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  • FEMA chief Brock Long is reportedly being investigated for improper use of government vehicles>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 10:20 PM:)
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    Brock Long

    • Federal prosecutors are handling an investigation into FEMA director Brock Long's use of government vehicles. The inquiry stems from concerns about Long driving the vehicles home during off-hours.
    • The prosecutors will determine whether Long and two other employees using government vehicles to travel from Washington, DC, to his home in North Carolina violated any federal laws.
    • Long strongly denied any wrongdoing regarding his use of the vehicles, and pushed back on reports he had been asked to resign during a Sunday morning appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."

    Federal prosecutors are handling an investigation into FEMA director Brock Long's use of government vehicles. The inquiry stems from concerns about Long driving the vehicles home during off-hours, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

    Long and two other FEMA officials are accused of using government vehicles for personal travel between Washington, DC, and Long's home in North Carolina at the taxpayer's expense. The probe into Long's actions has thus far been handled by FEMA's inspector general.

    Early on Monday, the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform launched their own investigation into Long. Chairman Trey Gowdy requested Long provide documentation about the vehicles and details on other government officials who may have been on the trips to the Committee. 

    Federal prosecutors will now determine whether or not to bring criminal charges against Long's alleged conduct, people familiar with the investigation told the Journal. It is not yet clear whether prosecutors in Washington, DC, or North Carolina are conducting the inquiry, or what charges they are weighing bringing against him.  

    The congressional and criminal probes come as Long is currently leading the agency's response to Hurricane Florence, which has affected millions on the coasts of North and South Carolina. 

    The negative publicity around Long's travel led Trump administration officials to consider firing Long as recently as last Friday, and replacing him with another administrator — even as Florence barreled towards the East Coast.

    FEMA officials who spoke about the probe on the condition of anonymity to The New York Times defended Long's use of government's vehicles for personal travel, explaining those vehicles include "classified communications equipment" that the FEMA administrator must have access to at all times per agency protocol. 

    The officials who have traveled with Long on his trips home also said they paid to stay at close by hotels using taxpayer money. 

    Long strongly denied any wrongdoing regarding his use of the vehicles, and pushed back on reports he had been asked to resign during a Sunday morning appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."

    “These vehicles are designed to provide secure communications and the program was actually developed in 2008 — it ran for me the same way it’s run for anybody else,” Long said. “And you know, it’s my understanding that maybe some policies were not developed around these vehicles.”

    SEE ALSO: Photos and videos show the flooding and devastation as Hurricane Florence hits the Carolinas

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Mark Judge: Meet Brett Kavanaugh's high-school friend and the other man named in Christine Ford's allegations against the Supreme Court nominee>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 10:15 PM:)
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    Brett Kavanaugh

    • Mark Judge is Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's high school friend and was named in allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh.
    • Christine Blasey Ford says Judge was in the room when the alleged assault took place.
    • Judge claims the alleged assault never happened and said it wouldn't fit Kavanaugh's character.
    • But Judge has come under scrutiny over past writings on rape, masculinity, and alcoholism. 
    • The allegations against Kavanaugh could derail his Supreme Court nomination. 

    The allegations that have upended the confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have also opened scrutiny on another man: Mark Judge, who Christine Blasey Ford claims was also in the room when she says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as a teenager.

    Ford claims that Judge laughed as Kavanaugh assaulted her and assisted him, claiming both were "highly inebriated" at the time. 

    "Kavanaugh physically pushed me into a bedroom as I was headed for a bathroom up a short stair well from the living room," Ford said in a letter to Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

    "They locked the door and played loud music precluding any successful attempt to yell for help," Ford added. "They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state. With Kavanaugh's hand over my mouth I feared he may inadvertently kill me."

    Ford said she was only able to escape the situation when Judge jumped onto the bed and the "pile toppled." 

    Judge denies Ford's claims

    Judge, like Kavanaugh, denies the alleged assault occurred and has claimed such an act would be contrary to Kavanaugh's character.

    "It is not who he is," Judge told The New York Times, adding that school they both attended instilled within them values that would've urged against such behavior. 

    Kavanaugh and Judge both went to Georgetown Prep, an elite, all-boys high school in the Washington, DC, area. 

    Judge, an author, filmmaker, and journalist, has floated some controversial ideas and opinions in his writings.

    In 1983, for example, one of Judge's high school yearbook quotes read: "Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs."

    One year after alleged sexual assault, Kavanaugh’s friend and alleged accomplice (Mark Judge) thought it great to associate himself with this quote in their high school yearbook 1983:

    "Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs"

    (h/t: @riotwomennn) pic.twitter.com/xmHHK0H7AI

    — Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) September 17, 2018

    Judge has also come under fire for racially charged comments, and reports have suggested he used to routinely post images of young women on social media.

    His social media accounts have apparently been deleted in recent days, however, but many of his writings are still available for access. 

    He didn't respond to a request for an interview.

    Judge wrote a memoir on his alcoholism in high school, referencing a friend named 'Bart O'Kavanaugh'

    Years after high school, Judge wrote a memoir, "Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk." It chronicled his struggles with alcoholism while a teenager, painting his days at Georgetown Prep as filled with parties and black-out drunk nights. 

    Judge changed names in the book to protect people's privacy, but he at one point referenced a friend named "Bart O'Kavanaugh." The character was described as someone who got so drunk he "puked in someone's car the other night."

    In his 1997 memoir, “Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk,” Mark Judge explained the meaning of “100 Kegs Or Bust,” a reference he and classmate Kavanaugh made on their Georgetown Prep yearbook pages 14 years earlier. pic.twitter.com/sWyZjOQ5T3

    — Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) September 17, 2018

    Ford's lawyer, Debra Katz, on Monday referenced Judge's writings on his alcoholism when discussing the alleged sexual assault.

    "My client had a beer. ... The men were stumbling drunk, one only needs to look at the writings of Mark Judge — who was the other person present — to know that he wrote ... that they were all drinking so heavily that they would black out repeatedly," she said during an appearance on CBS "This Morning."

    Was your client drinking?

    "My client had a beer...The men were stumbling drunk, one only needs to look at the writings of Mark Judge –who was the other person present– to know that he wrote..that they were all drinking so heavily that they would black out repeatedly," says Katz pic.twitter.com/yibEgFIizp

    — CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) September 17, 2018

    Judge once wrote an op-ed criticizing women who 'dress like prostitutes'

    Judge, who has written opinion pieces for an array of publications, including The Daily Caller, in November 2013 wrote an article about rape for the online magazine Acculturated that has come under scrutiny in light of Ford's allegations. 

    "Feminists argue that no means no, and that men need to understand that," Judge wrote at the time. "There’s never any excuse to rape, a crime that I think is almost akin to murder because the rapist kills a part of the human soul. And yet what women wear and their body language also send signals about their sexuality."

    Judge went on to say that women who "dress like prostitutes" send out certain signals and use their bodies for "cheap theatrics." 

    In a separate article written by Judge for SpliceToday in September 2015, he argued it's good for young men to understand that "no means no" but also said there's an "ambiguous middle ground" in which a woman seems interested and a man must "prove himself to her."

