European Union Sets Up Payment System with Iran to Maintain Trade
The five remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal have agreed to establish a special payment system to allow companies to continue doing business with the regime, bypassing new sanctions imposed by the United States.
Envoys from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran issued a statement late Monday from the United Nations announcing the creation of a “Special Purpose Vehicle” that will be established in the European Union. The parties said the new mechanism was created to facilitate payments related to Iranian exports, including oil.
Federica Mogherini, EU’s foreign policy chief, told reporters after the deal was announced that the SPV gives EU member states “a legal entity to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran…and allow European companies to continue to trade with Iran in accordance to European Union law and could be open to other partners in the world.”
Mogherini said the financial agreement is also aimed at preserving the agreement reached in 2015 with Iran to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for relief from strict economic sanctions. The deal was reached under then-President Barack Obama, but Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, pulled out of the accord in May of this year, saying it didn’t address Tehran’s ballistic missile program or its influence in the Middle East.
Instagram Co-founders Resign from Social Media Company
The co-founders of Instagram are resigning their positions with the social media company.
Chief Executive Kevin Systrom said in a statement late Monday that he and Mike Krieger plan to leave the company in the next few weeks.
Krieger is chief technical officer. They founded the photo-sharing app in 2010 and sold it to Facebook in 2012 for about $1 billion.
There was no immediate word on why they chose to leave the company but Systrom says they plan to take time off to explore their creativity again.
Representatives for Instagram and Facebook didn’t immediately respond to after-hours messages from The Associated Press.
Instagram has seen explosive growth since its founding, with an estimated 1 billion monthly users and 2 million advertisers.
Follow the Money, Says New Global Anti-Slavery Effort
The principality of Liechtenstein kicked off a campaign on Monday to enlist the global financial sector to fight modern slavery, flexing its role as a center of world wealth management to tap the clout of banks, hedge funds and investors.
The financially focused effort aims to fight money laundering by traffickers, promote ethical investment and offer opportunities to people vulnerable to slavery, organizers said at the annual meeting of world leaders at the United Nations.
Globally, modern slavery is believed to generate illicit profits of $150 billion a year, according to the International Labor Organization, which estimates more than 40 million people are enslaved around the world.
“Following the money can not only lead us to the perpetrators but also deny them the resources they need to commit such crimes in the first place,” said Aurelia Frick, Liechtenstein’s foreign affairs minister, at launch of the financial sector commission at U.N. headquarters in New York.
Traffickers illegally launder illicit gains, take advantage of informal banking systems and benefit when investors unknowingly back companies that profit from slavery in their supply chains, organizers said.
Meanwhile, a lack of access to credit can make people vulnerable to forced labor and trafficking, they said.
Plans call for commission members – institutional investors, global pension funds, investment banks, financial regulators and others – to design an anti-slavery strategy by mid-2019 for the financial sector.
“This commission will make a major contribution to undermining the primary goal of the human traffickers and those who would enslave another human being – the money they make out of human misery,” said Marise Payne, Australia’s minister for foreign affairs.
Coined the Liechtenstein initiative, the commission was launched by the wealthy European principality and by Australia, along with the U.N. University.
Ending modern slavery is among the targets of the 17 global goals adopted by the 193 member nations of the U.N. three years ago to promote such issues as gender equality and sustainable energy and end poverty, inequality and other world woes by 2030.
Separately, Britain announced anti-slavery efforts, including plans with the U.N.’s children’s agency UNICEF to provide some 400,000 children in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan with birth registration and identity documents that could help protect them from forced labor.
“No one nation can banish this borderless crime alone,” Britain’s International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said in a prepared statement.
Also announced was an alliance of Britain, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia to try and eradicate slavery in global supply chains and meet annually to coordinate efforts.
Scientists Voice Opposition to Changes in US Endangered Species Act
Thousands of scientists joined on Monday to accuse the Trump administration of trying to erode the Endangered Species Act in favor of commercial interests with a plan to revamp regulations that have formed a bedrock of U.S. wildlife protection for over 40 years.
