NEWS     MONDAY,  SEPTEMBER  24, 2018    NEWS

Kavanaugh support slips as public believes accuser
Voters, already lukewarm on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, have now turned decidedly against him as his confirmation drags on amid allegations of an alleged attempted sexual assault three decades ago. A Fox News poll released Sunday found 50 percent of voters, if they had a direct say, would vote against confirming him to the high court, while just 40 percent would back him. That works out to a 10-percentage point deficit, down 9 points since the previous Fox poll in August. That tracks with other polling that shows the judge’s support slipping among the public — though it’s not yet clear it will derail his confirmation. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Wrong, wishful left-wing thinking.

Mike Pompeo blasts Russia: 'They have not proven helpful' anywhere in the world
Russia has worked against U.S. interests in Ukraine, Syria, and in other hot spots across the globe, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a blistering takedown of Moscow that comes on the eve of a key United Nations summit in New York City. In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that airs Sunday morning, Mr. Pompeo said the Trump administration so far has not been successful in pushing back against many of Russia’s destabilizing actions around the world. Russia is backing dictator Bashar Assad’s forces in Syria, forcibly annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine, and has taken a host of other steps that are in direct opposition to U.S. foreign policy interests. Washington Tiems

Iran's Rouhani: 'Bullying' U.S. wants to cause insecurity in nation
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday blamed "bullying" United States and its Gulf states allies for terrorists' attacks one day earlier on a military parade in Ahvaz in southwest Iran. "It is entirely clear to us who did it, who they are and where they are affiliated to," he said in Tehran before leaving to attend the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York. "The sponsor of all these small mercenary countries in the region is America." UPI
VOA VIEW: Iran is making stupid remarks.

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Top Democrat cites Kavanaugh's 'outcome-driven' legal philosophy as reason to deny him due process
Sen. Mazie Hirono on Sunday suggested that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's "outcome-driven" conservative judicial philosophy directly undermines the redibility of his denials that he sexually assaulted California professor Christine Ford at a house party more than three decades ago. Speaking to CNN's "State of the Union," Hirono, D-Hawaii, called for an independent FBI investigation of Ford's claims, before explaining why the presumption of innocence and due process should not apply to Kavanaugh's case. "I put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases," Hirono told host Jake Tapper, in response to a question about whether Kavanaugh was entitled to a presumption of innocence. "His credibility is already very questionable in my mind. ...  When I say that he's very outcome-driven, he has an ideological agenda, and I can sit here and talk to you about some of the cases that exemplify his, in my view, inability to be fair." Fox

Nikki Haley: reports of discussions about removing Trump are 'absurd'
Top Trump officials were again forced to deny the existence of plots to remove the president, two days after reports said the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, discussed recording conversations with Trump and invoking the 25th amendment. The 25th amendment provides for the removal of a president deemed unfit for office. This month, an op ed in the New York Times by an anonymous “senior official” said the amendment had been discussed within the administration. A book by Watergate reporter Bob Woodward detailed efforts by former staff members to stymie Trump on controversial or notionally dangerous policies. Guardian
VOA VIEW: Liberal fake news.

Nearly $18m in cocaine found in boxes of bananas donated to Texas prison
Authorities in Texas said bananas donated to a prison in the state turned out to have nearly $18m worth of cocaine hidden inside their boxes. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (DCJ) outlined the find in a surprisingly jaunty Facebook post which began: “Sometimes, life gives you lemons. Sometimes, it gives you bananas. And sometimes, it gives you something you’d never expect!” The two pallets of bananas were donated because they were already ripe, the DCJ said, and arrived on Friday from Ports of America in Freeport. “One of the boxes felt different than the others,” the DCJ said. Guardian

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Amid-furor-Trump-pushes-pause-on-deciding
As Air Force One streaked across the desert sky and Las Vegas faded in the distance, President Donald Trump began seeking opinions. The TVs on the plane, tuned as always to Fox News, carried headlines about an explosive new story: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had suggested wearing a wire to secretly record Trump, and raised the idea of using the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office. On the flights both to and from a Missouri rally, Trump polled staff on the plane, called his outside network of advisers and kept a careful eye on what his favorite hosts on his favorite network were recommending. Houston Chronicle

