NEWS     THURSDAY,  OCTOBER  4, 2018    NEWS

Seven GOP congressmen call for House and Senate Ethics investigations into leaking of Ford letter
Seven Republican congressmen formally requested on Wednesday that the House and Senate Ethics Committees investigate Democrats’ handling of Christine Blasey Ford’s letter detailing sexual assault allegations. Representatives Andy Biggs, Steve King, Jeff Duncan, Bob Gibbs, Ralph Normal, Rod Blum, and Louie Gohmert sent two letters to each chamber’s Ethics Committee targeting Rep. Anna Eshoo and Sen. Dianne Feinstein. They requested that both California Democrats and their staff be investigated in other to determine how Ms. Blasey Ford’s letter was leaked to the press. “Deliberately outing Dr. Ford without her consent may have a lasting impact on women’s willingness to report future assaults,” the letters read. “For these reasons, we are calling for an immediate ethics investigation to identify the individuals who are responsible for this breach and take appropriate action.” Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Let's see what the leaking info will yield.

Christine Blasey Ford will only give documents to FBI
Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers said Wednesday that they won’t give senators documents related to her sexual assault claim against Brett Kavanaugh, but will provide them to the FBI — if agents want to interview her about her allegation. Ms. Blasey Ford’s lawyers had said they are surprised agents haven’t yet tried to reach her as they update their background investigation into Judge Kavanaugh for his nomination to the Supreme Court. Ms. Blasey Ford has accused the judge of assaulting her at a high school party in 1982, and her allegation has upended the judge’s nomination. Democrats have said they believe her, and have insisted the FBI be tasked to look into her complaint before a vote on the nomination. Republicans say there’s no evidence to corroborate her story, and the witnesses she says were at the party during the assault have refuted her. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Ford is dodging the facts.

7 officers shot, 1 dead, in South Carolina shooting, authorities say; suspect in custody
At least seven law enforcement officers were shot, one fatally, in Florence County, South Carolina, authorities said Wednesday night. Local media reports said the shooting may have escalated from a domestic violence situation Wednesday night. Officers responded to an active shooting in Vintage Place, an upscale residential subdivision, Florence County Emergency Management tweeted. A suspect was in custody, authorities said. Florence County Coroner Keith von Lutcken said the dead officer was a member of the city police department. Three Florence County sheriff’s deputies were shot, said Public Information Officer Major Michael M. Nunn, and four city officers were shot, said Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler. USA Today

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Republicans plan careful steps to protect secrecy of FBI report on Brett Kavanaugh
Republicans plan a careful choreography for reviewing the results of the FBI's background inquiry into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh that includes restricting its distribution and inviting senators to a secure meeting room in the Capitol to view the report.  The main focus of the FBI investigation has been accusations by Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were in high school. Kavanaugh vehemently denied the allegations. The report could be delivered to Capitol Hill as early as Wednesday. It will go first to the White House, then to the Senate Judiciary Committee and then all senators will be allowed to read it in a secure location, Republican senators said. USA Today
VOA VIEW: Dems will leak out the FBI report.

Trump slams New York Times article on his taxes; NYC joins fraud inquiry
President Donald Trump lashed out at the New York Times Wednesday, saying its article that accuses him and his family of tax fraud was a "very old, boring and often told hit piece on me." The article details how Trump's father, Fred Trump, passed on $413 million to him while dodging taxes and setting up sham corporations. The article also accuses the Trumps of undervaluing their real estate holdings by hundreds of million of dollars on tax returns so the amount owed was lower when it was transferred to Trump and his siblings. UPI

Republican Vern Buchanan leads Democrat David Shapiro by 9 in key congressional race
A new poll of the race for Florida's 16th Congressional District is sort of a good news-bad news situation for Democrats. The good news? Democrat David Shapiro is running 11 points better than incumbent Republican Vern Buchanan's 2016 opponent. The bad news? Shapiro is still behind by nine points, according to a University of North Florida poll of 551 likely voters in the district. Buchanan garnered the support of 49 percent of those voters, while Shapiro had 40, per the poll, which was released Thursday morning. Eleven percent were undecided. (Obligatory note: this is just one poll. It's important to look at multiple polls when judging the state of a political race.) The poll also showed that the issue of top concern to CD-16 voters is the environment — which is perhaps unsurprising given the recent public scuffling about that topic from the campaigns of Shapiro and Buchanan. Tampa Bay
VOA VIEW: All Dems must be defeated - all.