The extraordinary critique of the administration’s proposal, which was unveiled in July, came in an open letter addressed to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from three associations representing 9,000 professional biologists.
A separate letter similarly condemning revisions proposed to endangered species policies was signed by 273 leading university scientists from around the country.
Both came as the 60-day public comment period drew to a close for what would be the most sweeping overhaul in decades of the rules implementing the landmark environmental law.
The 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) currently protects more than 1,600 species of U.S. animals and plants listed as either endangered — on the brink of extinction — or threatened — deemed likely to become extinct in the foreseeable future.
The ESA is credited with a number of high-profile success stories, including the comeback of the American bald eagle, the California condor and the grizzly bear.
But the act has long been controversial for requiring the government to designate “critical habitat” deemed essential to a listed species’ survival and limiting commercial activities there, such as construction, mining, energy development or logging.
Developers and other critics argue that such restrictions pose an unfair and overly burdensome intrusion on property rights and economic activity.
Under the administration’s proposal, the government would end the practice of automatically treating endangered species and threatened species essentially the same.
The plan also calls for initially evaluating a species’ critical habitat on the basis of its current range, rather than according to the larger area it could be expected to occupy once recovered.
The administration has argued its proposal would enhance wildlife protection by building greater support for a statute that has become outdated and by streamlining the regulatory process.
Scientists, however, said the planned revisions would undermine the ESA and drive some wildlife closer to extinction.
One proposed change, they said, to allow consideration of economic factors when assessing a species’ status, would violate the law’s requirement that safeguards hinge solely on science.
“This is completely disastrous for efforts to save species from extinction,” said Stuart Pimm, a conservation ecology professor at Duke University.
A spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Brian Hires, said the agency encourages “input on our proposed ESA regulatory changes from all stakeholders as part of a robust and transparent public process.”
In TV Interview, Kavanaugh Denies Sexual Misconduct
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is denying allegations of sexual misconduct and says he will not withdraw his name from consideration for the top court.
Appearing Monday on Fox News for his first television interview on the allegations, Kavanaugh said, “I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. Not in high school. Not ever.”
He said he is not going to let false accusations drive him out of the nomination process. “I’m not going anywhere,” he said.
An emotional Kavanaugh called for a “fair process, where I can defend my integrity and clear my name.”
The Supreme Court nominee is expected to testify Thursday before the Senate Judiciary committee, along with Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who claims Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were both high school teenagers in 1982.
Kavanaugh’s wife, Ashley, who sat alongside her husband during the Monday interview, said the nomination process has been “incredibly difficult” for her family. She said, “At the end of the day, our faith is strong. We know we are on the right path.”
Kavanaugh’s television appearance comes one day after new allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against him.
The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday that two U.S. senators are investigating a charge Kavanaugh exposed himself at a Yale University dormitory party during the 1983-1984 academic year.
Deborah Ramirez described the incident in an interview after being contacted by the magazine. She admitted she had been drinking and has gaps in her memories. But after consulting a lawyer, Ramirez said she felt confident in her recollection.
Speaking in New York on Monday, President Donald Trump labeled the new charges “totally political.”
The new allegations have prompted a key senator to call for “an immediate postponement” of any further proceedings by the committee, which is considering Kavanaugh’s nomination.
California’s Diane Feinstein, the committee’s top Democrat, sent a letter Sunday to Republican committee chairman Chuck Grassley, urging him to refer the new allegations to the FBI in order to ensure “a fair, independent process that will gather all the facts.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed Monday that the chamber will vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination, promising the vote will come “in the near future.”
McConnell, who was visibly angry, accused Democrats of attempting to destroy an honorable jurist on the basis of “decades-old allegations that are unsubstantiated and uncorroborated.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said if Republicans believe in Kavanaugh, then they, too, should want the accusations investigated by the FBI.