Beto-Cruz debate: In this knife fight, Cruz drew more blood
If the first debate between GOP Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke was a knife fight, neither candidate emerged unscathed. While Cruz ended the night with a backhanded compliment branding O'Rourke as a tireless advocate of "socialism," the Democrat got in the dismissive last words on Cruz's heavy-handed attack: "True to form."But Friday night's bout in Dallas, the first of three, provided no big gaffes of the sort that define debates or obvious "home runs" that might linger throughout the remainder of the Texas U.S. Senate race. It also served to delineate useful differences that both candidates will be able to take to voters. Houston Chronicle

The Latest on the aftermath of Hurricane Florence
Forecasters say Subtropical Storm Leslie has formed in the north Atlantic, far from land. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sunday morning that Leslie is expected to be short-lived. Leslie is about 1,145 miles (1,840 kilometers) west-southwest of the Azores and has winds of 40 mph (65 kph). The storm is moving 3 mph (5 kph), and little motion is expected in the next two days. Farther southeast, Tropical Storm Kirk is moving quickly west across the eastern Atlantic and is expected to pick up speed in the next few days. Forecasters say Kirk is about 545 miles (875 kilometers) southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. The storm has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and is moving west at 21 mph (34 kph). Forecasters think the storm will move even faster though Tuesday. Las Vegas Sun

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Pompeo threatens military force over Syrian chemical weapons
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said the US wouldn’t hesitate to hold the “source of the bad behavior” accountable if Syria uses chemical weapons again – and wouldn’t rule out the use of military force. “We’ll have to analyze once the activity takes place. We pray that it doesn’t,” Pompeo said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But we’ll do our intelligence, our forensics. We’ll do our hard work. And we will hold accountable those that are responsible for violating this fundamental principle, this idea that chemical weapons are fundamentally different than other types of weapon systems.” NBC anchor Chuck Todd asked whether Russia or Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is to blame. New York Post
VOA VIEW: Syria is looking for major trouble.

Ex-Trump staffer accused of slipping abortion pill into girlfriend’s smoothie
A former Trump campaign spokesperson was accused of slipping an abortion pill into his pregnant girlfriend’s smoothie — sending her to the hospital and nearly causing her to go into a coma, according to court documents. Jason Miller — who served on President Trump’s 2016 campaign and transition team — announced he was quitting his role as CNN political commentator Saturday to “focus on clearing [his] name” and fighting the accusations detailed in recent court documents. The explosive court filings, first reported by Splinter News, allege that prior to Miller’s high-profile extramarital relationship with A.J. Delgado — another Trump campaign staffer — he had an affair with an unnamed woman he met at Rachel’s Gentleman’s Club, an Orlando strip club. New York Post

New Jersey sheriff steps down after uproar over racist remarks
The sheriff of New Jersey's most populous county has resigned after an outcry over racist remarks he made about black people and the state's attorney general, who is a Sikh. Bergen County Michael Saudino and four undersheriffs resigned Friday. Gov. Phil Murphy said he will be choosing an interim sheriff for the northern New Jersey county of nearly 1 million residents. The furor erupted this week after radio station WNYC posted audio clips of the sheriff's remarks from a January discussion following Murphy's inauguration. The station said it obtained a secret recording of the remarks. Sound bites are on the station's website, and local media, including CNN affiliates WABC and WCBS, have widely reported on the story. CNN

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Nikki Haley says sexual harassment accusers shouldn't be blamed or second-guessed
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday that as a general principle, people should avoid blaming or second-guessing sexual harassment accusers. "The message I'm comfortable with is that accusers go through a lot of trauma and some handle it one way and some handle it the other way," Haley told CNN's "State of the Union" anchor Jake Tapper. "Regardless, you never -- it's not something that we want to do, to blame the accuser or to try and second guess the accuser. We don't know the situation she was going through 35 years ago. We don't know the circumstances." Haley added that "every accuser always deserves the right to be heard, but at the same time, the accused deserves the right to be heard." The ambassador's comments come two days after President Donald Trump deviated from his previously measured comments about a sexual assault allegation recently levied against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford. CNN

The most dangerous cities in America, ranked
In 2016, the U.S. saw a 3.4 percent uptick in violent crime compared with the previous year, the FBI reported, although overall it remains near historic lows. There were about 386 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2016, according to the FBI, which classifies murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault as violent crimes. These are the U.S. cities with the highest rates of violent crime in 2016, the most recent year available from the FBI. CBS