    "If that man is any kind of man, he’ll allow himself to feel the awesome power, the wonderful beauty, of uncontrollable male passion," Judge added. 

    Judge once said Barack Obama is 'the first female president'

    In an August 2013 op-ed for the Daily Caller, Judge also offered some of his views on masculinity and suggested former first lady Michelle Obama was the real "man" in her relationship with then-President Barack Obama. In this context, Judge expressed a longing for the days former President George W. Bush was in the White House. 

    "Barack Obama is the first female president," Judge wrote.

    "With her love of violent movies, her fixation on fitness, and death glare that appears when she doesn’t like what she’s hearing, Michelle is actually more man than her husband," Judge added. "Oh for the days when President George W. Bush gave his wife Laura a loving but firm pat on the backside in public. The man knew who was boss."

    Mark Judge, Kavanaugh's high school friend who was in the room when Christine Ford says she was assaulted has some pretty telling views on masculinity https://t.co/gqjWCwdCC3 pic.twitter.com/vyMAOXnOrt

    — Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) September 17, 2018

    Kavanaugh and Ford have both expressed a willingness to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the alleged assault. Some now believe Judge should also be called to testify

    SEE ALSO: 'Dems and their usual nonsense': Donald Trump Jr. mocks Kavanaugh accuser in Instagram post

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  • Democrats are starting to think Brett Kavanaugh is toast as Republicans anxiously dig in>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 9:36 PM:)
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    WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 6: Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill September 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the court left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

    • Republicans are still bullish on confirming Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, despite him being accused of sexual assaulting a teenage girl when he was in high school.
    • Democrats are demanding the FBI investigate the matter, while behind the scenes they are becoming increasingly optimistic that his nomination could sink.
    • Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a call with Kavanaugh late on Monday, even though their Democratic counterparts refused to participate.

    WASHINGTON — While Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is embroiled in an allegation that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl while in high school, Republicans and Democrats are growing increasingly at odds with what kind of process should come next and putting the appeals judge's confirmation chances on thin ice.

    Senators are breaking out into multiple factions:

    • Democrats would like the FBI to reopen a probe of the allegations from Kavanaugh's accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
    • Most Republicans have carved out their stance that follow-up calls should be made with Kavanaugh and Ford.
    • Some Republicans want additional testimony from Kavanaugh and to hear from Ford under oath, which would likely delay the necessary procedural vote the committee scheduled for Thursday.
    • Republican Sen. John Kennedy said Monday, after a meeting of Senate GOP Judiciary Committee members, that there "will be a full opportunity for the accuser and the accused to be heard."

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in a statement Monday afternoon that the FBI should handle the matter, not Judiciary Committee staff.

    "The FBI has the resources and know-how to conduct an objective, independent evaluation of these sensitive allegations with appropriately trained investigators," she said. "This isn’t just about an interview, it’s about analyzing information and gathering the facts. That’s what the FBI does, and that’s why they’re in charge of the background review process."

    But Republican staffers have already begun the process. At the direction of the committee's chairman, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, staffers conducted a phone call with Kavanaugh late Monday afternoon, while Democrats refused to take part.

    Possibility of additional hearings

    While Kavanaugh testified for several days earlier this month, the possibility of additional hearings is becoming more real by the minute. And some Republicans, including one of the only swing votes on Kavanaugh's confirmation in Sen. Susan Collins, want a more in-depth approach to assessing both sides of the story.

    "For my part, I believe that it’s very important that both Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh testify under oath about these allegations," Collins told reporters on Monday. "And for my part I need to see them and listen to their answers to the questions in order to make an assessment."

    The different positions on how to handle the allegations has some Democrats thinking Kavanaugh does not make it through the confirmation process and at risk of losing crucial votes he might need from the Senate's moderate Democrats facing re-election. One Democratic aide told Business Insider that "this gives red state [Democrats] all the cover they need" to not feel pressured to back Kavanaugh, while another thinks he is "toast."

    Meanwhile, Republicans are digging in their heels, confident that they can still get Kavanaugh through to confirmation. If they cannot confirm him, many GOP aides believe the next nominee would not be as difficult, as the urgency to fill the vacant seat would increase and Trump could even end up selecting a more conservative nominee.

    And Trump himself appeared to not balk at the prospect of delayed hearings, telling reporters at the White House on Monday that if "it takes a little delay, it'll take a little delay."

    "But again, this is something that should have been brought up long before this. They had the information in July as I understand it," Trump added. "That’s a long time ago and nobody mentioned it until the other day. You know, it’s very unfortunate they didn’t mention it sooner. But with all of that being said, it will, I'm sure, work out very well."

    SEE ALSO: Here's an evolving count of which senators are voting for Trump's Supreme Court pick

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  • Vince Cable says Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg have an 'erotic' fixation with leaving the EU>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 9:30 PM:)
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    Sir Vince Cable

    • Sir Vince Cable will call on Theresa May to display "true leadership" and hold a second Brexit referendum.
    • In his speech to Lib Dem conference, Cable is set to say  May is "delivering a policy she doesn't believe in; failing in negotiations; losing public support" in order to appease Brexit "extremists."
    • He will accuse hard Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg of having an "erotic" fixation with leaving the EU.
    • Cable will address conference amid intense speculation about his leadership.

     

    BRIGHTON — Sir Vince Cable will use his keynote speech to Lib Dem conference to accuse hard Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg of having an "erotic" fixation with crashing out of the European Union.

    Speaking in Brighton on Tuesday morning, Cable will say hard Brexiteers in the Conservative party want to create "years of economic pain justified by the erotic spasm of leaving the European Union."

    Cable will also say he is "starting to feel sorry" for Theresa May, who he will claim is "delivering a policy she doesn't believe in; failing in negotiations; losing public support" in order to appease pro-Brexit "extremists."

    The Lib Dem leader will call on Prime Minister May to display "true leadership" by giving the British public a People's Vote — a referendum on the final Brexit deal — after Article 50 negotiations come to an end next year.

    "She [May] could admit that the Brexit project has gone badly wrong... by conceding that the deal — any deal, or no deal — that she will bring back from Brussels is not going to be better for Britain than remaining in the EU.

    "Instead of kowtowing to her enemies in the Conservative Party, she could lead her party and the country by opening her mind to a 'People's Vote' on the final deal," the former minister is set to say.

    On Monday, Lib Dem members voted overwhelmingly for a motion calling on the UK government to cancel Brexit by revoking Article 50 if there is no Withdrawal Agreement the beginning of March 2019. A Lib Dem source told BI that this should be the last resort, and used only if the EU refused to extend Article 50 negotiations.

    Cable addressed the Lib Dems' annual autumn conference after weeks of speculation about his own future.

    This month the former minister confirmed a Business Insider report that he plans to resign as Lib Dem leader prior to the next scheduled general election in 2022, with 2019 being the likely year of his departure.

    Gina Miller, the anti-Brexit campaigner who took May's government to court in 2016, ruled herself out of the race to succeed Cable on Monday, telling the conference: "I am not addressing you as your leader-in-waiting."<

    Miller has been tipped as a potential successor with the party set to pass reforms which will allow non-MPs to stand in future leadership contests, and people who aren't full party members vote in them.

