Hearing sets up dramatic showdown between Kavanaugh, accuser WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans on Monday abruptly called Brett Kavanaugh and the woman accusing him of sexual assault decades ago to testify publicly next week, grudgingly setting…
Hearing sets up dramatic showdown between Kavanaugh, accuser
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans on Monday abruptly called Brett Kavanaugh and the woman accusing him of sexual assault decades ago to testify publicly next week, grudgingly setting up a dramatic showdown they hoped would prevent the allegation from sinking his nomination to the Supreme Court.
Senate leaders announced the move under pressure from fellow Republicans who wanted a fuller, open examination of the allegations from Christine Blasey Ford, a college professor in California. After initially suggesting a private conference call on the matter would suffice, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said his panel would hold a hearing next Monday “to provide ample transparency.”
The move forced Republicans to put off a planned committee vote for Thursday on Kavanaugh’s nomination. The delay makes it increasingly difficult for Kavanaugh to win approval by Oct. 1, when the new session of the Supreme Court begins. It also sets up a public, televised airing of sexual misconduct allegations, reminiscent of the seminal hearings against Clarence Thomas in 1991, that could derail Kavanaugh’s nomination altogether.
Just hours earlier, top Republicans had shown no interest in a theatrical spectacle that would thrust Kavanaugh and Ford before television cameras with each offering public— and no doubt conflicting and emotional — versions of what did or didn’t happen at a high school party in the early 1980s.
Instead, Grassley had said he’d seek telephone interviews with Kavanaugh and Ford, winning plaudits from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for planning to handle the episode “by the book.” Democrats rejected that plan, saying the seriousness of the charges merited a full FBI investigation.
Emergency crews throw supply lifeline to isolated Wilmington
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Throwing a lifeline to a city surrounded by floodwaters, emergency crews delivered food and water to Wilmington on Monday as rescuers picked up more people stranded by Hurricane Florence and the storm’s remnants took aim at the densely populated Northeast.
The death toll from Florence rose to at least 32, and crews elsewhere used helicopters and boats to rescue people trapped by still-rising rivers.
“Thank you,” a frazzled, shirtless Willie Schubert mouthed to members of a Coast Guard helicopter crew who plucked him and his dog Lucky from atop a house encircled by water in Pollocksville. It was not clear how long he had been stranded.
A day earlier, Wilmington’s entire population of 120,000 people was cut off by flooding. By midday Monday, authorities reopened a single unidentified road into the town, which stands on a peninsula. But it wasn’t clear if that the route would remain open as the Cape Fear River kept swelling. And officials did not say when other roads might be clear.
In some places, the rain finally stopped, and the sun peeked through, but North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned that dangerously high water would persist for days. He urged residents who were evacuated from the hardest-hit areas to stay away because of closed roads and catastrophic flooding that submerged entire communities.
S. Korea’s Moon wants ‘heart-to-heart’ summit talks with Kim
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Monday that he will push for “irreversible, permanent peace,” and for better dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington, during “heart-to-heart” talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this week. His chief of staff, however, played down the chance that Moon’s summit with Kim will produce major progress in nuclear diplomacy.
Moon flies to Pyongyang on Tuesday for his third summit of the year with Kim. This one comes as global diplomatic efforts to rid North Korea of its nuclear program have stalled and questions have been raised about how serious Kim is about following through with his vague commitments to denuclearize.
“I aim to have lots of heart-to-heart talks with Chairman Kim Jong Un,” Moon said during a meeting with top advisers, according to his office. “What I want to achieve is peace. I mean irreversible, permanent peace that is not shaken by international politics.”
To achieve such a peace, Moon said he’ll focus during the summit on easing a decades-long military standoff between the Koreas and promoting a North Korea-U.S. dialogue on denuclearization issues.
Moon said he wants “to find a middle ground between a U.S. request for (North Korea’s) denuclearization and the North’s request for corresponding measures such as ending hostile relations and security assurances.”
Kim, Moon start possibly most challenging Korean summit yet
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrived in North Korea on Tuesday for his third and possibly most challenging summit yet with leader Kim Jong Un in which he hopes to break an impasse in talks with the United States over the North’s denuclearization and breathe energy into his own efforts to expand and improve relations between the Koreas.
In what are by now familiar images of the two Korean leaders hugging and exchanging warm smiles, Kim greeted Moon at Pyongyang’s airport. They walked together past cheering crowds and a military honor guard then took a drive into the city, where security was higher than usual.
Traveling with Moon are business tycoons including Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong, underscoring Moon’s hopes to expand cross-border business projects. Currently, all major joint projects between the Koreas are stalled because of U.S.-led sanctions.
Moon was expected to have talks with Kim on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Moon’s chief of staff. Moon and Kim were also expected to hold a joint news conference on Wednesday if their two sets of summit meetings go smoothly. Moon is to return to Seoul on Thursday.
North Korea’s state-run media reported early Tuesday that Moon was to begin a visit, but said little else. It said the two will reaffirm their previous commitments to “peace, prosperity and the reunification of the Korean Peninsula.”
Claire Foy and Matthew Rhys win top drama acting Emmys
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Claire Foy of “The Crown” and Matthew Rhys of “The Americans” won top drama acting Emmys as Monday’s ceremony spread its wealth around to streaming and cable but largely snubbed broadcasting and diversity.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Amazon’s freshman sitcom about a 1950s homemaker turned edgy stand-up comedian, took an early lead at the Emmy Awards, which gently mocked itself for its own lack of diverse winners.