“Leader McConnell is afraid of what might come out (about Kavanaugh), what the truth is,” Schumer said.
Kavanaugh, a judicial conservative and Trump’s second Supreme Court pick, was nominated to fill the vacancy created by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.
His confirmation by the Republican-controlled Senate had seemed all but assured until allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced last week.
Capitol Hill correspondent Michael Bowman contributed to this report.
Who Would Oversee Mueller Investigation After Rosenstein?
U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election, is set to meet President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday to discuss his future.
The following explains what happens to oversight of the Mueller probe if Rosenstein is no longer in charge.
What is Rosenstein’s involvement with the Mueller probe?
The deputy attorney general took charge of the investigation into Russian interference in the election because U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had some contact with Russian officials while working on the Trump campaign, recused himself.
After Trump fired Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey in May 2017, Rosenstein appointed former FBI director Mueller to the role of special counsel and tasked him with investigating Russian interference in the election.
Rosenstein supervises Mueller and has signed off on his decisions to bring criminal charges against individuals associated with Trump’s presidential campaign. The probe has so far resulted in more than 30 indictments and six guilty pleas.
Who would succeed Rosenstein in overseeing the Mueller probe?
If Rosenstein left his job, the task of overseeing Mueller’s investigation would typically fall to the associate attorney general, the No. 3 official at the Department of Justice behind Sessions and Rosenstein.
The current holder of that position, Jesse Panuccio, does so in an acting capacity and has not been confirmed by the Senate.
That means under Justice Department rules he would not be able to succeed Rosenstein in taking charge of the special counsel probe.
Instead, it would fall to U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, according to an internal Justice Department memo on succession from November 2016 that is still in effect.
Some legal experts have said Francisco would have to recuse himself because his former law firm, Jones Day, represented the Trump campaign. If that were to happen, the next in line to oversee the special counsel would be Steven Engel, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.
Could Trump pick a replacement for Rosenstein?
President Trump could potentially bypass the Justice Department’s succession order by invoking the Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (VRA), which lays out general rules for temporarily filling vacant executive branch positions when the prior holder “dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform” their duties.
If Rosenstein resigned, the VRA would allow the president to replace him on an interim basis with another official who has already been confirmed by the Senate. That person could be from any part of the executive branch, not necessarily the Justice Department.
Some legal experts argue that such a replacement would not be able to oversee the Mueller probe because Rosenstein is doing so as acting attorney general. A Justice Department guideline holds that an official cannot be both acting attorney general and acting deputy attorney general, but experts differ on whether that rule would have to be followed.
It is also not clear whether the law, intended to address vacancies created by deaths or resignations, would apply if such a vacancy were created by an official being fired by the president. Such an appointment could be challenged in court on that ground.
Why the ‘Gig’ Economy May Not be the Workforce of the Future
The “gig” economy might not be the new frontier for America’s workforce after all.
From Uber to TaskRabbit to YourMechanic, so-called gig work has been widely seen as ideal for people who want the flexibility and independence that traditional jobs don’t offer. Yet the evidence is growing that over time, they don’t deliver the financial returns many expect.
And they don’t appear to be reshaping the workforce. Over the past two years, for example, pay for gig workers has dropped, and they are earning a growing share of their income elsewhere, a new study finds. Most Americans who earn income through online platforms do so for only a few months each year, according to the study by the JPMorgan Chase Institute being released Monday.
One reason is that some people who experimented with gig work have likely landed traditional jobs as the economy has improved. Drivers for Uber, Lyft and other transportation services, for example, now collectively earn only about half as much each month as they did five years ago.
The new data echo other evidence that such online platforms, despite deploying cutting-edge real-time technology, now look less like the future of work. A government report in July concluded that the proportion of independent workers has actually declined slightly in the past decade.
“People aren’t relying on platforms for their primary source of income,” said Fiona Grieg, director of consumer research for the institute and co-author of the study.