    SEE ALSO: Moderate Conservative and Labour MPs are in talks with the Lib Dems to form a new centrist alliance

    DON'T MISS: Gina Miller says the anti-Brexit campaign is failing to convince the public to hold a second referendum

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  • Trump is pushing for a legislation to remove 'gag clauses' — here's what you need to know about them>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 8:46 PM:)
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    U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a Congressional Medal of Honor Society reception at the East Room of the White House September 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. President hosted a reception to honor Medal of Honor recipients. (Photo by )

    • President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday to voice his support for a legislation that would ban "gag clauses" that limit the ability of pharmacists to tell consumers whether paying cash for drugs or through insurance would be cheaper. 
    • A Senate vote on the bill is expected to happen on Monday. 
    • Eliminating "gag clauses" is part of the Trump Administration's blueprint to lower drug prices for US consumers. 

    The Trump Administration has been extremely vocal in the past about lowering drug prices. From trying to eliminate pharmacy benefit managers to calling out drug companies on Twitter, President Donald Trump has openly stated his grievances.

    On Monday, President Trump highlighted in a tweet his support for legislation that will remove so-called "gag clauses" which limit the ability of pharmacists to tell consumers whether paying cash or through insurance would be cheaper. Such clauses make it harder for consumers to gauge how affordable a drug can be, and they can wind up overpaying. 

    Americans deserve to know the lowest drug price at their pharmacy, but “gag clauses” prevent your pharmacist from telling you! I support legislation that will remove gag clauses and urge the Senate to act. #AmericanPatientsFirst

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 17, 2018

    In March, the US Senate introduced the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act, which would ban these type sof clauses. Individual states like Arkansas took matters into their own hands and have already banned them within the state. This effort makes Arkansas the first state to regulate pharmacy benefit managers, the middlemen that issue drug rebates to employers and insurers.

    Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar has also announced that steps will be taken nationally to change up the roles and functions of PBMs to decrease the cost of drugs across the board. He has also voiced his support for the elimination of gag clauses.

    The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Senators Susan Collins, Claire McCaskill and Debbie Stabenow, is named “The Patient Right to Know Drug Prices” and would block insurers or PBMs from preventing pharmacists from openly discussing costs and alternatives with customers. The upper chamber is expected to vote on the bill on Monday.

    The senate already passed a bill earlier this month that bans gag clauses in Medicare Advantage and Medicare “Part D” plans.

    This is not the first time that Trump has criticized gag clauses. Speaking about his blueprint for lowering drug pricing in May, he called the gag rule a "total rip off" and said that his administration is going to end it. 

    See also:

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  • Ford is investing rapidly in the US and will have the 'freshest showrooms in the industry by 2020,' an exec says (F)>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 7:30 PM:)
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    Ford Focus Active

     

    Last month, Ford decided to abandon a strategy of importing a new small vehicle, the Focus Active, to the US from China because Trump administration tariffs would have undermined the car's profitability.

    Trump celebrated the decision on Twitter by suggesting that Ford could now build the Focus Active in the US, but the carmaker quickly pointed out that domestic manufacturing of a vehicle that was expected to sell just 50,000 units a year didn't make sense.

    "It was going to have a marginal impact on our volume," said Kumar Galhotra, Ford's North American President, in an interview with Business Insider. "In the in the present tariff structure, it just didn’t make sense."

    Still, Galhotra added that "it would have been nice to have the vehicle here — it's always disappointing to lose a vehicle we had at that price point."

    Ford is revamping its lineup of vehicles in the US, effectively ending new investments in sedans and going all-in with the SUVs, crossover, and pickup trucks that consumers are demanding (the iconic Mustang muscle car will also remain in the portfolio). 

    Tariffs undermined the Focus Active's niche, but Ford isn't pulling back on US investment

    Kumar Galhotra

    The Focus Active was intended to fill a small niche: a compact vehicle lifted up on its suspension to function as a sort of hatchback-SUV hybrid — a 21st-century station wagon, with the only real US competition coming mainly from Subaru's Crosstrek. Pricing would likely have been in the $25,000 ballpark or slightly below.

    Ford had planned to shift small-car production to a new $1.6-billion Mexico plant, but the automaker nixed that in 2017 in favor of moving production to China. 

    With that strategy now apparently off the agenda, the company will concentrate on continued US investment, which according to Galhotra is considerable.

    "We have a lot of new product coming over next couple of years," he said. "We expect to have the freshest showrooms in the industry by 2020, and a lot of the investment is in the US. We're not pulling back, and we're investing rapidly."

    Ford will ultimately replace 75 percent of its lineup and engage in a comprehensive effort to engineer hybrid gas-electric versions of its cars and trucks that have high sales and generate big profits.

    Galhotra noted that the new Ranger pickup truck will arrive next year, and the new Bronco SUV will follow. He said that Ford both employs more hourly workers in the US than any other automaker — and exports more vehicles from the US annually than anybody else.

    "If you look at overall volume in the US, a very large portion is designed here and built here. The F-Series [pickup] is designed built here. The Explorer [SUV] is designed and built here. At a much broader level, that translates into a lot of jobs in the US."

    The new Lincoln Navigator full-size SUV is also in such high demand that Galhotra said Ford can't keep the vehicle on dealers' lots. 

    Lincoln Navigator

    Although Ford is spending plenty of money to remain competitive in the US, its biggest market and world's toughest, the company doesn't intend to build new factories. 

    "I believe we have the right footprint in US right now," Galhotra said. "Our products are successful where our capacity utilization is good."

    Auto execs don't like uncertainty, but Ford isn't in conflict with the Trump administration

    Trump Syria

    From the outside, it might appear as though Ford is at odds with the administration, but Galhotra said that is not the case. 

    When it comes to the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Galhotra said that as far as the Mexico aspect is concerned, he was looking forward to the result.

    "For as much as we know about the details of the agreement, based on what the administration has shared with us, I'm very encouraged. It's a good deal for the industry and for us."

    For the Canadian piece of NAFTA, he added that Ford is hoping for a similar resolution and should find out what a deal looks like relatively soon as an end-of-September deadline approaches, but that the next two weeks could bring some uncertainty.

    Because auto executives operate in a capital-intensive business and have to make major investment decisions on long timelines, uncertainty is never good. But although the Trump administration has been anything but consistent and has periodically put carmakers in an awkward position, Galhotra didn't suggest that it was inordinately putting the multinational in a stressful position.

    "It’s part of doing business," he said. "We work with all administrations, all around the globe. We try to be nimble, and we provide our point of view. Actually, we have very cordial discussions."

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  • THE BIG ONE: Trump is set to slam China with tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods, taking the trade war to the next level>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 7:23 PM:)
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    trump xi us china boxing 2x1

    • President Donald Trump is expected to hit China with tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
    • The move is seen as a major escalation of the US-China trade war.
    • China is expected to respond with more tariffs.
    • Economists expect the tariffs to increase the cost of goods for US consumers and possibly slow the broader US economy.

    President Donald Trump is expected to order the US trade representative to impose tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, catapulting the US-China trade war to the next level.

    During a White House meeting on Monday, Trump said an announcement on the tariffs would come after the stock market close. According to reports, a 10% duty could be applied to a slew of goods ranging from food to furniture.