“Mrs. Maisel” star Rachel Brosnahan was honored as best comedy actress, Alex Borstein earned the supporting actress trophy and the series creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, nabbed writing and directing awards. The show itself was crowned best comedy series.
The field bested by Foy included last year’s winner Elisabeth Moss for “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Sandra Oh of “Killing Eve,” who could have been the first actor of Asian descent to get a top drama award.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” said Foy, honored for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in the Netflix series.
1st private moon flight passenger to invite creative guests
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa said Monday that he plans to blast off on the first-ever private commercial trip around the moon and will invite six to eight artists, architects, designers and other creative people on the weeklong journey “to inspire the dreamer in all of us.”
The SpaceX Big Falcon Rocket is scheduled to make the trip in 2023, company founder Elon Musk announced at an event Monday at its headquarters near Los Angeles.
Maezawa, 42, said he wants his guests for the lunar orbit “to see the moon up close, and the Earth in full view, and create work to reflect their experience.”
Musk said the entrepreneur, founder of Japan’s largest retail website and one the country’s richest people, will pay “a lot of money” for the trip, but declined to disclose the exact amount. Maezawa came to SpaceX with the idea for the group flight, Musk said.
“I did not want to have such a fantastic experience by myself,” said Maezawa, wearing a blue sports jacket over a white T-shirt with printed with a work by the late painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. He said he often mused about what artists like Basquiat or Andy Warhol might have come up with if they’d traveled into space.
Man caught shaving on train in viral video says don’t judge
NEW YORK (AP) — A man who was mocked online after he was recorded shaving at his seat on a commuter train headed out of New York City said he was just trying to clean up after days spent in a homeless shelter.
Anthony Torres, 56, told The Associated Press that the people judging him on social media don’t know the struggle he’s been through in his life.
“My life is all screwed up. That’s the reason I was shaving on the train,” he said.
A fellow passenger on a Thursday evening New Jersey Transit train took video of Torres, sitting in his seat, steadily swiping away at his lathered face and tossing the shaving cream from the razor onto the floor. The video , posted on Twitter, had 2.4 million views by Monday afternoon. Another video showed a clean-shaven Torres with a beer in his hand.
The self-grooming earned its share of negative comments on the internet, with insults like “slob,” ”animal” and “nasty.” Others humorously lauded his steady hand with a razor. A few cautioned against passing judgment and suggested people didn’t know the whole story.
In Carolinas, a question as the rivers rise: Stay or go?
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — The river seethed a quarter-mile away, bulging from its banks, so the patrol cars circled the neighborhood three times.
“Get out now,” a voice boomed from a bullhorn. “This is an emergency.”
Waheeda Reese and her 14-year-old daughter, Anissa, were inside watching news reports about drowned towns all over the state and rain that hadn’t yet stopped.
“All that water is going to come this way,” Anissa said, trying to convince her mother it was time to leave. The city had taped a mandatory evacuation notice to their front door, and a friend in the fire department had called to warn: “I don’t want to have to come pick you up in a boat.”
They still had 22 hours until a deadline to go, and Waheeda wanted to stay. She pointed out the window and said, wishfully, “Look, I think the rain’s letting up.”
US slashes number of refugees to 30,000 for next year
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. will slash the number of refugees it will accept for a second straight year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday, insisting amid criticism from human rights groups that the country is still committed to providing sanctuary to people fleeing the world’s danger zones.
Up to 30,000 refugees will be allowed into the country next year, down from a cap of 45,000 this year. It will be the lowest ceiling on admissions since the program began in 1980. The announcement comes despite calls from global humanitarian groups that this year’s cap of 45,000 was too low.
Pompeo sought to head off potential criticism of the reduction by noting that the U.S. would process more than 280,000 asylum claims in addition to more than 800,000 already inside the country who are awaiting a resolution of their claims.
“These expansive figures continue the United States’ long-standing record as the most generous nation in the world when it comes to protection-based immigration and assistance,” he said.
The 30,000 cap is the maximum number of refugees the U.S. will admit during the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. The actual number allowed in could be lower. So far this year, the U.S. has only admitted 20,918 refugees for the fiscal year set to end in two weeks, according to State Department records.
Trump declassifies documents related to FBI Russia probe
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Monday declassified a trove of documents related to the early days of the FBI’s Russia investigation, including a portion of a secret surveillance warrant application and former FBI Director James Comey’s text messages.
Trump made the extraordinary move in response to calls from his allies in Congress who say they believe the Russia investigation was tainted by anti-Trump bias within the ranks of the FBI and Justice Department. It also came as Trump continued his efforts to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe in the wake of the guilty plea of his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and amid the ongoing grand jury investigation into a longtime associate, Roger Stone.
Trump’s decision will result in the release of text messages and documents involving several top Justice Department and FBI officials who Trump has repeatedly attacked over the last year.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Trump’s decision in a written statement, saying the president had directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Justice Department to declassify the documents “at the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency.” It was unclear how soon the documents would be released.
In statements Monday evening, the Justice Department and the office of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said they are working together to comply with Trump’s order, which triggers a declassification review by various agencies “to seek to ensure the safety of America’s national security interests.” That review is now ongoing.