The data is derived from a sample of 39 million JPMorgan checking accounts studied over 5½ years. In March 2018, about 1.6 percent of families participated in the gig economy, equivalent to about 2 million households. That is barely up from the 1.5 percent of a year earlier.
Most participants cycle in and out of gig work to supplement their incomes from other jobs. Previous research by JPMorgan has found that in any given month, one in six workers on online platforms are new — and more than half will have left the gig economy after a year of entering it.
For drivers, 58 percent work just three months or less each year through online economy websites. These include ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft as well as delivery drivers and movers who find work through online apps. Amazon, for example, now uses independent drivers to deliver some packages. Fewer than one-quarter of drivers performed gig work for seven months or more, the study found.
The study also reviewed online platforms that provide home improvement work. These include TaskRabbit as well as dog-walking, home cleaning and other services. Two-thirds of those workers perform gig work for only three months a year or less.
Low pay likely helps explain the frequent turnover of workers who use the gig platforms. For transportation workers, who mostly include Uber and Lyft but also package delivery services, average monthly incomes have fallen from $1,535 in October 2012 to just $762 in March of this year, not adjusted for inflation, the study found.
That drop may at least partly reflect the fact that many drivers are likely working fewer hours, Grieg said. As the number of independent drivers has ballooned over the past five years, drivers have faced intensifying competition. And many have likely found other sources of income as the job market has strengthened. Still, some platforms may be paying their workers less, Grieg said.
How much Uber drivers make on an hourly basis is a hotly debated subject. A 2015 analysis by Princeton University economist Alan Kruger found that drivers in 20 large markets earned $19.04 an hour. But those figures, like JPMorgan’s, do not factor in expenses, such as gas and wear and tear, that drivers themselves must shoulder.
Competition among drivers has clearly intensified. The number of independent workers in taxi and limousine services, which includes ride-hailing companies, jumped 46 percent in 2016, the latest year for which figures are available, according to the Census Bureau.
Todd Suffreti has seen the difference in the two years that he’s driven for Uber. Suffreti, who works out of Frederick, Maryland, says his weekly income has dropped by a quarter since he began.
“It’s really saturated, and the calls don’t come in as often,” said Suffreti, 45. “It’s not like it used to be. I have to work harder and longer to get what I used to get.”
For drivers, online income now makes up just 26 percent of their total annual earnings, the JPMorgan study found — down from nearly 52 percent in October 2013.
Research by Uber’s chief economist, Jonathan Hall, and John Horton of New York University found that when Uber raised its fares, drivers initially earned more money. But there were offsetting effects: The higher rates attracted more drivers while reducing the number of trips consumers made. Overall earnings for drivers soon fell back to their previous levels.
The JPMorgan study found that transportation — including package delivery and moving — is increasingly the dominant force in the gig economy. Transportation makes up 56 percent of all gig work, up from just 6 percent in 2013. Selling items through such online sites as eBay and Etsy has sunk to 19 percent of gig work, down from 72 percent.
“It’s really those transportation platforms that have grown tremendously and now represent the lion’s share of the dollars and participation,” Grieg said.
People who participate in leasing websites, such as Airbnb and car rental site Truro, are earning much more — averaging $2,113 in March of this year. But just 0.2 percent of households participate in such sites, the study found.
В США помер український поет Богдан Рубчак
Вранці 23 вересня в Нью-Джерсі помер український поет Богдан Рубчак, повідомляє письменник Василь Махно.
«Щойно розмовляв з його дружиною Мар’яною Рубчак, яка сповістила цю печальну вістку. Відійшов один із творців Нью-Йоркської групи, поет особливого мелосу в українській поезії, глибокий знавець літератури, ерудит, богемник, просто мій старший приятель, з яким протягом майже десятиліття дружив», – написав Махно.
За його словами, протягом останніх років Рубчак із дружиною мешкав у місті Бунтон, штат Нью-Джерсі.