    The latest tariffs, along with previous rounds on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods and metal imports, would mean that goods representing over half of the total value of the US's imports from China would be subject to duties.

    "It will be a lot of money coming into the coffers of the United States of America," Trump said.

    China's Ministry of Commerce has promised to respond with tariffs on $60 billion worth of US goods. That would mean that goods representing 85% to 95% of the total value of China's imports from the US would be subject to tariffs from the trade war.

    The move would also solidify Trump's commitment to the trade war despite the Treasury Department's recent overtures to Beijing. China will decline further talks if Trump goes through with the latest tariffs, Bloomberg reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.

    The president has also threatened to slap tariffs on another $267 billion worth of Chinese goods, which would mean that virtually all imports from China would be subject to duties.

    In addition to being much larger than previous rounds of tariffs, the new set would zero in on different targets. The first round of tariffs, on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, focused almost exclusively on industrial goods, but the new tariffs could also include a large number of consumer goods.

    Economists have said the tariffs could prompt an increase in prices for both US businesses and consumers. That could slow spending on large investments and consumer purchases, potentially harming the broader economy.

    Stocks also declined on Trump's statement, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing down 91 points, or 0.35%, for the day.

    Here's a timeline of the US-China trade war so far:

    • March 1: President Donald Trump announces tariffs on all imports of steel and aluminum, including metals from China.
    • March 22: Trump announces plans to impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. China announces tariffs in retaliation to the steel and aluminum duties and promises a response to the latest US announcement.
    • April 3: The US trade representative announces a list of Chinese goods subject to the tariffs. There is a mandatory 60-day comment period for industries to ask for exemptions from the tariffs.
    • April 4: China rolls out a list of more than 100 US goods worth roughly $50 billion that are subject to retaliatory tariffs.
    • May 21: After a meeting, the two countries announce the outline of a trade deal to avoid the tariffs.
    • May 29: The White House announces that the tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods will move forward, with the final list of goods released June 15. The move appears to wreck the nascent trade deal.
    • June 15: Trump rolls out the final list of goods subject to new tariffs. Chinese imports worth $34 billion would be subject to the new 25% tariff as of July 6, with another $16 billion worth of imports subject to the tariff at a later date. China retaliates with an equivalent set of tariffs.
    • June 18: Trump threatens a 10% tariff on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
    • July 6: The first tranche of tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods takes effect; China responds in kind.
    • July 10: The US releases an initial list of an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that could be subject to a 10% tariff.
    • August 1: Washington more than doubles the value of its tariff threats against Beijing, announcing plans to increase the size of proposed duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% from 10%.
    • August 3: China says it will impose tariffs of various rates on another $60 billion worth of US goods if Trump moves forward with his latest threat.
    • August 7: The US announces that the second tranche of tariffs, which will hit $16 billion worth of Chinese goods, will go into effect on August 23.
    • August 23: The US imposes tariffs on another $16 billion worth of Chinese goods, and Beijing responds with tariffs on $16 billion worth of US goods.
    • September 7: Trump says the tranche of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods is coming "soon" and threatens to impose tariffs on another $267 billion worth of Chinese goods.

    SEE ALSO: Trump's trade war with China is still raging — here are the states that could end up getting whacked

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  • John Bolton's crusade against the International Criminal Court is so hard-line it threatens a US invasion of Holland>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 6:43 PM:)
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    John Bolton

    • United States National Security Advisor John Bolton has wanted to see the ICC die on its own for years.
    • Now, Bolton can ensure that happens — even if it means an armed invasion of the Netherlands.  
    • Under the US' 'Hague Invasion Act' the government can "take all means necessary" to release US personnel being held by the ICC.

    United States National Security Advisor John Bolton's disdain for the International Criminal Court predates his statement last Monday that the court is, "ineffective, unaccountable, and indeed outright dangerous."

    In his speech, Bolton claimed that the court was "already dead to us," and said that the US will use "any means necessary" to protect Americans in response to the court's first-ever public investigation into alleged US war crimes. Last Novemeber, the Court's requested to launch an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by US service members and CIA operatives in Afghanistan and the war on terror, especially in secret prisons.

    While Bolton has wanted to see the "illegitimate" ICC die on its own for years, he is now uniquely situated to ensure that happens — even if it means an armed invasion of the Hague.  

    The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague March 3, 2011. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen In response to the formal establishment of the ICC in 2002, the Bush administration passed into law the American Servicemembers Protection Act of 2002, commonly referred to as the 'Hague Invasion Act' by its opposition. Its eerie nickname stems from its vague wording, which allows the US to "take all means necessary and appropriate" to release US personnel being held by the International Criminal Court.

    Bolton's exact use of the law's ambiguous wording implies he is willing to operate under the wide freedom the law provides. In other words, the US will shield its service members from imprisonment even if it means dropping in a Navy SEAL team to jailbreak them.  

    The International Criminal Court was established to prosecute crimes like genocide and crimes against humanity in countries and conflicts where the rule of law had broken down. 

    The US' relationship with the Court has been strained at best. In 2000, then President Bill Clinton signed the Rome Statute, the Court's founding document, but did not send it to the US Senate for approval. In accordance with a bipartisan opposition to joining the ICC, President George W. Bush passed the 'Hague Invasion Act.'

    Bush then sent John Bolton, who was a State Department official at the time, around the world to in a multi-pronged attack on the Court. Bolton began by 'unsigning' the Rome Statute.

    john boltonBolton then embarked on a trip around the world to every government that had signed the Rome Statute and convinced a majority of them to sign Bilateral Immunity Agreements. These agreements shield US service members from prosecution by the ICC in the signatory country. For example, if Ecuador signed a BIA with the US, and a US service member committed a crime against humanity in Ecuador, the ICC could not prosecute that member. 

    Only in reality, Ecuador did not sign a BIA. Ecuador, like many other countries in Latin America and Africa, refused to sign. In retaliation, the US cut millions of dollars in military aid to countries that refused to offer the US protection from the Court.

    Many of the countries who lost funding were actually US allies in the War on Terror, causing then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to say the policy was "sort of the same as shooting ourselves in the foot."

    The reality of an invasion remains improbable with many officials in the Netherlands regarding the thought of an invasion by the US as only a joke. One Dutch Ministry of Justice official viewed the 'Hague Invasion Act' as a "bizarre symbol."

    The 'Hague Invasion Act' as a symbolic gesture of American exceptionalism is further supported by the ICC's complementarity principle. Under this legal principle, any ICC investigation of US service members would be nullified if the US launched its own investigation of the same alleged crimes. This is because the ICC was designed to go after crimes that a state is unable or unwilling to prosecute. 

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  • Trump's top economic adviser says announcements on more Chinese tariffs are 'coming soon'>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 6:36 PM:)
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    kudlow

    • White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Monday announcements on Chinese tariffs would likely be "coming soon."
    • The US and China had been considering holding high-level trade talks next week.
    • China said it would pull out of those talks and retaliate if the Trump administration imposes additional tariffs.

    Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Monday that announcements regarding another round of tariffs on Chinese imports would likely be "coming soon," raising concerns for a major escalation in a trade battle between the world's two largest economies. 

