Politics roundup: Ford testifies as part of Kavanaugh hearing


Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford delivered testimony in Supreme Court hearings this Thursday. This, plus China is accused of espionage this week.

Ford testifies, while more Kavanaugh accusers step forward

This week brought further developments in the confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh. Only a few weeks ago, it looked like it was all a done deal. Kavanaugh, a conservative stalwart nominated to the Supreme Court Justice position vacated by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, appeared poised to take his lifetime appointment and ensure a solid right-wing bent to the Supreme Court.

Now, everything seems uncertain. First there was Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who says that Kavanaugh assaulted her in the 1980s. On Thursday, she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, currently in the midst of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. Ford maintains that Kavanaugh, with his friend Mark Judge as a witness, assaulted her while Ford and Kavanaugh were still in high school.

When asked by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) if she was certain that it was Kavanaugh who attacked her, Ford said “One hundred percent.” She also told senators that her clearest memory of the night was the “uproarious laughter” between Kavanaugh and Judge. She also said that she came forward after multiple reporters approached her, questioning Ford about the assault allegations.

“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified,” Ford told the assembled Senators. While she acknowledged that some details have drifted over the course of time, she maintained that the central details of her experience “have been seared into my memory.” On multiple occasions throughout the hearing, she affirmed that Kavanaugh was the one who assaulted her.

As of now, two other confirmed women have accused Kavanaugh of assaulting them as well. Deborah Ramirez says that, while she and Kavanaugh were freshman at Yale University in the 1983-1984 school year, he exposed himself to her during a dorm room drinking game. Julie Swetnick also came forward to say that she had witnessed multiple instances of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh while he attended Georgetown Preparatory School in the 1980s.

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) also received an anonymous letter from a fourth source, in which a woman says her daughter witnessed further inappropriate behavior from Kavanaugh in 1998.

For his part, Kavanaugh and his team continue to deny the allegations. He told press that he has always “treated women with dignity and respect.” When asked about Swetnick’s allegations, he said, “This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened.”

In a press conference, the president called all the allegations a “con job”, while also implying that George Washington had a “bad past” that would have made the first president unpalatable to current day Democrats. “George Washington would be voted against 100 percent by [Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer and the con artists…. So it really doesn’t matter from their standpoint.”

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) was especially angry about the whole process, joining with other politicians who said that politicians were being unnecessarily harsh on Kavanaugh. “God help anybody else who gets nominated,” said Graham.

While Kavanaugh’s hearings still continue, the future of his nomination has dramatically changed. Many are now calling for a pause in the process, so that investigators can look into Ford’s and other accusers’ claims. Some have already begun to push for Kavanaugh’s removal from consideration. Meanwhile, the nominee’s supporters say that the Senate Judiciary Committee should continue as planned, presumably with the end goal of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The Senate is still planning to vote on his confirmation this Friday — barring any dramatic changes until then, we’re likely to learn the fate of Kavanaugh’s job soon.

Expelled Texas student challenges pledge law

In the United States, the balance between free speech rights and the dictates of a majority religious community is often tenuous. What is up to the matter of an individual’s conscience and what is up to the demands of their group? Oftentimes, the matter of things like public prayer and the pledge of allegiance fall squarely in the gray area in between.

Most recently, Texas student India Landry, 18, has filed a suit against the school district containing Windfern High School. Her school had expelled her after she had refused to stand during the pledge of allegiance, which is nominally required by local rules and regulations. Landry’s legal team maintains that her school district, Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District, violated her free speech rights when it expelled her in October 2017.

In a rare move, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton lent his support — at least vocally, if not legally — to the school district. “Schoolchildren cannot unilaterally refuse to participate in the pledge,” he said, citing a rule that allowed students to decline participation with the approval of their parents.

While we’re here, it may be a good opportunity for you to check out the history of the pledge of allegiance, which was implemented in its present form in the mid-20th century.

China reacts to election tampering claim

While investigators like Robert S. Mueller III and his team are focusing on claims of Russian-based election tampering, the president has proposed another source of the issues: China. Along with Russia, North Korea, and other suspected sources of internet espionage, the U.S. president accused China of joining this mysterious group.

The charge came during a U.N. Security Council meeting held this Wednesday in Beijing. Specifically, he said that China was meddling with the upcoming 2018 midterm elections because it was all upset about the United States’ tough stances on trade.

“I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade and we are winning on Trade,” he said. China, for its part, asked Trump to stop the “slander.”

And, finally, your palate cleanser

Listen: as an adult human being, it’s pretty darn hard to believe in fairies. No, not metaphorical fairies, but actual, real, magical tiny human-like beings that frolic through the woods and possibly grant wishes to mortal who are pure of heart.

Then again, that’s all assuming that you aren’t Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Yes, that’s the Doyle that created the uber-famous character of Sherlock Holmes. He was also a dedicated spiritualist and believer in the supernatural. When a couple of British schoolgirls came out with photographs supposedly depicting actual fairies — nevermind that said fairies seemed very familiar to illustrations in books of popular fairy tale books — Doyle, along with quite a few other prominent people and researchers of the day, really, truly wanted to believe.

Related Story. John Oliver explores Facebook’s role in Myanmar on Last Week Tonight. light

The two girls, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, hailed from the village of Cottingley in West Yorkshire. If you want to learn more about their story, check out this Telegraph story, as well as this one from homegrown Yorkshire Post. Meanwhile, if you’re feeling especially flush with cash, you can purchase some of the original photographs yourself.