Bill targets 'Kushner loophole' allowing false filings
A New York City councilman plans to introduce a bill to close the "Kushner loophole" that fails to check up on landlords if they file false documents with the city. The move follows an Associated Press report earlier this year that Jared Kushner's family real estate company filed dozens of false documents with the city claiming it had no rent-regulated tenants in many of its buildings. That allowed it to avoid strict oversight of construction that critics say was used to drive out low-paying tenants. Councilman Ritchie Torres says his bill would require the city's buildings department to check with tax records to validate such claims. If any false submission is discovered, the landlord's entire portfolio of buildings would be subject to an audit. ABC

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Libya has ‘lurched from one emergency to another,’ high-level UN official tells Security Council
The UN Special Representative pointed to the violence in the capital, Tripoli, that began on 26 August as shattering “the façade of calm that had prevailed since May 2017,” relaying that tanks and heavy artillery were deployed into residential neighborhoods, leaving 61 Libyans dead and injuring nearly 160. “Many of those who died were civilians, including children. Families were forced to flee their homes. Looting and crime became common place as gangs took to the streets. Hundreds of criminals broke out of prison. Migrants were either trapped in detention centres, or turned onto the street,” he detailed. Against the backdrop that the city was “on the brink of all-out war,” he said that on 4 September, UNSMIL brokered a ceasefire between the major parties to the conflict, halting the fighting and restoring some order.
UN

Puerto Rico: The exodus after Hurricane Maria
In the year since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, the island has suffered many losses: homes and livelihoods, electricity and clean water, and tragically, nearly 3,000 lives. But even as the rebuilding effort goes on, another type of loss is taking a growing toll: the loss of some 200,000 residents who've left the island in search of a better life elsewhere. Without these business owners, skilled workers, doctors, teachers, church members, parents and children, Puerto Rico's future looks even more precarious. Damarys Perales and her 10-year-old daughter Alahia are reluctantly joining the exodus. "It hurts me to leave like this," Damarys told CBS News correspondent David Begnaud, who's been covering the impact since the storm hit. But she adds, "I need the change. We need the change." CNS
VOA VIEW: PR is its own worst enemy.

Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's court nominee, faces new sex allegation
A second woman has come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump's US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Deborah Ramirez, a Yale university classmate of the judge, told the New Yorker that Mr Kavanaugh had exposed his genitals at a dormitory party. The judge has denied both allegations, labelling the latest "a smear". The make-up of the nine-judge Supreme Court is crucial, as it has the final say on often highly contentious laws. Before Mr Kavanaugh can take up the vacant seat, he has to be approved by the 21-strong Senate Judiciary Committee and then the whole Senate. BBC

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UN chief condemns attack in south-west Iran which killed dozens
According to media reports, the attack targeted a military parade, with terrorists shooting from a long distance at the armed forces parading as well as the civilians watching the event. Mr. Guterres expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Iran. He wished those injured a speedy recovery. UN

UN chief “alarmed” by violations of UN-backed ceasefire in Libya
Violence escalated in the city in August, with rival militias fighting and with tanks and heavy artillery deployed into residential neighborhoods. News reports indicate that, to date, over 100 Libyans have been killed in the violence and dozens more injured. The Secretary-General extended his condolences to those who have lost loved ones and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured as a result of the continuing violence.  In addition, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), hundreds have been displaced by these recent clashes. Tripoli has been at the center of Libya's seven-year conflict, following an uprising that led to the overthrowing and killing of President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. On 4 September, a ceasefire agreement was signed by the armed groups in Tripoli under the auspices of UN Special Representative, Ghassan Salamé, and the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). UN

China Says It Won’t Hold Trade Talks Unless Trump Stops Threats
China dashed prospects for a near-term resolution to the trade war with the U.S., warning President Donald Trump his threats of further tariffs are blocking any potential negotiations. The response, which came just over an hour after the U.S. imposed new duties on $200 billion in Chinese goods on Monday, underscores a deepening gulf between both governments in a dispute that observers say is less about a row over a bilateral goods deficit and increasingly about a U.S. desire to put the brakes on China’s economic ascent. Trump has repeatedly threatened higher tariffs on the remaining Chinese imports should Beijing retaliate against Monday’s round. As China has said that step is certain, the stage appears set for yet another escalation of the trade war. China canceled talks that were scheduled for this week, and is digging in by prepping stimulus measures to cushion the economy. Bloombert
VOA VIEW: China is playing for Midterms which they will change big time if Republicans win.

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