    Speaking at the Economic Club of New York, Kudlow said President Donald Trump has not been "satisfied" with trade negotiations between the US and China.

    "I think the basic stories are more or less correct," Kudlow said. The Wall Street Journal reported hours earlier that the Trump administration could follow through with a 10% tariff on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese products as soon as Monday.

    That would bring the total trade value of affected products to $250 billion, roughly half of what the US imported from China in 2017. Trump had originally suggested a tariff rate of 25% on the next round of Chinese goods. 

    Kudlow added that the administration is "ready to negotiate and talk with China anytime that they are ready for serious and substantive negotiations." Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was leading efforts to restart talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Hu next week, but Beijing has said it would cancel those negotiations if the Trump administration enacts another round of duties. 

    China was swift to respond to the first $50 billion worth of Trump’s tariffs in kind and has vowed to push back against further escalations.While China does not import enough products from the US to match the latest round of duties dollar-for-dollar, it could use other punitive measures to retaliate.

    Those could include increasing tariff rates or creating administrative hardships for American companies. Former Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said Sunday that Beijing could also restrict exports of goods key to US supply chains, Reuters reports.

    When asked why the stock market has not reacted more to escalating trade tensions, Kudlow said tariffs could be a "force for good" in the long run.

    But risks of a full-blown trade war between the US and China have kept businesses and consumers on edge in recent months. More than 350 representatives from businesses and companies testified before US Trade Representative officials in Washington in August, most of them warning further taxes on Chinese imports would force them to raise prices and cut jobs. 

    Trump said last week another $267 billion worth of imports could be targeted soon after, effectively subjecting every Chinese product that enters the US to an import duty.

    SEE ALSO: Trump doubles down on trade war with China and warns: 'If countries will not make fair deals with us, they will be "Tariffed!"'

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  • New polls show Democrats are on the verge of flipping 2 key Senate seats>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 5:54 PM:)
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    Voters fill in their ballots as they vote in the U.S. midterm elections at a polling place in Westminster, Colorado November 4, 2014.

    • New polls from CNN show Democratic Senate candidates leading their Republican opponents in two of the four key states with seats up for grabs in November's midterm elections.
    • Democrats' current leads among likely voters in Arizona and Tennessee Senate races are encouraging the party's hopes for a "blue wave" in Congress. 

    New polls from CNN show Democratic Senate candidates leading their opponents in two of four races for Republican-held seats that could flip in November's midterm elections.

    In Arizona and Tennessee, where Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are retiring, Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen lead with likely voters by 7 and 5 points, respectively. Sinema led Rep. Martha McSally 50% to 43% and Bredesen held a 50% to 45% lead over Rep. Marsha Blackburn. 

    CNN reported approximately one in six voters in each state say they might change their vote before Election Day.

    Additionally, voters in both states not only put healthcare as their most important issue — at 29% in Tennessee and 25% in Arizona, but also favored Democrats to handle healthcare policy.

    • In Tennessee, the economy came next with 22% of voters, while 16% of responses put immigration at third.
    • In Arizona, immigration was the second-most critical issue with 22% of voters, while 20% chose the economy.
    • Voters in both states concerned with these issues favored the Republican candidate.

    Other states with a chance for Democrats to pick up Senate seats are Texas, where Sen. Ted Cruz is facing an unexpectedly tough challenge, and Nevada, a closely watched swing state that backed Hillary Clinton in 2016 and where President Donald Trump headlined a fundraiser for a Republican senator.

    Several recent polls found significant leads for Democrats in congressional races and widespread disapproval of Congress as a whole, possibly indicating a "blue wave" in the midterms this fall if the divisions hold.

    SEE ALSO: Michael Bloomberg suggests doubts about #MeToo movement and allegations against Charlie Rose

    DON'T MISS: New polling shows disastrous warning signs for Republicans ahead of the midterm elections

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  • Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation chances are starting to unravel>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 5:34 PM:)
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    WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 06: Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill September 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the court left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    • The Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has come under fire for an allegation of sexual assault against him as a teenager.
    • The burgeoning scandal has prompted Democrats and even several Republicans to call for additional hearings, which would delay any confirmation vote.
    • Kavanaugh has emphatically denied the allegation.

    WASHINGTON — Days after it surfaced that Judge Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl while he was in high school, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee is in limbo as lawmakers contemplate additional hearings and delaying procedural hurdles and votes necessary to advance the confirmation process.

    When Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, a 51-year-old research psychologist, came forward over the weekend, it sent the Senate committee tasked with vetting Kavanaugh's nomination into a tailspin. Ford, who identified herself to The Washington Post in an article published Sunday, says that at a party in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her while his friend watched.

    All 10 of the Judiciary Committee's Democrats signed a letter to its Republican chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, asking to delay the Thursday vote on whether to shepherd Kavanaugh out of the committee. Later Monday morning, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of the few Republicans undecided on whether to confirm Kavanaugh, called for both Kavanaugh and Ford to testify under oath before the committee.

    Those moves, coupled with calls for delaying the vote by retiring GOP Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, mean that what Republicans thought would be a swift confirmation is now hanging by a thread.

    Grassley said in a statement Monday afternoon that he was attempting to work with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, to establish follow-up calls, but that Feinstein's office was refusing to comply.

    "The standard procedure for updates to any nominee's background investigation file is to conduct separate follow-up calls with relevant parties," Grassley said. "In this case, that would entail phone calls with at least Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford. Consistent with that practice, I asked Senator Feinstein's office yesterday to join me in scheduling these follow-ups. Thus far, they have refused. But as a necessary step in evaluating these claims, I'll continue working to set them up."

    Grassley also chastised Democrats, saying Republicans were kept in the dark about a letter Ford sent to Feinstein via Rep. Anna Eshoo of California earlier this summer detailing her allegation.

    "Unfortunately, committee Republicans have only known this person's identity from news reports for less than 24 hours and known about her allegations for less than a week," Grassley added. "Senator Feinstein, on the other hand, has had this information for many weeks and deprived her colleagues of the information necessary to do our jobs. The Minority withheld even the anonymous allegations for six weeks, only to later decide that they were serious enough to investigate on the eve of the committee vote, after the vetting process had been completed."

    The more Republicans start to call for a delayed vote, the more likely it is to happen, as the GOP's Senate majority is slim.

    Republicans are also concerned about what action the White House might take. There is an expectation among GOP aides that Trump will go after Ford for accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault. If Trump were to do so, it could make things even more difficult for Republicans.

    The White House is sticking by Kavanaugh

    Regardless, the White House is standing by Kavanaugh, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

    "We want to go through a full process ... and hear everybody out," Trump told reporters on Monday, describing Kavanaugh as "one of the great intellects and one of the finest people."

    Asked whether Kavanaugh had offered to withdraw, Trump replied, "What a ridiculous question."

    "This is a completely false allegation," Kavanaugh said in a statement Monday morning. "I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone."

    Kavanaugh also said he would be willing to cooperate with the Judiciary Committee on any additional material or testimony it might want from him.

    "Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday," he added. "I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity."