Богдан Рубчак народився 1935 року в місті Калуш в Івано-Франківській області, в 1943 році виїхав із сім’єю до Німеччини, а в1948 році родина осіла в Сполучених Штатах.
Там Рубчак отримав освіту, викладав зокрема україністику і славістику в Іллінойському університеті. Видав сім збірок своєї поезії.
Рубчаку було 83 роки.
Ранкове зведення ООС: троє військових отримали поранення
Троє військових Збройних сил України отримали поранення внаслідок обстрілів, повідомляє штаб Операції об’єднаних сил.
З боку незаконних збройних угруповань упродовж доби 23 вересня зафіксували 35 обстрілів, 13 із них – із застосуванням озброєння, забороненого Мінськими домовленостями.
«З мінометів калібру 82 мм ворог обстрілював позиції Об’єднаних сил поблизу населених пунктів Луганське, Новолуганське, Шуми, Південне та Майорськ. Опорні пункти наших військ біля Луганського та Новолуганського противник також накривав вогнем з мінометів 120-го калібру. По позиціях біля цих двох населених пунктів на Світлодарському напрямку окупанти застосували важке озброєння найбільше – 10 разів. Крім того, позиції Об’єднаних сил поблизу Гнутового були обстріляні з озброєння БМП», – йдеться в повідомленні ЗСУ.
Читайте також: «СЦКК: контроль ЗСУ над хутором Вільний на Луганщині забезпечить додержання «режиму тиші»
З початку доби 24 вересня зафіксовано три обстріли: поблизу Кримського, Широкиного та Південного.
В незаконному збройному угрупованні «ДНР» 23 вересня повідомили про «17 випадків порушення вогню» українськими військовими в Донецькій області, в тому числі у селі Саханка, внаслідок чого нібито дістали поранень двоє мирних мешканців.
В аналогічному угрупованні «ЛНР», яке контролює частину Луганської області, заявляють про п’ять випадків порушення режиму тиші з боку ЗСУ.
Тристороння контактна група щодо врегулювання ситуації на Донбасі оголосила про чергове «безстрокове і стале» припинення вогню, починаючи з півночі 29 серпня, цього разу у зв’язку з початком навчального року. Воно було порушене майже відразу після заявленого початку і відтоді, як і всі попередні перемир’я, порушується постійно.
Це була вже принаймні п’ята спроба домовитися про перемир’я лише за 2018 рік. Припинення вогню й раніше проголошувалися як безстрокові, але сторони відразу звинувачували одна одну в порушеннях. При цьому сторони щоразу заперечують свою вину і посилаються на провокації противників.
Унаслідок російської гібридної агресії на сході України з квітня 2014 року в регіоні, за даними ООН, загинули понад 10 тисяч людей іще станом на кінець 2017 року – відтоді нових даних не оголошували.
Muslim-American Women Seek to Represent Changing Face of US in Congress
Depending on the outcome of the November midterm elections, the U.S. House of Representatives is likely to welcome the first two Muslim-American women into the chamber as lawmakers. They join Indiana Congressman Andre Carson as members of the national government representing an often misunderstood and marginalized faith. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports the candidates represent the changing face of the U.S. Congress in a country with a changing religious and ethnic makeup.
Malawi Moves to Improve its Struggling Tourism Industry
Malawi continues to struggle to develop its tourism industry, despite having several attractions, including national parks, game reserves and mountains. But the government has developed a Tourism Strategic Plan that seeks to address challenges to attracting more tourists. Lameck Masina reports on Malawi’s efforts to develop the industry, after attending a recent tourism street carnival in the country’s commercial capital, Blantyre.
Українська Прага: в столиці Чехії показали видатні місця української еміграції
«Інтеграційний центр Праги» провів у неділю, 23 вересня, вже третю безкоштовну екскурсію для усіх охочих місцями української культури та еміграції у столиці Чехії.