FEMA test sends first Presidential Alert to U.S. cellphones
The Federal Emergency Management Agency tested its first Presidential Alert Wednesday by pushing a notification and a tone to Americans' cellphones similar to weather alerts. The nationwide test was conducted through the Wireless Emergency Alerts system, which also is responsible for sending out weather and Amber Alerts. The test went out at 2:18 p.m. EDT to all cellphones connected to wireless providers participating in the WEA. More than 100 wireless providers carry WEA messages, and ones like Wednesday's feature a header that reads "Presidential Alert." UPI

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McConnell files cloture to end debate on Kavanaugh nomination, setting up key procedural vote later this week
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel late Wednesday night filed for cloture to end debate on Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination, setting up a key procedural vote for Friday -- and a possible confirmation vote on Saturday. McConnell also revealed that the Senate would receive the FBI's supplemental background investigation into Kavanaugh Wednesday night. Sources previously told Fox News that Senators and some aides would be able to start looking at the FBI’s background investigation on Thursday morning and that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and committee member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., will be given the first chance to look at the report. Fox
VOA VIEW: It's time for a vote.

Top FBI lawyer Baker offers 'explosive' testimony on 'abnormal' handling of Russia probe into Trump campaign: lawmakers
Former top FBI lawyer James Baker gave "explosive" closed-door testimony on Wednesday detailing for congressional investigators how the Russia probe was handled in an "abnormal fashion" reflecting "political bias," according to two Republican lawmakers present for the deposition. "Some of the things that were shared were explosive in nature," Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told Fox News. "This witness confirmed that things were done in an abnormal fashion. That's extremely troubling." Meadows claimed the "abnormal" handling of the probe into alleged coordination between Russian officials and the Trump presidential campaign was "a reflection of inherent bias that seems to be evident in certain circles." The FBI agent who opened the Russia case, Peter Strzok, FBI lawyer Lisa Page and others sent politically charged texts, and have since left the bureau. Fox
VOA VIEW: The FBI and DOJ was contaminated.

Facebook faces $1.6bn fine and formal investigation over massive data breach
The Irish Data Protection Commission has opened a formal investigation into a data breach that affected nearly 50m Facebook accounts, which could result in a fine of up to $1.63bn. The breach, which was discovered by Facebook engineers on Tuesday 24 September, gave hackers the ability to take over users’ accounts. It was patched on Thursday, the company said. “The investigation will examine Facebook’s compliance with its obligation under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure the security and safeguarding of the personal data it processes,” the commission said in a statement on Wednesday. The commission regulates Facebook’s adherence to GDPR, a European law that strengthens the privacy protections of individuals and introduces harsh penalties for companies that fail to protect user data. Guardian
VOA VIEW: Facebook is a danger to all.

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Trump races against clock to roll back major Obama-era environment rules
Donald Trump’s administration is racing against the clock to rescind or rewrite every major pro-environment policy enduring from Barack Obama’s presidency – but the government will probably not be able to usher those changes through the courts before the next presidential election. Green-minded states and advocates cannot sue until regulations are final, and it could take years for the courts to rule. In the interim, the lengthy slate of rollbacks will slow progress on reducing air pollution and greenhouse gases that warm the planet, health experts say. Bruce Buckheit, who worked in the Environmental Protection Agency’s enforcement division under both Democratic and Republican presidents, said the first year of the Trump presidency was “a bunch of press releases”, but “now we’re getting to the point where they’re actually doing things”. Guardian

Why Susan Collins is in a very unfamiliar place on the Kavanaugh vote
Susan Collins has built her entire political career on being in the middle. If there's a "Gang" formed in the Senate, Collins is on it. If there's a bipartisan huddle to be had, Collins is in it. If there is a "small group of undecided senators who could make all the difference," Collins is part of it. That status as the center of the center of the Senate has been remarkably beneficial to Collins' political life. Elected first in 1996, she spent years in the shadow of her fellow Mainer Olympia Snowe. But since Snowe's retirement from the Senate in 2012, Collins has emerged as a major political force in both Washington and Maine. CNN
VOA VIEW: Collins needs to go - she is not a true conservative.