    On Monday, CNN reported that Kavanaugh had hired Beth Wilkinson, an attorney from Wilkinson Walsh Eskovitz, a prominent firm in Washington, DC. Ford is being represented by Debra Katz, who has specialized in sexual-misconduct cases.

    Meanwhile, conservative activist groups are rallying around Kavanaugh's defense. The Judicial Crisis Network announced on Monday that it would launch a $1.5 million ad campaign to combat what it called attacks on Kavanaugh's character.

    SEE ALSO: Here's an evolving count of which senators are voting for Trump's Supreme Court pick

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  • The US Air Force plans a massive expansion to take on Russia and China>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 5:30 PM:)
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    air force

    • The US Air Force set out to return to Cold War numbers by growing nearly 25% and taking on hundreds more planes to form an additional 74 squadrons, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced Monday.
    • The US military is in the middle of a giant pivot towards confronting Russia and China, near-peer military powers that must be countered with big, advanced forces.
    • Part of that means growing the Air Force and Navy massively while innovating new platforms.
    • The military seems clear on the need for more numbers and power, but it's not clear where the money is yet. 

    The US Air Force set out to return to Cold War numbers by growing nearly 25% and taking on hundreds more planes to form an additional 74 squadrons, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced on Monday.

    The US Air Force, which typically acquires aircraft only after long vetting and bidding processes, will attempt the radical change in short order to fulfill President Donald Trump's vision of a bigger military to take on Russia and China.

    In the US's new National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and Nuclear Posture Review, the Trump administration redefined the US's foremost enemies not as rogue groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda, but China and Russia.

    While the US has fought counter insurgencies against small terror groups and non-state actors nonstop since September 11, 2001, the resurgence of an aggressive Russia now at war in Ukraine and Syria, and the emergence of China now unilaterally attempting to dominate the South China Sea, has renewed the US military's focus on winning massive wars.

    The US Navy has announced similar plans to grow its fleet size by nearly a third and shift tactics to better challenge Russia and China.

    But now the Air Force plans to grow in all directions at once, with more space, cyberwarfare, logistical support, drones, tankers, and combat aviation all at once.

    What the Air Force wants

    us air force 386 squadrons

    This chart shows how many new squadrons the Air Force wants and how they'll be distributed. The Air Force announced a goal of 386 squadrons, up from 312. Depending on the airframe, a squadron can have 8-24 planes.

    For the bomber squadrons, which include nuclear capable bombers like the B-52 and B-2, that number will grow only slightly and likely include the mysterious new B-21 Raider bomber, which no one has ever seen outside classified circles. 

    In the fighter jet department, it's likely F-35s will comprise most of this growth. Aerial tankers and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, likely drones, will also see a big bump.

    The Air Force hopes to build the force up to 386 squadrons by 2030, but has not provided any information on how it plans to fund the venture. The US Air Force has requested $156 billion for next fiscal year, already a six percent bump over the previous year. While Wilson promised to streamline acquisition, which famously can take years and cost billions, there's real doubts about how fast the organization can move. The US Air Force started working on the F-22 in 1981. It first flew in 1997 and first went into combat in 2014. The F-35 started in 2001 and just last year experienced its first combat in Israel's service.

    Additionally, the move would require the Air Force to bring on about 40,000 new people at a time when the force has a near crippling problem with retaining top talent

    "We are not naive about the budget realities," Wilson said at the Air Force's annual Air, Space & Cyber Conference. “At the same time, we think we owe our countrymen an honest answer on what is required to protect the vital, national interests of this country under the strategy we have been given, and so we believe this is, if not the perfect answer, it is an honest answer to that question: What is the Air Force we need?"

    Growing China threat

    J-20

    Currently, China's military is in the midst of building up a tremendous air force and navy while also threatening some of the US's core interests and most promising technologies. 

    The biggest US Air Force defense projects involve stealth aircraft, like the B-21 and F-35. As of yet unpublished research on China's military reviewed by Business Insider found Chinese fighter aircraft now number around 1,610 compared to about 1,960 US fighters. 

    China has made strides towards quantum radars designed to negate the US stealth advantage as well as a stealth fighter of its own, the J-20. 

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  • Michael Bloomberg suggests doubts about #MeToo movement and allegations against Charlie Rose>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 3:45 PM:)
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    Mike Bloomberg

    • Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor, expressed doubts about the #MeToo movement that could put him at odds with the Democratic Party.
    • The media mogul used disgraced TV anchor Charlie Rose as an example and questioned whether allegations of sexual coercion and harassment against him are true. 
    • Irin Carmon, a reporter who led two investigations into Rose's conduct, told Business Insider that Bloomberg was wrong to second-guess the dozens of allegations against Rose.
    • Bloomberg says he's considering a run for president as a centrist Democrat in 2020.

    Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor, suggested doubts in a recent interview about the #MeToo movement, citing disgraced former TV news anchor Charlie Rose's ousting from the media industry following harassment allegations against him. 

    "The stuff I read about is disgraceful — I don't know how true all of it is," Bloomberg said in an interview with The New York Times of allegations that have arisen as part of the movement against sexual misconduct. 

    Bloomberg, who is exploring a 2020 presidential run as a centrist Democrat, brought up Rose's case unprompted, suggesting that he doubted the veracity of the allegations that Rose made crude and unwanted sexual advances on numerous women, many of them colleagues and subordinates, over the course of many years. 

    Rose, who was fired from CBS News and PBS after several women came forward with their allegations last fall,  broadcast his nightly program — "Charlie Rose" — from Bloomberg's company studios for years. Bloomberg also stopped re-broadcasting Rose's interview-based show after the allegations surfaced. 

    "We never had a complaint, whatsoever, and when I read some of the stuff, I was surprised, I will say. But I never saw anything and we have no record, we've checked very carefully," he said of the allegations against the 76-year-old journalist, which included that he groped women and exposed himself to them. 

    Rose apologized in a statement to The Washington Post after the paper's initial story exposing the misconduct allegations last November, acknowledging that he had "behaved insensitively at times."

    "I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior. I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate," he said. "I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken."

    Bloomberg argued that the public should "let the court system decide" whether someone charged with sexual misconduct is guilty or innocent, despite conceding that most cases will never get their day in court. 

    "You know, is it true?" said Bloomberg, whose position on the #MeToo movement would undoubtedly anger many in the Democratic party. "You look at people that say it is, but we have a system where you have — presumption of innocence is the basis of it."

    Irin Carmon, one of the reporters who led two Post investigations into Rose's conduct, suggested that Bloomberg was wrong to second-guess the dozens of allegations against Rose — many of which were corroborated by sources with contemporaneous accounts of the incidents. She added that while many alleged incidents occurred too long ago to be tried in court, three of Rose's accusers have sued him. 

    "Since Mr. Bloomberg owns a news organization, he probably already knows that the stories were extensively reported," Carmon told Business Insider in an email, adding, "As for the courts, three of the women we spoke to are in fact now suing Charlie Rose and CBS, but many more have allegations that fall well outside the statutes of limitation."