Незважаючи на дощ, прогулятись «українськими» місцями столиці Чехії зібралося майже 40 людей, переважно чехи. Група відвідала кілька культурних місць, які безпосередньо стосуються України. Зокрема, карпатську церкву святого архангела Михаїла, яка була перевезена до Праги у 1929 році з села Медведівці, що біля Мукачева на Закарпатті. Там гостям чеський вокальний гурт «Міланош» заспівав українських автентичних пісень.
Другою зупинкою став пам’ятник Тарасові Шевченку, де слухачам розповіли про видатного українського поета та художника. Зачитали вірші Шевченка чеською мовою.
Читайте також: Українська Прага (довідник у фотографіях)
Також чехи та українці мали змогу побачити та дізнатись про будинок, де на початку 20-го століття працював «Український громадський комітет» – координаційний орган української еміграції, який займався розподілом допомоги, наданої українцям чехословацьким урядом.
«Нас тішить, що ходять чехи і ми маємо можливість їм розказати щось, що вони не знають. Людей прийшло досить багато, це для нас теж несподіванка така. Якщо люди ходять, ми будемо робити це далі!» – розповів Радіо Свобода історик та співорганізатор акції Радко Мокрик.
Закінчилася екскурсія читанням віршів Олени Теліги та Євгена Маланюка. У заході взяли участь архітектор Ян Цісарж та богемістка Тетяна Окопна.
Pompeo: US Would Win Trade War with China
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vows the United States will be victorious in any trade war with China, a day before the Trump administration’s latest tariffs on Chinese imports go into effect.
Pompeo told Fox News on Sunday. “We are going to get an outcome which forces China to behave in a way that if you want to be a power, a global power… you do not steal intellectual property.”
The Trump administration has argued tariffs on Chinese goods would force China to trade on more favorable terms with the United States.
It has demanded that China better protect American intellectual property, including ending the practice of cyber theft. The Trump administration has also called on China to allow U.S. companies greater access to Chinese markets and to cut its U.S. trade surplus.
Last week, the United States ordered duties on another $200 billion of Chinese goods to go into effect on September 24 (Monday). China responded by adding $60 billion of U.S. products to its import tariff list.
The Untied States already has imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated on an equal amount of U.S. goods.
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump threatened more tariffs on Chinese goods — another $267 billion worth of duties that would cover virtually all the goods China imports to the United States.
Kavanaugh Accuser to Testify Thursday
Lawyers for the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both high school teenagers say she is “committed” to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Lawyers Debra Katz, Lisa Banks and Michael Bromwich issued the statement Sunday on behalf of Christine Blasey Ford after making what they called “important progress” on a call with Senate Judiciary Committee members.
“Despite actual threats to her safety and her life, Dr. Ford believes it is important for Senators to hear directly from her about the sexual assault committed against her,” the statement said. It noted that she has agreed to move forward despite the committee refusing to invite other witnesses “who are essential for a fair hearing.”
Kavanaugh has denied any sexual impropriety and is also expected to testify before the Republican-led committee votes on his nomination.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News that Ford “will be treated fairly but we’re not going to turn the hearing over to her lawyers.”
Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Democratic Senator Patty Murray warned of a “tremendous backlash” if Senate Republicans rush to confirm Kavanaugh without fully probing the accusation against him.
“What a horrible message to young girls today, what a horrible message to young men today that they can get away with this [sexual misconduct]. Let’s get this right,” Murray said.
On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump questioned Ford’s account, posting on Twitter that “if the attack … was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed” with police.
The tweet has prompted an outpouring of testimonials by self-described sexual assault survivors under the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, and a rebuke from a key Republican.
“We know that allegations of sexual assault are one of the most unreported crimes that exist,” Maine Senator Susan Collins said. “So, I thought that the president’s tweet was completely inappropriate and wrong.”
Trump’s U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, asked about the president’s tweet, said “Every accuser deserves the right to be heard. But at the same time, I think the accused deserves the right to be heard.”