Big box chain recalls 246,000 axes after learning the heads can fly off while in use
An axe head flying off from the handle mid chop usually is confined to old school Warner Bros. cartoons. When it happens in real life, it’s not funny, which is why Walmart recalled 246,000 Ozark Trail camp axes Wednesday. The exact problem, as detailed in the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recall notice: “The axe head can detach from the handle, posing an injury hazard.” Apparently, this isn’t an idle concern, either: “Walmart has received two reports of axe heads detaching from the handle, resulting in minor cuts and abrasions.” Miami Herald

Trump administration asks top U.S. court to intervene in census suit
The Justice Department asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to block a lower court order for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to be questioned by lawyers for a group of states challenging a decision by President Donald Trump’s administration to ask people taking part in the 2020 census whether they are citizens. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan ruled on Sept. 21 that Ross, whose department oversees the Census Bureau, must face a deposition by lawyers for the states because his “intent and credibility are directly at issue” in the lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed in April in federal court New York, includes 18 states and a number of cities and counties, and was spearheaded by Democratic officials. The Justice Department told the Supreme Court the states should not be allowed to probe Ross’s “mental state” in deciding to add the citizenship question to the census, saying that compelling testimony from high-ranking officials is rarely justified. Reuters
VOA VIEW: Trump will win this lawsuit.

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Judge blocks US from ending protections for some immigrants
A judge on Wednesday blocked the Trump administration from ending protections that allowed immigrants from four countries to live and work legally in the United States, saying the move would cause "irreparable harm and great hardship." U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco granted a request for a preliminary injunction against the administration's decision to discontinue temporary protected status for people from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador. The judge said there is evidence that "President Trump harbors an animus against non-white, non-European aliens which influenced his ... decision to end the TPS designation." The ruling cited Trump's 2015 campaign speech in which he characterized Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists,  his call to bar Muslims from entering the United States and his vulgar reference to African countries during a meeting about immigration at the White House in January. Miami Herald
VOA VIEW: The liberal Judge has lost his sense of Americanism.

McConnell’s message to Kavanaugh protesters: GOP Senators ‘will not be intimidated’
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday, “I’m not suggesting we’re the victims here… but I want to make it clear to these people who are chasing my members around the hall here. … There is no chance in the world they’re going to scare us out of doing our duty.” NBC

Powder found in Senator Cruz's campaign building non-hazardous: officials
At least two people were taken to a hospital after a white powdery substance was found in a Houston building where U.S. Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign office is located, but tests showed the substance to be non-hazardous, fire officials said on Tuesday. The substance was found in the Phoenix Tower building in Houston, the city’s fire department said on Twitter. “It was a false alarm, all’s fine,” said Roxann Malloy, a Cruz campaign volunteer who answered the phone at the Republican senator’s campaign office. Cruz is seeking re-election in the Nov. 6 elections. She said the powder was found in a package a few floors below the campaign office. Reuters

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Top UN judicial body orders US to ease Iran sanctions
Following President Donald Trump’s announcement in May that the US was withdrawing from the 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, known as the JCPOA – reached by Iran, the five permanent members of the Security Council, Germany and the European Union – the US President ordered sanctions “lifted or waived” in connection with the agreement, to be re-imposed. The sanctions affect anyone doing business with Iran in areas such as finance, oil and shipping. Iran claimed that the sanctions violated a 1955 bilateral treaty regulating trade and commerce between the two countries and, in August, brought the case to the ICJ, seeking an emergency suspension. In its ruling, the ICJ found Iran’s case to be credible and urgent, ruling that restrictions on importing “foodstuffs and medicines, including life-saving medicines, treatment for chronic disease or preventive care, and medical equipment, may have a serious detrimental impact on the health and lives of individuals on the territory of Iran.” UN

Trump administration terminates 1955 treaty with Iran after UN court ruling
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the White House was terminating a 1950s treaty with Iran after a United Nations court ruled the accord prevented the US from imposing sanctions that would affect humanitarian aid. “We’re disappointed that the court failed to recognize that it has no jurisdiction to issue any order relating to these sanctions measures with the United States, which is doing its work on Iran to protect its own essential security interests,” Pompeo said during a news conference at the State Department. The United Nations’ highest court ordered the US to ensure that sanctions against the Islamic Republic that will be strengthened next month do not imperil humanitarian aid or civil aviation in the country. New York Post
VOA VIEW: Good move.

