Sotho, a Bantu language of the region—was a distant cousin of the famous sauropod Brontosaurus, but lived millions of years earlier. According to a study, .

The first fossils of this dinosaur emerged during a construction project in the late 1980s, when they were found nestled in layers of rock near the border of Lesotho, a mountainous country that South Africa completely encloses. More than a decade later, researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand returned to the site and found more bones. It wasn’t until 2017 that they were able to excavate all its remains, including a wrist bone that helped them determine the dinosaur’s distinctive manner of walking.

“It walked on all fours, but unlike an elephant, which has very rigid, erect legs, its stance would have been more crouched, like a cat or a dog,” Choiniere explained.

By tracing the growth rings in the fossilized bones, the researchers determined the dinosaur was 14 years old, and fully grown, when it died between 195 and 200 million years ago.


Closely spaced growth rings at the periphery of the fossil show that the animal is an adult.

But its mixture of features initially confused the scientists. Like its famous cousin, Brontosaurus, L. mafube was a giant plant-eater with a long, skinny neck, tiny head and long tail. But while its its back legs were huge, strong and column-like, similar to its later sauropod relatives, its front legs looked smaller and more suitable for grabbing things, like earlier two-legged sauropodomorphs.

L. mafube was a sauropodomorph, they concluded, but a much larger one than they had thought existed this early in the Jurassic. And unlike some earlier sauropodomorphs, L. mafube walked on four legs, not two, although it could rear up on its hind legs if it needed to—to nibble leaves off a tree, for example. The researchers believe …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Zalmay Khalilzad Will Try to Pave Way for Taliban Talks with Afghanistan

September 28, 2018 in Economics

By Sahar Khan

Sahar Khan

On September 5, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that Zalmay Khalilzad will join the
State Department as President Trump’s special adviser on
Afghanistan. His main mission will be to facilitate talks
between the Afghan government and Taliban.

There’s no way to know
whether Khalizad will be successful, but it’s safe to say that the
Afghan peace process just got trickier.

The big picture: Appointing Khalilzad as a
special advisor indicates that the Trump administration is serious
about
an Afghan-led peace process, and about maintaining its hardline approach toward
Pakistan. But what remains unclear is how the Pakistani government,
now led by first-time prime minister Imran Khan, will work with
Khalilzad.

Khalilzad is a known neoconservative figure in the U.S. war in
Afghanistan, which has entered its eighteenth year. He previously
served as the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq and later as
the UN ambassador during the George W. Bush administration. As an
Afghan-American, Khalilzad has a unique understanding of
Afghanistan that President Bush tried to capitalize on when Hamid Karzai was
sworn in as Afghanistan’s president in 2004.

Yes, but: His strong connection with Karzai and
the visibility of his extended family’s involvement in the Afghan government, which
included seeking contracts, raised some concerns within American
diplomatic circles about his conflicting interests. In 2008, there
was a rumor that Khalilzad might even run as a presidential candidate in
Afghanistan’s elections.

The central question is, what happens if Khalilzad is unable to
deliver? He has often advocated for creating avenues of mutual understanding between the Afghan
government and the Taliban. But he has also been very critical of
Pakistan’s sponsorship of the group, even as the Trump
administration has asked Pakistan to facilitate talks between the Afghan government and the
Taliban.

The bottom line: There’s no way to know whether
Khalizad will be successful, but it’s safe to say that the Afghan
peace process just got trickier.

Sahar Khan is a
visiting research fellow in the Cato Institute’s Defense and
Foreign Policy Department. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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11 Best Accessories for Your Truck or SUV

September 28, 2018 in History

By Lesley Kennedy

These products are guaranteed to rev up your ride.


Turn your next night of cruising into a serious party with . The non-slip waterproof covers, which work for backseat benches or hammock seating, are easy to install and clean. And they’re soft—perfect for man’s best friend. About $29, Amazon

THE QUICK AND THE (UN)DEAD

Leave the cutesy car decals to the minivan set. If monster trucks (Get it? Monster trucks?) are more your thing, opt for Berryzilla’s We Ate Your Stick Family zombie vinyl stickers. No one messes with your brood. About $3, Amazon

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

Looking for a storage solution on the road? Yaheetech’s aluminum 30×13-inch tool box offers plenty of space, a waterproof design, durable side handles and a built-in lock to keep everything safe. About $70, Amazon

LET’S SLEEP ON IT

Car camping just got real with Rightline Gear’s full-size truck-bed air mattress. Inflate or deflate it in seconds with the included air pump and, when you’re done, it folds neatly into a stuff sack, making storage a breeze. Sleeping (comfortably) under the stars? Yes, please. About $85, Amazon

BUZZ-WORTHY

Calling all java junkies/road warriors: No truck-driving coffee lover worth, well, a pile of beans wouldn’t be tempted by a great accessory for staying caffeinated. Handpresso’s 12-volt auto hybrid is an espresso machine for your vehicle, able to prepare your favorite eye-opening beverage in just two minutes. Keep it in your cup holder for easy access—and endless coffee breaks. About $160, Amazon

LAZY DAYS

Hammock life isn’t just for parks and patios. With the JammockTruck, a hammock for pickups, you’ll be lolling with the best of ‘em, no matter where your travels take you. Made with strong corder nylon, it’s got seven feet of diagonal space and fits most truck beds. Nap time? It’s on. About $81, Amazon

MADE IN THE SHADE

Be the hero of the next tailgate party with ARB’s 4×4 awning. The cool retractable accessory attaches to your truck’s roof and is made with a tough, rugged canvas that’s waterproof and UVP 50+. Maybe best of all? It only takes 30 seconds to deploy—leaving you more time to entertain. Score! About $300, Amazon

TRASH TALK

Wadded up wrappers, empty soda bottles, crumpled up parking tickets (kidding!). Keep all your truck garbage tidy in JACO’s TrashPro trash …read more

Source: HISTORY