The White House continues to stand by Kavanaugh, a federal appellate judge and Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee.
“Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a man of integrity with impeccable credentials and a proven judicial philosophy,” Vice President Mike Pence told an annual gathering of social conservatives. “And I believe that Judge Brett Kavanaugh will soon be Justice Brett Kavanaugh and take his seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Democrats praised Ford’s courage and echoed her demand that the FBI investigate the accusation.
“What in the hell did she [Ford] have to gain by doing this? At this point she’s faced death threats, her family has been moved out of their home,” Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said on ABC’s This Week. “Dr. Ford has said from the start: let’s have the investigation. Let’s find all the people who might have some knowledge of it. You know, she’s open to the investigation. It’s Judge Kavanaugh, the Department of Justice, and the president who have said no, there will be no investigation.”
Ford alleges that, at a 1982 house party, Kavanaugh, then 17 and “stumbling drunk,” pinned her to a bed and groped her, causing her to fear for her life before she escaped. Kavanaugh has adamantly denied the accusation.
Several people Ford said attended the party have indicated they have no memory of the alleged assault.
Hundreds Mark Hurricane Anniversary Near Trump Resort
Dozens of vehicles slowly approached President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Saturday afternoon, blasting reggaeton and salsa as they drove by. They honked their horns and waved Puerto Rican flags draped from their car windows and trunks. They were on their way to a rally a few miles away to mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria.
Despite the scorching hot sun, hundreds of activists showed up at the Meyer Amphitheater in West Palm Beach. Buses full of protesters came from as far as Miami and Orlando. The crowd was lively. People spread out on the grass and walked around carrying posters that read “Respeta Mi Gente” (Respect My People) and “Justice for Puerto Rico.” To one side of the stage, a giant blowup balloon of Trump depicted as a baby had been inflated. Crowds waited in line to take photographs in which they gave the orange balloon the middle finger.
Event organizers encouraged those in attendance to vote in the midterm elections in November. Anyone with a microphone was constantly telling people to vote, to register to vote, and to spread awareness about voting.
“We’re honoring the lives that were lost,” said Marcos Vilar, the president and executive director of Alianza for Progress, one of the event organizers. “We are recognizing all the people that were displaced and are living here in South Florida, central Florida and throughout the state.”
Vilar believes that although Puerto Ricans are citizens, the current administration’s response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria has proved that Puerto Ricans are not treated equally.
Nearly 3,000 people have died as a result of Hurricane Maria, according to a study conducted by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. The president has repeatedly rebuked the death toll. Last week he tweeted that researchers had inflated the numbers “like magic” saying the amount was “FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER -NO WAY!”
Trump was not at Mar-a-Lago during the event.
Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who was in attendance, called the current situation in Puerto Rico “inexcusable” and characterized Trump’s comments as offensive. “How much more insults do (Puerto Ricans) have to take after being treated like they have?” he asked.
He also criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s relief efforts, saying that their treatment of Puerto Ricans has been “cold-hearted” and that the agency must do more to provide displaced people with temporary housing assistance.
Nelson is locked in a tight re-election race with Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who must leave office because of term limits. The large Puerto Rican vote in Florida is seen as a crucial bloc in the state. Scott has visited Puerto Rico numerous times since the hurricane.
Dayavet Velez, 17, said that her home in Adjuntas, a small municipality tucked away in the mountains of central Puerto Rico, had been destroyed by Hurricane Maria. She and her family have been living in central Florida for nearly a year.
“We came here because we lost everything there,” she said.
Velez said that when Trump visited Puerto Rico, he didn’t see the full devastation that Maria had caused, he saw only a distorted reality. He didn’t visit the areas that were most affected by the storm.
Despite the hardships she and her family have faced, the high school senior remains hopeful.
“We’re not going to be torn down,” she said. “We’re going to stand up for ourselves … we’re going to be strong … we’re going to progress here.”