San Diego federal prosecutor to judge immigration cases in Los Angeles
A San Diego-based assistant U.S. attorney is among the hires in a large class of new immigration judges set to begin hearing cases this month. As part of the Trump administration’s push to reduce a continuously growing backlog of immigration court cases, currently more than 764,000 cases, the Justice Department introduced a “streamlined hiring plan” to bring on more immigration judges. The Executive Office for Immigration Review, the agency within the department responsible for immigration courts, announced Friday that it had hired and trained 46 new judges, bringing the total to 395 nationwide. San Diego Union

Richard Blumenthal suggests pulling Olympic Committee's tax-exempt status over sex abuse issues
A senator floated the idea of revoking the U.S. Olympic Committee's tax-exempt status if it fails to effectively combat the sex-abuse problem in Olympic sports. At a hearing Wednesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, said the USOC's tax-exempt status and antitrust exemption could be at risk when Congress revisits the law that governs the federation. Blumenthal also suggested the position of athlete advocate and inspector general be added to the USOC. The federation has an athletes' ombudsman position and recently revealed plans to give athletes more-accessible avenues to report abuse and other wrongdoing. Blumenthal suggested Congress would make revisions in the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act to "make sure the USOC is held to a higher standard of accountability." CBS
VOA VIEW: It will set a good example.

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Trade wars and protectionism threaten global shipping, warns UN agency
The warning from UNCTAD, the UN Conference on Trade and Development, follows a “healthy” four per cent increase in global seaborne commerce in 2017. “While the prospects for seaborne trade are positive, these are threatened by the outbreak of trade wars and increased inward-looking policies,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said. “Escalating protectionism and tit-for-tat tariff battles will potentially disrupt the global trading system which underpins demand for maritime transport.” According to the Review of Maritime Transport 2018, 10.7 billion tonnes of goods were transported last year and nearly half were dry bulk commodities. These include iron ore bound for China, which is described as the “main factor” in recent global shipping growth. This positive trend is forecast to continue at a rate of 3.8 per cent by volume, until 2023, the UNCTAD report says. UN

Suspect arrested for allegedly sending suspicious envelopes to Trump, Pentagon
A former Navy sailor was taken into custody in Utah on Wednesday on suspicion of mailing envelopes filled with a suspicious substance to top federal officials, including President Trump. The man, identified as William Clyde Allen III, 39, was taken into custody in Logan about 85 miles north of Salt Lake City, according to local FBI spokesman Doug Davis. “No wider threat to the public safety exists at this time,” Davis told the Logan Herald Journal. “As it is a pending matter, that’s all we can say at this time.” Two envelopes sent to the Pentagon, one addressed to Defense Secretary James Mattis and the other to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, contained a return address that linked them to the former sailor, officials told Fox News. New York Post

US Vice President Pence set to inflame China tensions
The intervention by the vice president marks a significant broadening in the rhetoric used by the Trump administration to confront China, linking issues around military, trade and domestic politics. The speech is set to come just days after a Chinese military vessel nearly collided with a US Navy ship in the waters around the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Pence will describe the encounter in which a Chinese naval vessel came within 45 yards (41 meters) of the USS Decatur as "reckless harassment," and add that the United States Navy "will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows and our national interests demand. We will not be intimidated; we will not stand down." CNN
VOA VIEW: China is scary, but they will lose any confrontation.

Kalasho warned again not to use city letterhead, logo for re-election campaign
El Cajon City Councilman Ben Kalasho has been warned he may face a court injunction if he continues to use the city of El Cajon’s official seal or logo for campaign purposes or other matters that do not pertain to city business. In an Oct. 3 letter to Kalasho, El Cajon City Manager Graham Mitchell wrote that the city had received multiple inquiries or complaints about a campaign letter Kalasho wrote that was dated Oct. 1. That letter was emailed to voters from Kalasho’s official city email address, using the city’s official logo for its letterhead, with “Councilman Ben Kalasho” next to the logo. Mitchell’s letter to Kalasho said a city policy “prohibits the use of the city seal or logo for non-official city business.” Mitchell also wrote that Kalasho’s use of a city email address constitutes a Fair Political Practices Commission’s ethics violation. San Diego Union

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