    SEE ALSO: Michael Bloomberg is weighing a 2020 run as a centrist Democrat

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  • Brett Kavanaugh became the Supreme Court's most pivotal nomination in decades but is now embroiled in sexual assault allegations. Here's how the career of 'the Forrest Gump of Republican politics' unfolded.>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 3:33 PM:)
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    brett kavanaugh

    • President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the US Supreme Court.
    • Kavanaugh was born and bred in the Washington, DC area and has a long history in conservative circles.
    • His journey to the US Supreme Court has been so star-studded, one senator once called him the "Forrest Gump" of Republican politics.
    • Kavanaugh's nomination seemed like a sure thing, until a woman came forward on September 16 to publicly accuse him of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school. He has denied the allegations.

    President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh, 53, to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the US Supreme Court.

    "There is no one in America more qualified for this position, and no one more deserving," Trump said at the announcement in July, joining the many Republicans who praised the Ivy League-educated veteran of George W. Bush's administration.

    But Kavanaugh has a tough confirmation process ahead of him. Republicans' 51-49 hold on the Senate puts Kavanaugh in a precarious spot.

    He has so far had to weather stiff resistance from Democratic lawmakers, scores of protesters who disagree with his views on issues including gun and abortion rights, and now a sexual assault allegation.

    Christine Blasey Ford, 51, is accusing a teenaged Kavanaugh of forcing himself on her at a high school party in the early 1980s. Kavanaugh flatly denied the "false allegation" and said he would testify against it.

    Top Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin once called Kavanaugh the "Forrest Gump of Republican politics", because he was present for so many key moments in modern political history.

    As Kavanaugh continues his confirmation process, here's a look at how the Washington, DC born-and-bred conservative rose to become the court's most pivotal nomination in decades:

    SEE ALSO: Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court

    DON'T MISS: Trump's Supreme Court pick has expressed doubts about investigating or prosecuting a sitting president

    Brett Kavanaugh was born Feb. 12, 1965, in Washington, DC.

    Source: NPR



    He attended Georgetown Preparatory School, an all-boys school in Rockville, Maryland. He was staff for the school newspaper, played on the school's varsity football team, and was captain of the basketball team.

    Source: Washingtonian



    Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, also attended Georgetown Prep and graduated two years before Kavanaugh.

    Sources: Washingtonian, Business Insider



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider> <>
  • Kavanaugh says he's willing to testify on 'completely false' sexual assault allegation>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 2:43 PM:)
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    WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 6: Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill September 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the court left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

    • Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Monday said an allegation he sexually assaulted a woman when they were in high school is "completely false."
    • Kavanaugh also said he'd be willing to testify on the accusation in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 
    • The allegation against Kavanaugh began to surface last week but the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, did not identify herself until Sunday. 
    • Ford has also signaled she's willing to testify before Congress. 

    Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Monday said an allegation he sexually assaulted a woman when they were in high school is "completely false" and said he'd be willing to testify on the accusation to the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

    "This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone," Kavanaugh said in a statement. 

    Kavanaugh further said that "because this never happened" he had no idea who the accuser was until she identified herself over the weekend. 

    "I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity," Kavanaugh added.

    Kavanaugh was at the White House Monday morning amid the burgeoning controversy.

    His accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, identified herself over the weekend. Ford, 51, claims Kavanaugh attempted to force himself onto her during a party in high school, at times covering her mouth so she couldn't scream. 

    "I thought he might inadvertently kill me," Ford, a clinical psychology professor in California, told The Washington Post. "He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing."

    Ford said she originally hoped to remain unidentified over concerns she'd be attacked, but as details surrounding her allegations began to emerge Ford said she felt she should come forward. 

    "I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation," Ford told The Post. 

    Debra Katz, Ford's attorney, on Monday said her client would be willing to testify on her allegation against Kavanaugh in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

    Would your client be willing to testify under oath?

    "My client will do whatever is necessary to make sure that the Senate Judiciary Committee has the full story...to allow them to make a full informed decision," says Debra Katz pic.twitter.com/z2q8JPCQmL

    — CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) September 17, 2018

    Katz said Ford will do "whatever is necessary" to get the "full story" out there and ensure an "informed decision" is made regarding Kavanaugh's nomination for the highest court in the land. 

    SEE ALSO: 'Dems and their usual nonsense': Donald Trump Jr. mocks Kavanaugh accuser in Instagram post

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  • Japan is staring China down with its first submarine drills in the contested South China Sea>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 2:42 PM:)
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    A Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) submarine Wakashio surfaces off the water during a fleet review off Sagami Bay, south of Tokyo, Japan, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012.

    • Japan recently sent a submarine to the South China Sea for military exercises for the first time, the Japanese defense ministry revealed Monday.
    • The attack sub Kuroshio participated in drills alongside three Japanese destroyers, including the Kaga helicopter carrier.
    • The move appears to have angered China, which warned Japan to "act with caution" and avoid damaging regional peace and stability.

    A Japanese submarine recently joined up with three destroyers for drills in the disputed South China Sea, marking the first reported deployment of Japanese undersea warfighting assets to the contested region for exercises, Japan's defense ministry revealed Monday.

    The Oyashio-class attack submarine Kuroshio participated in exercises with several other Japanese warships, including the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's Kaga helicopter carrier, last Thursday. The Kaga, which is accompanied by various escort ships and on a two-month tour of Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, recently drilled alongside the US Navy in the South China Sea. The Japanese sub practiced hunting enemy submarines in the exercise.

    In response to the drills, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang asserted that Beijing "urges the relevant external country to respect the efforts made by regional countries to resolve the South China Sea issue through talks."

    "Act with caution and don’t take any acts that could damage peace and stability in the region," he warned, according to Reuters.

    Experts perceive Japan's efforts as an attempt to preserve the balance of power in the region as China's military power grows. "It’s part of a strategic message that Japan would like to send to China and the countries in the region," Narushige Michishita, an international security studies expert and a professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, told The Wall Street Journal.

    Given China's interest in enhancing its undersea warfare capabilities, the deployment of strategic underwater assets to the region is considered "very significant."

    After the completion of the exercises, the Kuroshio visited Vietnam, an unprecedented visit demonstrating Japan's support for one of the South China Sea claimant states at odds with China. Japan does not claim territory in the South China Sea, but it is involved in a rather tense territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

    China claims the vast majority of the South China Sea, and has clashed with both other claimant states and foreign ships and planes operating in the area.

    The UK Royal Navy amphibious assault ship HMS Albion recently found itself in a showdown with the Chinese military — a frigate and two Chinese helicopters — in the South China Sea after it sailed close to Chinese-occupied territories in the Paracel Islands.

    The Chinese military has also issued radio warnings to US Navy ships and aircraft, as well as Philippine military aircraft that fly near Chinese-held territory. Neither the US nor the Philippines have allowed these warnings to impact their operations.

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  • The Trump-hating CEO of Victoria's Secret is quitting the Republican party after donating millions of dollars>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 2:30 PM:)
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    Les Wexner

    • Billionaire businessman and longtime political donor Les Wexner announced that he is quitting the Republican party during a panel discussion in Columbus on Thursday
    • Wexner is the CEO of Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works.
    • He has been outspoken about President Trump. In January, he posted a public video online, criticising the president's comments on immigration.

    Billionaire businessman and longtime political donor Les Wexner is quitting the Republican party, saying he's had enough of the "nonsense."

    "I just decided I’m no longer a Republican," Wexner said during a panel discussion with local business leaders in Ohio on Thursday evening, the same day that Obama visited Columbus, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

    "I’m an independent. I won’t support this nonsense in the Republican Party," he said. "If you don’t think things are right, open your mouth."

    Wexner and his wife Abigail have donated millions of dollars to groups that support Republican candidates over the years. In 2015, Wexner wrote a $500,000 check to a group that supported the campaign of Jeb Bush. 

    However, in recent years, his political beliefs seem to have shifted as he has become increasingly outspoken about Trump.

    In January, he posted a public video online, criticising Trump's comments on immigration after the President referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as "shithole countries" in a White House meeting. "This is not acceptable," Wexner said in the video.

    This was the second time he had spoken out against the President. In August 2017, he criticised Trump's response to a woman being killed by a white supremacist during a racially-charged rally in Charlottesville.

    "Hearing the remarks of yesterday, I repeat that this is not acceptable," he said in the video. 

    Wexner also commented on his encounter with Obama:

    "I was struck by the genuineness of the man; his candor, humility and empathy for others," he said during the panel on Thursday.

    SEE ALSO: The CEO behind Victoria's Secret is slamming Trump while ignoring a huge flaw in his own business

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  • 'Dems and their usual nonsense': Donald Trump Jr. mocks Kavanaugh accuser in Instagram post>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 2:26 PM:)
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    Donald Trump Jr

    • Donald Trump Jr. posted an image on Instagram on Sunday that mocked a woman who alleges Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers. 
    • The image shows a piece of paper with words scribbled in crayon as a child would write to a crush in elementary school.
    • Christine Blasey Ford alleges Kavanaugh drunkenly attempted to force himself onto her at a high school party.

    Donald Trump Jr. posted an image on Instagram on Sunday that mocked a woman who alleges Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers. 

    The image shows a piece of paper with words scribbled in crayon as a child would write to a crush in elementary school. It says, "Hi Cindy, will you be my girlfriend," and includes "yes" and "no" boxes. The paper says "Love Bret" at the bottom. 

    The president's son posted the image with the caption: "Oh boy... the Dems and their usual nonsense games really have [Kavanaugh] on the ropes now."

    He added that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, "had the letter in July and saved it for the eve of his vote ... honorable as always. I believe this is a copy for full transparency."

    Christine Blasey Ford alleges Kavanaugh drunkenly attempted to force himself onto her at a high school party, at times covering her mouth with his hand as she attempted to scream. Ford says she was eventually able to get herself free and hid in the bathroom before leaving the party. 

    "I thought he might inadvertently kill me," Ford told The Washington Post. "He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing."

    Reports of mysterious allegations against Kavanaugh circulated last week, but Ford's identity was initially kept secret. 

    Last Wednesday, The Intercept reported that Feinstein possessed a letter describing an incident between Kavanaugh and a woman while they were in high school and claimed Feinstein was refusing to share it with her fellow Democrats. 

    Feinstein on Thursday revealed she'd sent a letter detailing the allegations to the FBI, but the contents were not made public. At the time, Feinstein noted the accuser had "requested confidentiality."

    But details of the letter leaked and Ford over the weekend identified herself as the accuser in The Washington Post. Ford said she'd originally hoped to remain unidentified, citing concerns about being discredited and criticized by Republicans and certain segments of the public. 

    "I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation," Ford, a clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University, told The Post. 

    Debra Katz, the lawyer representing Ford, said Monday her client is willing to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Kavanaugh has vehemently denied Ford's claims.

    "I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time," he said in a statement. 

    SEE ALSO: New details are emerging about a woman's allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in a secret letter

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  • Michael Bloomberg is weighing a 2020 run as a centrist Democrat>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 2:02 PM:)
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    bloomberg

    • Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor, is exploring a run for the presidency in 2020. 
    • The media mogul — a former Republican — would run as a centrist Democrat. 
    • Despite his allegiance to the Democratic Party, Bloomberg has clear differences with mainstream and liberal Democrats on issues including policing, Wall Street regulation, and the #MeToo movement. 

    Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor, is considering a run for the presidency in 2020 — as a centrist Democrat, The New York Times reported Monday

    The media mogul, who was elected mayor as a Republican and independent, is spending $80 million on this year's midterm elections, largely supporting Democrats running for the House in a bid to flip the chamber. And he's denounced the GOP in no uncertain terms — expressing particular disagreement with his former party on issues he's championed, including gun control and environmental protection. 

    "It's impossible to conceive that I could run as a Republican — things like choice, so many of the issues, I'm just way away from where the Republican Party is today," Bloomberg told the Times. "That's not to say I’m with the Democratic Party on everything, but I don't see how you could possibly run as a Republican. So if you ran, yeah, you’d have to run as a Democrat."

    Despite his allegiance to the Democratic Party, Bloomberg has clear differences with mainstream and liberal Democrats on issues including policing, Wall Street regulation, and the #MeToo movement. His candidacy would surely be anathema to the progressive left. 

    In an interview with the Times, he defended New York's former stop-and-frisk policy, insisting that the practice — which in 2013 was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge for the policy's racially discriminatory effect — had avoided violating individuals' civil rights while helping lower the city's crime rate. Bloomberg also questioned whether the movement to hold accountable perpetrators of sexual misconduct has gone too far. And he's broken with progressive Democrats like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren on her stance on bank regulation. 

    But Bloomberg has received an enthusiastic welcome into the Democratic fold over the last few years, winning praise from House minority leader Nancy Pelosi. 

    "His name is synonymous with excellence," Pelosi said at a dinner San Francisco recently. "And he knows how to get the job done."

    SEE ALSO: New polling shows disastrous warning signs for Republicans ahead of the midterm elections

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  • I'm on the ground for Tropical Storm Florence, which has caused catastrophic flooding and damage. Here's what I'm seeing.>
    (Politics - September 17 2018 - 2:01 PM:)
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    Tropical Storm Florence North Carolina

    WILMINGTON, North Carolina — We've been on the coast of North Carolina since last Wednesday night, about a day before Tropical Storm Florence crashed into the coast of the Carolinas.

    The storm has since killed at least 15 people and caused catastrophic flooding and damage — and the harrowing situation is still not over.

    Although hamstrung by closed and flooded roads, we've seen as much as we could, driving around cities and towns such as Wilmington, Jacksonville, and Richlands, among others.

    And the flooding and damage are certainly as bad as the reports have said and shown.

    Here's some of what we've seen.

    More hurricane coverage from Business Insider:

    Floods from Hurricane Florence are so intense they've totally cut off the city where it made landfall

    Companies are being accused of price gouging on food, water, and gas during Hurricane Florence

    A car is stuck on a heavily flooded road near Richlands, North Carolina.



    Mr. Walters, 56, anxiously stands outside of his house in Richlands, North Carolina, where the flooded creek in his backyard had created a moat around his home.

    Walters said there was still about six feet to go before the waters reached his house, but he was going to hold out for as long as he could because it would be difficult to move his son, who is disabled. He also said he loved his house and proceeded to list all his possessions that he feared he would lose.



    Fallen trees and a damaged brick wall in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider> <>

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